Many people have an opinion on the unsuccessful launch of HealthCare.gov, but few understand the magnitude of the project. HealthCare.gov does not store any data, but instead makes queries to many government databases. For example, income needs to be verified with the IRS, your Social Security number has to be verified with the Social Security Administration, as well as additional information from the Department of Health and Human Services, Department of Homeland Security and insurance carriers. That is only a small portion of the website build. We haven’t even touched on user account management, creating a marketplace, phone users, paper applications, or the checkout process. The most common question I hear is, “How could this have been avoided?”
Whether you are building a website the size of HealthCare.gov or a small WordPress site for a local shop, a good starting point is to reference the project management triangle. The triangle allows you to manage expectations for the quality, the timeline, as well as cost. Ensuring that you have buy-in from all key stakeholders before you start the project will prevent headaches and scope creep.
If you look at the diagram above, there are three components to the project management triangle, however you can only have two at a time, never three.
Good & Cheap – Your website build will take a significant time commitment
Cheap & Fast – Your website isn’t going to be high quality
Fast & Good – Your website will be costly
Before you start building a house, you need to have an architect draw up blueprints for you. They will lay out the framing, the electrical, plumbing, etc. Similarly, for a website you need to think about your “plumbing” and “electricity” before you start building. For example, an eCommerce website will have the following components that need consideration: content management system, order management system, marketing database, customer database, web analytics, shopping cart, XML product feed, payment processing, user login, and potentially more.
Whether you are working with your internal development team, or a third party partner like Kona Company, it’s critical to layout the parts and review, review, review. Once you have finished reviewing and created your blueprint, you’re ready to build.