Marchant Letter to Osberg 2-12-07 | Project Management | Business

340 Interstate North Parkway, SE Atlanta, Georgia, 30339 Tel: (770) 303 – 4438 Fax: (770) 303-4434

February 12, 2007

Brian Osberg Assistant Commissioner of Health Care Minnesota Department of Human Services

Re: Letter of January 23, 2007

Dear Mr. Osberg: It would appear that your management team is obfuscating a number of issues in the hope of avoiding culpability in the project delays. As I have stated on a number of occasions - verbally, by email and by formal letter, to yourself and former Commissioner Goodno, we strongly recommend that you replace key members of your management team and conduct an independent review of the State’s processes. The continued emotional baggage of the current management team is cause for the defense of poor State practices and a focus on Albion versus the correction of core State execution issues. The State has clearly been under-resourced in critical design areas and is over a year behind in its last commitment to wrap up design issues in December 2005. I dislike having to respond to the items in your mail, as they distract from the forward focus that is needed to complete the project. However: Delays in delivery of builds There is no offshore development currently under way. The SWAT team approach was effective in resolving defects in a faster manner. There are no metrics that suggest that the defect count was higher than would be expected on a project of this size and complexity. Build 11 was a massive undertaking and is the heart of the system and as such the delay is neither particularly surprising or without cause. We are currently delivering code materially on schedule and of a high quality. The one issue that is preventing the final wrap-up of all software development is the State’s year-old outstanding design issues. Level of effort and staffing estimations We stand by our estimates. As stated above we are materially on schedule to be code complete on the delivery of the HealthMatch product using the current resources. Additional work is required to implement the State’s change orders and the deferred designs or changing designs of the State. These will be included in the change order estimates. Impact of delays on DHS test activities A State organization and management team that was hungry for success would have found a way to begin testing and leverage the available time in the schedule. Interim UAT was avoided by the State as it was not ready to start testing – it neither had the staff available nor the testing scripts


JANUARY 17, 2014

and scenarios developed. I encourage you to seek honest answers with respect to the State’s readiness. In an earlier correspondence I had suggested you conduct an independent PMO review as we suspected at the time that the State was not prepared to start this project phase. Albion’s code delays were merely an excuse to avoid the start of aggressive (interim) UAT testing. It should be noted that the State chose to continue testing a Build 11 release that was two (2) months older than the current; therefore the State-discovered defects were artificially high (many were duplicates, many already resolved, etc) and so Albion ceased to use this as input. This was a poor State management decision and compounded the effect of avoiding the start of Interim UAT. Albion staff issues The need for a fulltime QA manager role ends at the end of the Integration Test phase. This is based on advice from our independent QA auditors. Since there is a diminishing need for this role it is unnecessary, and difficult, to replace this role. The deferral of the QA replacement was agreed to by the State. We disagree with the State’s contention that this affects the project in any meaningful way; if it did then we would have done something about it. It is just an item that State management can find to chide Albion and is another example of the State project management team focusing on appearance over substance. We disagree with the comment regarding the “unavailability of key Albion staff” having a “serious negative impact on project activities”. All Albion key staff are available fulltime on the project and located in Minnesota. Gandhi Dasi replaced Achim Suit as Technical Architect when his child was diagnosed with a brain tumor. However, I continue to make Achim available to the project and he works from home three weeks out of four. I am happy to remove Achim altogether if this is what is needed to establish clarity that he has been replaced by Gandhi. The other items sound like possible issues of responsiveness with one or two individuals. I suggest that minutia like this be handled by the project managers directly. Project management and communications The project plans are available on the State’s X drive and have been throughout the project. I encourage you to have someone investigate why the DHS Project Management team is not accessing these plans, updating the State child-plans and monitoring progress on the execution of the State’s schedule. Citing a complex technical issue of database synchronization as a communication issue is somewhat of a stretch. For those that are interested we have reduced the number of branches in the code repository and this will simplify database synchronization. For those that have a deeper interest, the reason for the number of coding branches was a direct result of the ever-changing State designs. The average number of changes to a design document is 13 with some documents having over 100 revisions.

I agree that the project is at an unacceptable level of risk. However I disagree that Albion is in any way responsible. The recent “surprise” at the amount of unhandled State design issues and change orders is the key issue and worthy of a root cause analysis by the State. The issues mentioned by the DHS project management are an attempt to obfuscate the root causes and are best characterized as over-reaching. The State must be prepared to make difficult decisions and not just ask that Albion make all the difficult decisions. I would recommend: Changing the State Contract Manager and Project Manager. The State needs to inject ‘new blood’ and greater capabilities into the project. As part of the above, the State needs to follow basic best practices in project execution in order to resolve the State’s schedule management issues, change order management, delivery sign-off, issue resolution, and the never-ending churn of design changes.


JANUARY 17, 2014

Undertake a business re-engineering exercise on document approval. This is really part of the above point, but document sign-off takes far too long, requires too many iterations, documents sit on individual’s desks for far too long, etc. The QA deliverable, for example, took twelve (12) months to sign off. Add more State resources to move designs along faster Manage the design resolution as a critical path item with executive oversight

It is clear that HealthMatch can be the pre-eminent implementation of Health eligibility in the country. We look forward to the resolution of the change order issues and an improvement in DHS execution to make that goal a reality. I think that Albion has demonstrated that it is committed to the project and has invested in the success of HealthMatch. We continue to add staff to ensure schedule adherence and refine our internal processes.


Rob Marchant President Albion Cc. Kevin Malone Larry Woods

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