Thursday, October 24, 2013

The Obamacare Website IT Pro Lesson: Don't get involved with "that project"

So I'm writing and supporting apps for this law department and they decide to purchase a new matter management system.

The vendor comes in and says they will use some new technology, Domino, to web enable their cool Notes-based matter management system and the Heavenly Choirs will sing evermore.  I was included in the initial meeting with the vendor because I was the de facto Notes/Domino team.

The vendor guys immediately wanted to know who I was and why I was there and would I have access to their application and, more specifically, their code.

I told my contact after the meeting to calm the vendor down because not only would I leave their code alone (there wasn't anything they could write that I couldn't) but I was also not going to support their application.  That was great because neither the vendor nor the customer wanted me to support the Heavenly Choir Matter Management System.

Until it was a failure...

Then I was consulted on whether the vendor was doing things right and maybe I might want to help out.

"Uh, no."

"Well maybe..."


Why did I turn them down?  Because the system was a failure and I didn't want my name attached to it.

After three years of continuing disappointment, the vendor was booted because they could not actually support their own product and then I agreed to support their application in life support mode while they transitioned to the new system which I will refer to as "Heavenly Choir Singing Matter Management System II."

My sense is that if you are an IT person working on the Obamacare web site, which by all accounts is an unmitigated technical disaster so far, you are not going to suffer any negative consequences to your career.  Government IT is "different."

But just in case you work at a company where success actually matters or you are a can and should be choosing projects, if you have the ability and opportunity to choose, that fit into your career goals because, good or bad, that "big" project that was a disaster is going to stick with you one way or another.