Software projects are complex, requiring a combination of technical expertise, effective project management, and clear communication. Software project failure remains a common occurrence with a variety of factors contributing to the problem.

Organizations experiencing a software implementation failure, such as an ERP system failure, often file lawsuits and hire attorneys to defend their cases. These attorneys then seek the help of a software expert witness.

A software expert witness (or ERP expert witness) is a software failure expert who provides litigation support to attorneys representing software developers, system integrators, or end-user clients. The expert witness works closely with attorneys to determine where the failure points lie within software project failures.

If you’re an attorney, software developer, VAR, or end-user seeking a software failure expert witness, here are ten tips for finding a good one:

1. Look for an expert witness who is unbiased.​

Does the ERP expert witness have any associations with specific software vendors or system integrators? If so, this should disqualify the expert from being involved in your case. This bias is not always revealed upfront.

Contemplating litigation?

We have multiple software expert witnesses available for provision of reports, depositions, and testimonies.

2. Find an expert witness who has worked with both vendors and end-user clients.​

A failure expert witness who does not have multiple years of experience with both sides of the equation should be disqualified, as this may indicate bias toward particular types of clients.

3. Assess their testimony experience.​

Do they have the technical expertise to accurately analyze a case? Do they have experience being deposed, and have they given expert testimony before a judge or arbitrator? Do they have experience preparing expert reports?

Expert reports are detailed documents that provide an in-depth analysis of a software project’s performance, identifying areas of strength and weakness. These reports are often used in legal proceedings to support claims of negligence, breach of contract, or other issues related to software project failure.

4. Determine if they use an individual or team-based approach.

Will one software failure expert do all the work themselves? If so, this may create a cost issue. There may be thousands of documents to review to find the root causes of failure, and you don’t want to pay the rate of an expert witness for work that a qualified analyst can accomplish.

5. Determine if the expert has previously been disqualified.​

Has the expert ever been disqualified prior to testimony? This is one of the first questions opposing council will ask, and if the answer is “yes,” then the expert will likely be disqualified again.

6. Consider the amount of experience the software failure expert witness has.

How many cases has your failure expert witness worked on? If the answer is one (or fewer), you should question the expert to see how he or she holds up under intense scrutiny.

You should also consider how many software implementations the expert has worked on as a consultant (not as an expert witness). This consulting experience provides the “boots on the ground” knowledge necessary for speaking with authority in the courtroom. Someone who is an expert witness and consultant will display the level of credibility you need to win your case.

7. Find an expert who has consistent historical documentation.

Does your expert have a consistent history represented in his or her CV, resume, expert witness listings, social media, and other sources? Inconsistencies will be researched by opposing council and brought to light in deposition or testimony, which may result in disqualification.

8. Look for an expert with a history of publication.

Has your expert been interviewed by reputable media sources? Has he or she personally published articles or whitepapers? Some experts will take another person’s work and represent it as their own.

9. Look for schedule flexibility.

Often, deposition and court dates are not fixed. Is your expert’s schedule flexible enough to adjust to movements in times and dates by opposing council or the court?

10. Find an expert who is detail-orientated.

Is your expert a detailed person who will dedicate the required time and effort to provide an exhaustive examination of the facts? Or are they a person who will improvise when faced with tough questions? Your expert needs thorough knowledge of the issues impacting the case, whether these are related to computer software, project management, or organizational change management.

Reasons for Software Project Failure​

Software project failure can occur for many reasons, including poor project management, inadequate testing, insufficient resources, and changing requirements.

To prevent ERP failure, organizations must have effective software project management processes in place. This includes developing clear project requirements, establishing realistic timelines and budgets, and allocating adequate resources.

In addition to effective software project management, organizations must also be willing to learn from past failures and make necessary changes to their approach. This might mean implementing new project management methodologies.

An Experienced Software Failure Expert in Action

A state government agency experienced a failed software implementation and considered suing its selection and implementation partner. The consulting firm was tasked with replacing the agency’s tax collection systems, but project deliverables were delayed, and the project suffered from a lack of staffing. The project had also run overbudget and had poor project management.

The government agency engaged an expert witness to determine the feasibility of a lawsuit. Had the consulting firm met the contract terms? Was legal action warranted or were the delays and staffing issues within reason?

The expert witness team audited several thousand case documents to develop an analysis and argument for the legal team. The team determined the project delays were unreasonable, and the consulting firm hadn’t provided promised resources. Documenting their findings in a 70-page analysis, the team gave the agency confidence in their proposed lawsuit.

The ERP lawsuit helped the agency recover tens of millions of dollars in lost business benefits and consulting fees.

The government agency was successful because they hired a team as opposed to a single expert. The team had a breadth of experience working for both plaintiffs and defendants and had significant selection and implementation experience. The team was Panorama Consulting Group.

Find the Right Expert

Failure expert witnesses play a critical role in legal cases related to software project failure. They use their knowledge and expertise to provide an objective analysis of software performance and identify areas of weakness that may have contributed to project failure.

Following the above guidelines when looking for a software failure expert will save you time and money in the long run. While it takes time to investigate expert witness qualifications, your efforts will pay off when your chosen expert delivers expert reports and testimony that wins the case.

Contact our ERP expert witness team below for a free consultation.

About the author

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As Director of Panorama’s Expert Witness Practice, Bill oversees all expert witness engagements. In addition, he concurrently provides oversight on a number of ERP selection and implementation projects for manufacturing, distribution, healthcare, and public sector clients.

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