The scariest software project horror stories of 2012

Billions of dollars were wasted and tempers ran hot as multiple projects hit the skids this year

By , IDG News Service |  Software

"The big question is how does it happen?" Krigsman added. "Where are the controls? Why does it keep happening and when is it going to stop. Is government IT totally out of control?"

California courts throw huge software project on scrap heap

A project that was intended to modernize case management for California's court system was scrapped in March, despite the fact that officials deemed the software developed so far was viable. The problem? Not enough money to continue rolling out.

California spent more than $300 million to develop a number of versions of the case management system. However, it would require another $343 million to implement and support the system in 11 courts through fiscal year 2020-2021, according to an independent audit.

Some earlier versions of the system are in place at certain courts, but they aren't able to handle all case types.

In part, the decision to pull the project's plug can be attributed to the severe financial pressures California has faced in recent years. But even if it had been completed, the system may have become outdated quickly, according to a 2011 report by the state's auditor.

"We have a perfect storm of the right hand not talking to the left," Krigsman said. "A classic example of needless waste."

Manufacturer sues IBM over SAP project 'disaster'

Also in November, chemical products maker Avantor Performance Materials lodged a suit against IBM, alleging that Big Blue officials lied about the suitability of an SAP-based software package it sells in order to land Avantor as a client.

As it turned out, the Express Life Sciences Solution was "woefully unsuited" for Avantor and the ensuing software project took the company to a "near standstill," according to its lawsuit.

In fact, IBM workers told Avantor that the project was the worst they'd ever seen, Avantor alleges.

Other allegations have a familiar ring to them, having been cited by other plantiffs in various ERP lawsuits. One is that IBM allegedly staffed the project with "incompetent and reckless" workers who made scads of errors. IBM also cut corners in order to reach a go-live date sooner rather than later, a move that resulted in "disaster," according to Avantor.

In a statement, IBM called Avantor's complaints "exaggerated and misguided," and said it plans a vigorous defense.

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