Software Failure Gallery

Few enterprise software purchases meet or exceed expectations.

Some industry observers say that only about twenty percent of major software purchases succeed, while about eighty percent experience partial to outright failure. The seeds of failure are usually sown at the start of the project with an inadequate evaluation and selection, but the fruit of these shortcuts only becomes apparent when implementation dates slip, costs go through the roof and business is seriously disrupted.

This page is a compilation of failure examples across the industry. Go directly to the section corresponding to the size of your purchase:

 

Software failures under $1 million

NetSuite slapped with fraud lawsuit over 'aggressive' salesman's claims

Chris Kanaracus, ITWorld.com

NetSuite is facing a lawsuit from a skin care product retailer that alleges an overzealous salesman led them to buy software that utterly failed to meet their needs. Gulf Coast Medical Group LLC, a Florida company that does business under the name of SkinMedix, had outgrown its website and shopping cart platform and began looking for a replacement that could manage both sales and back-office functions. Its existing system was managing an inventory of 3,000 products but SkinMedix needed something that could eventually handle a 20,000-item inventory.

It quickly became apparent that NetSuite's system was incapable of delivering as promised. NetSuite also failed to meet the deployment deadline, according to SkinMedix. As a result of the salesman's claims, SkinMedix has spent more than $250,000 on a "manifestly unusable" website, the complaint states.

NetSuite socked with lawsuit by textile manufacturer

Chris Kanaracus, PC World

NetSuite has been hit with another customer lawsuit, this time from textile products manufacturer Kentwool, which alleges the cloud ERP vendor pulled the wool over its eyes in order to take its money. Kentwool signed a one-year contract with NetSuite, under which the vendor would “customize, configure and implement its ERP [enterprise-resource-planning] software for Kentwool’s specific needs and uses” .

Kentwool relied on Netsuite's pledges when it decided to sign the contract, but all the while NetSuite knew its software didn’t have the functionality required to live up to the deal, the complaint adds. NetSuite told Kentwool it could fix the problems, but allegedly failed to do so. Kentwool ended up paying US$318,000 to NetSuite, “well in excess” of the original estimate of $246,000.

Texas mental health center files breach of contract lawsuit against software provider

Law Firm Chronicle

A mental health center in Texas is suing a software provider for breach of contract. The lawsuit was filed by the Heart of Texas Region Mental Health Mental Retardation Center (MHMR), against CoCentrix Inc., a Florida-based company. The lawsuit seeks a refund of $250,000 that the agency claims it paid the software provider, as well as triple damages available under the Texas Deceptive Trade Practices Act.

According to the lawsuit, MHMR contracted with UNI/CARE Systems Inc. to provide software for a records system. CoCentrix later assumed all obligations under the contract, which specified that support documentation, training, installation and consulting would be provided. According to the lawsuit, CoCentrix missed more than 10 deadlines for the software to be completed. MHMR states that it terminated the contract and demanded a refund of the money it had paid to the defendant, but CoCentrix did not refund the money.

Million dollar glitch: County pulls plug on court software system

Brian Wilson and Michelle Willard, DNJ.com

After investing two years and almost $1 million to update Rutherford County's antiquated court-management computer system, a new Circuit Court clerk pulled the plug. Now the county, clerk's office and software company are all standing around with fingers pointed, wanting to find out what went wrong and whether a lawsuit might be around the corner.

 

Software failures between $1 million and $10 million

Beverage distributor Major Brands is suing Epicor, claiming 2 year effort delivered "useless" software

Chris Kanaracus, IDG News Service

Beverage distributor Major Brands is suing Epicor, alleging the ERP software vendor failed to deliver a satisfactory system after years of effort and significant cost overruns, and then offered a solution that would force the company to install a new version that hadn't yet been completed, pushing back the original "go-live" date by four years.

Major Brands paid Epicor an initial fee of about US$500,000 for software license and support and roughly $670,000 for implementation services. The software was installed on Major Brands' hardware but "problems with operations, implementation and training" began almost at once, the complaint states. Epicor's application was "running so slowly that it was not going to be suitable for use," it adds.

JB Hunt hits trucking software provider with $3.1 million lawsuit

James Jaillet on Overdrive

Mega-carrier JB Hunt has sued transportation management system provider MercuryGate for $3.1 million — the amount JB Hunt says it’s owed as a refund for software it says failed to meet the functionality agreed upon by the two parties.

The carrier says it bought the Mojo Route Optimization Software and Carrier Management System Software from MercuryGate, planning to use them “in booking loads for delivery, identifying and tracking carriers and logistics management.” According to court documents, JB Hunt says the software “is virtually useless,” save for 1 percent of its brokerage business.

JDA Software Hit With Judgment in Dillard's Dispute

Matt Jarzemsky, Wall Street Journal

Dillard's sued JDA Software Group Inc. alleging i2 software failed to meet obligations regarding two software-license agreements for which the department-store operator had paid $8 million. JDA was ordered to pay $246 million in damages. The award by a state jury in Dallas included $238 million in punitive damages, which isn't meant to be compensatory but is instead meant to deter the defendant and others from engaging in similar conduct.

 

Software failures between $10 million and $100 million

Finish Line's Supply Chain disaster cost CEO his job and $32 million in lost sales

Dan Gillmore, Supply Chain Digest

Finish Line CEO Glenn Lyon stated in the Q3, 2016 earnings report that performance was severely impacted by a disruption in the supply chain following the implementation of a new warehouse and order management system. Finish Line had trouble filling on-line orders and replenishing stores that cost it $32 million in lost sales, or about 8% of the company's revenue, and this caused an 11% drop in their stock price. CEO Lyon announced his departure simultaneously with the Q3 earnings release.

Finish Line had underestimated the challenge of the project, and especially the level of change management in moving from the old system to the new. There was not nearly enough training for associates and supervisors on the floor to help when ramping up the new system, and too much trust was placed in the software vendor and the implementation consultants.

Oracle sued by university for alleged ERP failure

Chris Kanaracus, Computerworld

Montclair State University is suing Oracle over an allegedly botched ERP software project, saying a series of missteps and delays could ultimately cost the school some $20 million more than originally planned, according to a complaint filed last week in U.S. District Court for the District of New Jersey.

Oracle "failed to deliver key implementation services, caused critical deadlines to be missed, refused to make available computer resources that it had promised, failed to deliver properly tested software, and overall, failed to properly manage the project," the complaint alleges. In the end, Montclair suspended the project, fired Oracle and began looking for a replacement systems integrator, it adds. Due to the problems, the school's costs will increase by greater than $10 million, according to the complaint, which goes on to describe Oracle's alleged failings in detail.

Burned by $30 million deal, Marin supervisors seek new software contract

Nels Johnson, Marin News

Mindful of "lessons learned" during the county's $30 million computer collapse, Marin officials will negotiate a new software systems contract with Tyler Technologies, the largest company in the nation focused solely on public sector software and services.

In a brief but carefully orchestrated presentation by a phalanx of top officials, the county administration recommended that top brass "enter into a contract and statement of work negotiations" with Tyler, a company that entered the local government software market in 1998 and has offices in 18 states across the nation, although not in California.

ERP Woes Blamed for Lumber Liquidator's Bad Quarter

Chris Kanaracus, IDG News Service

Lumber Liquidators is attributing a weak third quarter to a complex SAP implementation, saying the project imposed a significant drain on worker productivity. But the problems appear to be largely related to employees having trouble acclimating to the new system, versus malfunctions in the software itself.

The discount flooring chain "implemented the most significant phase" of its SAP project which included a new point-of-sale system along with warehouse management and inventory modules. While business continued without interruption during the project, and net sales rose US$6.7 million to $147.2 million, lower productivity led to an estimated $12 million and $14 million in unrealized net sales, according to the company. Net income fell nearly 45 percent to $4.3 million.

Avantor Performance Materials sues IBM over SAP project 'disaster'

Chris Kanaracus, Computerworld

IBM has been slapped with a multimillion-dollar lawsuit by chemical products manufacturer Avantor Performance Materials, which alleges that IBM lied about the suitability of an SAP-based software package it sells in order to win Avantor's business.

Fully aware that, given the competitive pressures of Avantor's industry, and the specialized demands of its customers, Avantor could not tolerate any disruptions in customer service,  IBM represented that IBM's 'Express Life Sciences Solution' was uniquely suited to Avantor's business," the lawsuit states. "The Express Solution is a proprietary IBM pre-packaged software solution that runs on an SAP platform." But, after signing, Avantor discovered that Express Life was "woefully unsuited" to its business and the implementation brought its operations to "a near standstill," according to the suit.

Avantor has suffered tens of millions of dollars in monetary damages, as well as taken a hit to its reputation among partners and customers, the suit states. "IBM, meanwhile, has already pocketed over $13 million in fees from Avantor for a systems implementation project it mismanaged and was unable to perform properly," the lawsuit states. "Incredibly, IBM is now seeking to profit from its misconduct by demanding millions of dollars in additional fees to redesign and rebuild the defective System it implemented."

 

Software failures over $100 million

Rough ERP go-live leads to 25% decrease in stock price

John Belden, UpperEdge

In October 2015 Select Comfort went live with a big bang ERP implementation linking 3 manufacturing plants, 20 distribution hubs, and over 475 company stores. Select Comfort, with just over $1 billion in sales, spent more than $30 million on the project in 2015, with estimated spending nearing $100 million over the last 3 years.  

Although the CEO had said things were going well with the ERP implementation, a different picture emerged in the January 2016 quarterly earnings release. Overall, sales were down by $83 million, and earnings were $21 million lower than expected. While the worst of the problems caused by the ERP implementation appear to be over, the company was expecting to take a hit of around $45 million more in the next quarter.

Select Comfort have experienced ERP problems before. In 2008 the company halted an SAP ERP implementation because they were over budget and behind schedule, which resulted in a $25 million write off.

Avon's Failed SAP Implementation A Perfect Example Of The Enterprise IT Revolution

Ben Kepes, Forbes.com

The Wall Street Journal covered the news that Avon Products Inc. is halting a massive multi-year software project. Avon’s new management order system was rolled out initially in Canada and was to be extended globally thereafter. Avon balked however when the software rollout not only disrupted regular operations, but when implemented was so difficult to use that Avon representatives left the company “in meaningful numbers”. Avon was forced to write down somewhere between $100M and $125M on its balance sheet.

Waste Management sues SAP over ERP implementation

Chris Kanaracus, IDG News Service

Waste Management sued SAP for fraud over an allegedly failed implementation of its ERP software. The trash-disposal conglomerate had claimed it suffered significant damages, including more than $100 million it spent on the project, which it has dubbed "a complete and utter failure," and more than $350 million for benefits it would have realized if the software had been successful. SAP fired back with charges that Waste Management didn't "timely and accurately define its business requirements" nor provide "sufficient, knowledgeable, decision-empowered users and managers" to work on the project.

Waste Management wanted an ERP package that could meet its business requirements without large amounts of custom development. SAP used a "fake" product demonstration to trick Waste Management officials into believing its software fit the bill, the complaint states. In addition, SAP's technical team had "recommended that SAP deliver to Waste Management a later version of the software than the version SAP in fact delivered," according to the lawsuit.

Bridgestone Sues IBM for Fraud in $600 Million Lawsuit over Failed IT Implementation

Robert N. Charette, Spectrum.ieee.org

This is already turning into one nasty, public fight. The Tennessean ran an article about Nashville-based Bridgestone Americas, Inc., which is part of the Japanese firm Bridgestone Tire and Auto-service Corporation, bringing a US$600 million lawsuit against IBM. Bridgestone alleged in its complaint that when the new US$75 million plus SAP-based invoicing, accounting, and product delivery system went live, it found "that there were extremely serious defects in the IBM SAP design solution as implemented which Bridgestone had no reason to expect and for which IBM offered no explanation consistent with the purported concerns IBM had raised.”

As a result, the lawsuit states, “Bridgestone has suffered damages in excess of $200 million and continues to suffer damages from injury to its reputation and customer relations.”

Price tag for troubled SAP project will skyrocket to nearly $1 billion, audit says

Chris Kanaracus, InfoWorld

An 'overly ambitious design' and poor training are cited as reasons for the mess at a New York gas utility. The cost of finishing a massive SAP software overhaul at National Grid, a New York gas utility, will rise to nearly $1 billion from an original estimate of $383.8 million, a newly released audit report has found.

Immediately upon the go-live, the SAP system was wracked with issues, particularly related to payroll. National Grid ended up bringing in 450 additional contractors to work on the payroll problems, along with 400 more to help out with issues related to supply chain and financial closes, according to the audit by the New York Public Service Commission.