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Friday, Nov. 1, 2013, 8:57 p.m.
 

No easy ‘fix'

In the news story “Healthcare.gov's nightmare” in the Oct. 23 print editions of the Trib, The Associated Press reported that “Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius said ... her agency is bringing in more experts and specialists from government and industry, including top Silicon Valley companies” to address the massive problems with the launch of the ObamaCare website. President Obama and Ms. Sebelius would be well-advised to read the book “The Mythical Man-Month: Essays on Software Engineering” by Fred Brooks, who successfully managed the development of one of IBM's largest software projects, OS/360.

Brooks' basic message relative to managing a software project is that “adding manpower to a late software project makes it later.” This concept is known in software engineering as Brooks' Law.

Although the time required to complete many projects (e.g., construction, manufacturing, etc.) can be shortened by adding personnel, the approach does not work for many others. Brooks mentions as an example, somewhat anecdotally, that nine months are required to produce a baby, no matter how many obstetricians or medical technicians are assigned to the effort. The HealthCare.gov website fits this model.

Wayne Baughman

Salem

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