When implemented correctly, enterprise resource planning (ERP) software has the potential to revolutionize a company. However, implementations do not always go as planned, and ERP failure is all too common.
The consequences of ERP failure can be financially and operationally devastating. From shareholder litigation to executive turnover and client fallout, there are myriad issues that business leaders could encounter. In some cases, these problems can escalate into an ERP lawsuit.
If you’re an attorney preparing to represent a client in an ERP lawsuit, you likely will need an industry professional on your team who can decode the jargon, analyze the details and provide an unbiased opinion. This is where an ERP expert witness comes in.
We work for both plaintiffs and defendants, software vendors, system integrators and their customers.
Today, we’re sharing a few ways this professional can work with your legal team to help you successfully navigate an ERP lawsuit.
Different Forms of ERP Failure
An ERP implementation requires advanced knowledge of how the technology works and the ways it can benefit the organization. Unfortunately, many businesses are still building their competency in the ERP realm.
Some of these companies attempt to implement ERP without consultant guidance, and some hire the wrong experts. In both these situations, ERP failure is likely.
Here are a few different ways an ERP implementation can fail:
- Going over budget
- Taking longer than expected
- Under-delivering on ERP business benefits
Recent Examples of ERP Failure
Even the most well-run company isn’t immune to ERP failure. Consider the following recent examples of high-profile companies that saw a negative ROI on their ERP investment and ended up in a whirlwind of devastation that affected their relationships, reputation and bottom line:
- Leaseplan’s failed SAP implementation
- MillerCoors’ failed SAP implementation
- Lidl’s failed SAP implementation
- Worth & Co.’s failed Oracle implementation
- Revlon’s failed SAP implemetation
- National Grid’s failed SAP implemetation
- Woolworth’s Australia’s failed SAP implemetation
- Washington Community College’s failed Oracle upgrade
The Role of an ERP Expert Witness
While your team of attorneys can help organizations through the legal process and paperwork, there are some details that might be beyond your realm of expertise.
More specifically, you need someone who can speak to the advanced nature of ERP systems and pinpoint exactly where and why your client’s implementation failed. Enter, the ERP expert witness.
In a traditional courtroom, an expert witness is someone who is called upon to testify in a trial due to their advanced knowledge or skills in an area that is relevant to the case. When it comes to an ERP trial, this person provides litigation support to attorneys representing a range of plaintiffs and defendants, including:
- Software developers
- System integrators
- End-user clients
Rather than being tied to one particular law firm or software vendor, this expert witness remains unbiased and independent. Ideally, they will have experience with hundreds of different vendors, so they can speak confidently on a range of allegations, including:
- Software capability misrepresentations
- Fraud and misrepresentation
- Breach of contract
- Customization and integration errors
- Implementation planning, resourcing and budgeting errors
5 Benefits of Hiring an ERP Expert Witness
Are you preparing to represent a vendor, system integrator or ERP end-user in court? Let’s take a look at a few of the benefits you can expect to receive when you bring an ERP expert witness on board:
1. Unbiased Viewpoint
As mentioned earlier, an ERP expert witness will work independently of any law firm or software vendor. They will have experience working with both ERP vendors and end-users, as well as both plaintiffs and defendants. In other words, they won’t come into the trial with any preconceived notions that could sway them.
This puts them in a unique position to offer a fully unbiased viewpoint. It also empowers them to determine if a lawsuit is even feasible, or if there is a more viable path toward resolution.
2. Technical Expertise
It’s no secret that the ERP software industry is ripe with jargon and technical details. If you enter into your case with only a vague notion of how the mechanisms work, defending your point can be nearly impossible.
An ERP expert witness is well-versed in the industry and can speak confidently on the root cause of the failure, no matter how complex it may be.
3. Deposition Experience
Taking the stand at a trial can be a nerve-wracking and overwhelming experience for anyone. Yet, it does not phase an ERP expert witness. This professional has given a sworn testimony under oath before and understands closely how the court system works.
If you call a witness who isn’t familiar with the court deposition process, it can be easy for them to skip key details, forget important facts or simply let emotion get the best of them. In contrast, an unbiased and removed expert witness can represent your case eloquently and skillfully.
4. Project Management Expertise
Many times, an ERP project tanks because of failures or miscommunications that occurred at some point in the project management process. In fact, a qualified and dedicated project manager is critical to the success of any ERP rollout.
Your ERP expert witness will have experience in ERP project management. They will know how resources should be allotted, timelines determined and expectations managed. This enables them to closely analyze the project management steps that took place during a failed implementation to determine where the issue originated and which parties are responsible.
5. Exhaustive Examination of Project Documentation
To succeed in court, you need an ERP expert witness who will review all the documentation surrounding your client’s failed ERP project and mine those documents for key insights that could help your case.
Was the timeline or budget off from the very beginning? Were the anticipated business results incorrectly stated or exaggerated by the vendor? In court, opinion is secondary to fact, and the more concrete details you can provide, the better.
Yet, it’s no secret that there can be tomes of ERP data and process documentation to work through. In this case, it’s best to hire an expert witness firm comprised of multiple ERP consultants using a team-based approach.
Navigate an ERP Lawsuit with Confidence
When your team of attorneys is tasked with representing a client in an ERP lawsuit, an ERP expert witness can help provide the fair, balanced, facts-based testimony you need. Our team of ERP consultants has served in this capacity for a variety of clients, playing a role in some of the highest-profile cases to date.
If you’re in need of our services, request a free consultation below.