Lessons Learned from Healthcare.gov

Lessons Learned from Healthcare.gov

I’m sure you’ve heard by now about the debacle that happened with the launching of Healthcare.gov. There’s no sugar-coating it – it’s been a very public facing disaster of a program that was hard fought and hard won for the Obama administration.

Why am I bringing this up, do you ask? Because one of my colleagues sent me this article about the launch of the website and when I read it, one thing really jumped out to me: there were 55 vendors involved in building that website (55!) and not one party responsible for ensuring their coordination and collaboration on the launch of one of the most highly anticipated websites in the history of the United States.

How do you, as a client, avoid that vacuum of coordination and responsibility? Well, for your biggest projects, including a new CRM implementation you can hire someone like us, Heller Consulting, as a Solution Coordinator. The Solution Coordinator’s role is to ensure that all of the vendors are working in conjunction with each other to deliver the right, holistic solution to the client. They establish how and when the vendors are providing progress reports on their work; create metrics to track that the schedule is on time; and keep the bigger picture of the project objectives in mind as each vendor deploys their solution.

The Need for a Solution Coordinator

We often get asked when a project requires a Solution Coordinator, and while I might want to answer “if you have to ask!…” there are some factors to consider that can help a client identify whether or not a Solution Coordinator is called for within the scope of a project.

There are multiple vendors involved.

Each vendor has their own procurement, provisioning, and implementation process. Even if an application isn’t huge or doesn’t require a migration of data, each vendor has a unique process and requires someone that can shepherd them through the project to ensure everyone stays on track.

There are multiple applications being deployed.

Even if those multiple applications all fall under one software vendor, they each have their own needs and priorities to manage. Keeping track of how they all work together and what application needs what specialized configuration is a complex job to ensure it all works harmoniously together.

I don’t have the internal resources to make sure everyone sticks to the objectives/scope/budget/schedule of the project.

Sometimes, this can be a hard call to make. Clients are budget conscious – they don’t want to spend the money on yet another project role. That’s totally understandable. But it’s also important to realize that a Solution Coordinator’s role is to protect the project budget over the long term. Their purpose is to keep the budget, scope, and schedule for everyone on the project on track and point out when a deployment starts going out of scope or off schedule, which, in turn, ensures the project budget is being used appropriately.

It’s worth noting that, even in a project that is only deploying one or two solutions, you – or your consulting firm – is the Solution Coordinator anyway. Someone has to coordinate the procurement of the application to ensure it’s available for the project team to configure, or make sure the donation web form is available within a day or two of launch of a new CRM system. This could be done by someone internal to the organization, but sometimes, it’s more important for the organization’s staff to focus on the real priorities for the project – getting everyone onboard with their new solution!

Do you think the role of a Solution Coordinator would have assisted with healthcare.gov’s launch?

Kim Kupferman

About Kim Kupferman

Kim Kupferman, Director of Professional Services Kim is a project management expert who leads Heller Consulting teams to help nonprofit organizations solve their database problems and implement the right constituent management systems for their organizations. She is a certified Project Management Professional (PMP) and has extensive experience with Blackbaud’s The Raiser’s Edge®, Salesforce-based solutions, and NetSuite OpenAir™. Kim’s passion is solving problems at the heart of organizations — their databases. Her work has an immediate effect on organizations’ abilities to reach out to their constituents with their messages. And, by sharing her database expertise, she empowers clients to do their jobs better.


  1. Susan Kenna Wright

    Here’s a great related article. This is a great learning opportunity / reminder for all of us.

  2. While a solution coordinator is key, among my techie friends (and myself) it seems like they really did not do enough load testing. They may have done unit-testing to ensure that the site worked well when ONE person was on it, or even when 5000 people are on it, but NOT with the anticipated volume that they should have expected. My uncle does load-testing for call centers for very large corporations, and while it is expensive, worth every penny in that you have a better customer/end user experience.

    So that is something to consider as you deploy a solution! Make sure it will work with the volume of data and users you are expecting.

  3. Wow, I didn’t realize that 1) there were so many companies involved with the launch of Healthcare.gov or 2) that there was no one in charge of overseeing this implementation! No wonder there were so many issues.

    While I think that there were many things that they could have done (and I am sure they wished they had) done differently, sounds like adding an solution coordinator would have helped immensely.

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