The Healthcare.gov Website & Why Startups Need Top Talent

Why Startups Need Top Talent

Why Startups Need Top Talent

Healthcare.gov just missed another deadline. The administration set its own deadline of November 30th to get the troubled website fully operational but it is now obvious that even that was too ambitious. Since the October 1 launch the site has been plagued with outages, account creation failures, bad information returned to users and incomplete information sent to insurance companies. After a series of Congressional hearings, the federal government has hired top tech talent to try to patch the system together in what they call a “tech surge,” to borrow military terminology. It’s still unclear exactly what went wrong but there were several problems that experienced tech talent could have seen coming a mile away, such as:

  • Inadequate testing IT execs told Congress they didn’t have enough time to test the system before launch. They ended up beta testing, sometimes alpha testing, the software on the general public. They insist that it wasn’t their call to stick to the launch date but there was no explanation why testing wasn’t done earlier.
  • No backups or monitoring tools It’s not that uncommon for a business to go live once with software that has no backups and no monitoring tools to see how it’s doing. Only once, because either they learn their lesson the hard way or they are out of business. Essentially it amounts to closing your eyes and hoping it works. Monitoring tools have just been added now and backups are in the works.
  • Virtual servers Accessing unused space to run low priority programs whenever system resources become available is efficient. Depending on that for mission critical services with vast amounts of traffic is an amateur move. Dedicated servers, storage and databases are now being added. Deploying cloud services correctly takes highly skilled and experienced talent.

Politcal analyst Andrew Sprung spoke for many who now believe that Healthcare.gov could actually become obsolete before it becomes fully operational. “Purely informational comparison shop sites ValuePenguin and HealthSherpa provide all the information that’s supposed to be available on HealthCare.gov,” he pointed out on Xpostfactoid. Naturally, this begs the question, “Who built those sites and why weren’t they hired in the first place?”

There’s no question the healthcare exchange was an enormous undertaking and there were bound to be complications. Perhaps the government did the best they could given 55 independent contractors trying to coordinate 112 complex systems spread out across the country. The fact is though, that Google and Yahoo also operate vast and complex system with huge spikes in traffic and they deliver it around the world for free everyday.

What makes the difference? Top talent. Tech giants like Google and Yahoo can afford to offer the best salaries and perks to attract the best programmers and executives from around the world. Princeton University recently incorporated into their tech courses a white paper called, The Talent Wars: Today’s Toughest Startup Challenge. The takeaway from the study was that top talent are absolutely essential for launching and maintaining new ventures. The paper clearly states the critical nature of the issue; “For startups, winning the talent wars may not be easy, but it isn’t optional either.”

Something good may yet come of this debacle, as long as tech startups study the failures here and recognize why having exceptional people and experienced management is so important. As the old saying goes, “The fool learns from his own mistakes. The wise man learns from the mistakes of others.”

Millennium Search is an executive search firm helping emerging startups and technology companies find and secure top talent for their executive, technical, marketing and sales teams. With a broad network of VC relationships, an extensive pool of talent and a veteran recruiting team, Millennium Search consistently creates results that outperform the competition, from the C-Level down to individual contributor roles. To learn more about our executive recruiting solutions, contact us today!

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