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15 famous ERP disasters, dustups and disappointments

Josh Fruhlinger,Thomas Wailgum | July 11, 2017
It's no wonder ERP has such a bad reputation: The history surrounding the complex and expensive enterprise software market is packed with tales of vendor mud-slinging, outrageous hype and epic failures.

The project eventually cost HP $160 million in order backlogs and lost revenue—more than five times the project's estimated cost. Said Gilles Bouchard, then-CIO of HP's global operations: "We had a series of small problems, none of which individually would have been too much to handle. But together they created the perfect storm."


9. A new type of freshman hazing

Pity the college freshman at the University of Massachusetts in fall 2004: The last thing they needed was some computer program to haunt their lives and make their new collegiate experience even more uncertain.

But more than 27,000 students at the University of Massachusetts as well as Stanford and Indiana University were forced to do battle with buggy portals and ERP applications that left them at best unable to find their classes and at worst unable to collect their financial aid checks. Said one UMass senior at the time: "The freshmen were going crazy because they didn't know where to go." After a couple of tense days and weeks, however, everyone eventually got their checks and class schedules.


10. Waste Management trashes its "fake" ERP software

Garbage-disposal giant Waste Management is still embroiled in an acrimonious $100 million legal battle with SAP over an 18-month installation of its ERP software. The initial deal began in 2005, but the legal saga commenced in March 2008, when Waste Management filed suit and claimed SAP executives participated in a fraudulent sales scheme that resulted in the massive failure.

Several months later, SAP fired back, claiming that Waste Management allegedly violated its contractual agreement with SAP in several ways, including by "failing to timely and accurately define its business requirements," and not providing "sufficient, knowledgeable, decision-empowered users and managers" to work on the project.

In the fall 2008, accusations were still flying about documentation, depositions and delays in bringing the case before a judge. And that proposed 18-month implementation now sounds like a dream scenario.


11. The curious case of Oracle Fusion Applications

Back in January 2006, Oracle boasted that it was halfway through the Fusion Applications development process. You might remember the hype about Fusion Apps: a killer enterprise application suite that combines the best features and functionalities taken from Oracle's expansive E-Business Suite, J.D. Edwards, PeopleSoft and Siebel product lines.

Oracle's master plan was to "build the next-generation of applications that are completely standard." More than three years later, we're all still waiting for the first generation of Oracle's suite of Fusion Apps. Guess what? We'll have to wait some more. How does 2010 sound?


12. Oracle, SAP and a little company named TomorrowNow


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