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Customer sues Epicor after ERP software project attempt ends in 'big mess'

Chris Kanaracus | Nov. 30, 2011
A would-be Epicor customer is taking the ERP (enterprise resource planning) vendor to court over a "big mess" of a software project that it says ended up battering its bottom line instead of improving operations.

In February, ParknPool expressed its concerns about that deadline being met and in response, EstesGroup workers told them that the software being installed was an "untested and unapplied version" that had to be modified to accommodate ParknPool's drop-ship distribution model, according to the suit.

EstesGroup told ParknPool that it had the ability to complete the system, but also asked that it "close its contract with Epicor" and deal with it directly, the suit states. ParkNPool then signed a contract with EstesGroup but the company was unable to complete the job, it adds.

EstesGroup did not respond when ParknPool sent it a list of problems with the system and ultimately ceased working on it altogether, according to the suit.

ParknPool managed to get through its busy season despite the problems, partly because it had kept running QuickBooks in parallel with Epicor, but "it was a pretty scary time," Fonner said.

ParknPool's suit is asking for US$250,000 in damages along with attorney's fees and other monies. The company has spent at least $250,000 on the Epicor project, according to Fonner. "It's in excess of that, but then you get into those costs you can't measure."

The company's bottom line has been impacted as a result, he said. "We'll definitely take a loss this year."

Epicor "strongly denies the allegations made by ParknPool in its complaint," a spokeswoman said in a statement. "Our products, consulting personnel and partner performed well, all of which Epicor believes will be borne out as we defend our position in any proceedings, including counterclaiming for amounts rightfully owed by ParknPool."

ParknPool is still using QuickBooks and has no immediate plans to try another ERP project, according to Fonner.

"Since then, we've learned different ways of programming against QuickBooks, and kind of set our sights a little bit lower," he said. "It's not that we wouldn't do an ERP again, but that was such a bad experience, my staff here needs some time to get over being wounded like that."

Troubled ERP projects seem to be an unfortunate fact of life in the IT industry.

That said, there are multiple sides to the story in a given project failure, said Michael Krigsman, CEO of Asuret, a consulting firm that advises companies on how to run successful IT implementations.

In the case of ParknPool and Epicor, it's a "massive change to go from QuickBooks accounting system to an ERP system," he said. "Epicor is not QuickBooks -- they're going to function differently."

"What is clear is that neither Epicor nor the SI nor the customer entered this deal for it to fail," he added. "Assuming all parties are basically honest, there was a mismatch of expectations about what the system would do. Unfortunately, lawsuits like this present a highly one-sided version of the truth, and in most cases there's plenty of blame to go around."

 

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