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Cover Oregon Diagnosis: Oracle Overdose
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David F. Carr
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David F. Carr,
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3/14/2014 | 12:00:28 PM
What's your diagnosis of Oracle's role in the Cover Oregon health insurance exchange?
I tried to pull out the details most interesting to IT executives and project managers, but I'd be interested in your analysis of what's most significant in the federal report on what went wrong.

The journalists at the Oregonian deserve credit for uncovering this report, the existence of which state officials had been trying to keep quiet. TV station KATU dug up the Oracle case study I cite, mentioned in a January feature on how the state's grand vision complicated the project.
D. Henschen
IW Pick
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D. Henschen,
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3/14/2014 | 1:33:40 PM
Re: What's your diagnosis of Oracle's role in the Cover Oregon health insurance exchange?
Keep in mind that this is a federally funded report, and we saw the same "blame the vendor" reflexes in Minnesota when it came to that state's dealings with IBM. I'm not at all surprised to see an Oracle-centric product mix in an Oracle-led project. The money line in the federal report is this: "...there are other State Based Marketplaces utilizing elements of the Oracle product portfolios, without doubt, but CO has, without doubt, the most complex mix." What I would want to know is what are the pieces that are proven in this role and which, if any, pieces seem to be ill-suited to the task at hand.

Siebel plays in plenty of high-scale, consumer-facing Web environments, but what's really surprising here is the lack of project and development management capabilities and controls -- if the federally funded analysis is to be trusted. CO is ultimately responsible for making sure that it delivers what's promised. The question I have is did it really vet the technologies and vendors the successful state-based marketplaces have used?
David F. Carr
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David F. Carr,
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3/14/2014 | 1:40:11 PM
Re: What's your diagnosis of Oracle's role in the Cover Oregon health insurance exchange?
The implication seems to be that Oracle took advantage of the opportunity to pack every element of its portfolio into this project, whether it was the best match for the job or not. On the other hand, a friend I discussed this story with made the point that it's Oracle's job to sell as much software as possible -- and the customer's job to know when to say no.
jds83210
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jds83210,
User Rank: Apprentice
3/14/2014 | 2:36:14 PM
Re: What's your diagnosis of Oracle's role in the Cover Oregon health insurance exchange?
If Oracle is running the project, yeah they are going to use Oracle products, everyone knows this.  Oracle products work best with other Oracle products.  This project screems poor project managment, no change controls, poor communication amoung team members, and a lack of leadership.  It sounds like there was no lead systems artichect and is classic too many IT egos getting in the way.  IT egos are solved by good project management who can make these egos work together for the common goal. 
David F. Carr
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David F. Carr,
User Rank: Author
3/14/2014 | 5:00:28 PM
Re: What's your diagnosis of Oracle's role in the Cover Oregon health insurance exchange?
To me, the most damning thing in the report is that Oracle Consulting Services wasn't particularly good at configuring Oracle products to work with other Oracle products. Yes, you might assume that products from the same vendor would work well together, and that consultants employed by the vendor would be the best experts you could get to configure and integrate them.

Doug makes a good point that the report shouldn't be taken as gospel and may contain its own biases. Still, it's a scorcher
Pabodie
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Pabodie,
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4/28/2014 | 11:07:38 PM
Re: What's your diagnosis of Oracle's role in the Cover Oregon health insurance exchange?
My head is sore from slapping. After, like a lot of folks, I was exposed to his story by John Oliver's show, I fished for a few good articles about the troubles to see what was real and what was babble. I'm stunned to find that the most damning tidbits turn out to be facts. $300 million for a website? Let's just ignore Oregon's population, and the expected user base, and the interfaces that would need to be implemented with Siebel, et al. $300 million? If Oracle's stack really costs that much to implement over the course of 2 years, shame on them. Even $100 million would be utterly outrageous. But for the state to be suckered into this looting? Sounds like we were taken for one of the greatest rides in the history of conswindling. To wit: "Would I have liked to have the Ferrari day one?" [Exec Dir Rocky King] said. "You betcha. Is it a surprise to me? No." Based on other states' experiences, King called Oregon's scaled-down website the right decision. OMGWTFBBQ. Time to start doomsday prepping.
David F. Carr
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David F. Carr,
User Rank: Author
3/14/2014 | 1:36:58 PM
Baltimore switching to Connecticut platform
Story of another troubled project: Maryland may dump its health insurance exchange in favor of one developed for Connecticut, says Baltimore Sun http://buff.ly/1kRtk8d 
Charlie Babcock
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Charlie Babcock,
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3/14/2014 | 4:50:03 PM
Lack of transparency, over sight; shades of Montclair State University
Montclair State University in N.J. had some similar problems as it tried to automate student registration and other campus functions. There's an element of the two sides not being able to talk to each other, combined, I think, with some arrogance toward the customer that brings these disputes and failures about. See  http://www.informationweek.com/applications/oracle-sued-over-alleged-erp-project-cost-overruns/d/d-id/1097907
Somedude8
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Somedude8,
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3/15/2014 | 12:04:23 PM
Too Much Money
Projects can have too much budget, this might be one. Having poked around a few of the State websites, I don't see how these budgets of the size being put together can be justified. I am not talking about slightly inflated budget, but order of magnitude.

I sense a lot of "the stew really has to be done in 2 hours, so instead of 1 chef in the kitchen, lets put 100".

Maybe I missed some big chunks, but what I have seen of these sites, we are talking 12-15 person team, 4-6 months. These 8 digit budgets are just completely nuts.
jries921
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jries921,
User Rank: Ninja
3/15/2014 | 2:57:33 PM
Money politics?
I remember years ago it came out that the State of California under Governor Gray Davis had more Oracle licenses than it did employees (the number was subsequently substantially reduced).  It was theorized at the time that this was a political thank you to Larry Ellison, but I don't know how much investigation was done.  It's possible that money politics is rearing its ugly head in this case also.  It's clear that an investigation is necessary, but the proper forum is the Oregon Legislative Assembly with some backup from Congress to the extent that federal money was used in the project.


I'm guessing that some changes to procurement practices will come from this.

 


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