The implementation of the information system, Lifexpress, at Lenox and the recent botched website portal for Obamacare, Healthcare.gov, are similar cases in that they exemplify a common difficulty experienced by any major organization as they invest in technology: lack of scope and accountability. Whenever an IT project goes awry, people want to point fingers and blame each other. What it boils down to is the fact that if a team of representatives for all interested parties are not on board and informed about the process and the projected, realistic results, no one is going to end up pleased. While the Lenox cause gained most of its criticism from its slow launch, process software, and user training, Healthcare.gov rushed the site that could not even handle 500 users on its first day. In both of these cases, there is a serious conundrum: those looking to adopt new information systems don’t understand the technology and how it is designed and implemented, while those who create the technology don’t understand the business they are creating for.
As far as the scope of these two different cases, both Lifexpress at Lenox and Healthcare.gov were much more focused on theory rather than practice. While the design of these programs, theoretically might have blown away the board members who approved it, not even the information specialists in these cases seemed to grasp how large the scope was of these projects. Diane Sullivan should never have been acting alone on this megalithic project. The Obama administration was clearly not advised properly as to the magnitude of the site and what it would mean if its launched were rushed. Most people who do not have a firm grasp of information technology and systems cannot understand how the implementation technology can be so ambiguous, but often it is. This is not a one-size fit all operation, and these two cases show that.
In many IT projects, it is hard to tell at any given moment who is in charge and who is really managing the operation like so many interests are at stake. When non-IT personnel tries to overstep their areas of expertise, disasters can happen like security threats to the Obamacare website or the information systems failure of Lifexpress to meet Lenox’s realistic needs in a competitive market. Decision-making in the implementation of any information system needs to be collaborative and approach from different disciplinary angles. Having one person or even a few people to blame if a project flops is not the way this should happen. If a team of individuals with various backgrounds including consultants, IT specialists, and those actually using the proposed technology would come together and work collaboratively, there would be less of an issue of accountability and finger-pointing when schedules get thrown off or changes need to be made. Education about the process is key for everyone, not just those who need to learn how to use the technology, but early on in the design phase. An information system cannot be successful if the project it is designed for is not properly addressed; therefore, collaboration is the only way to get desired results and realize the potential that information technology holds for a business or organization’s efficiency.
Reimus, Byron. “The IT System that Couldn’t Deliver.” HBR Case Study. Harvard Business Review.