Waste Management's $100 million claim against SAP is a how-to in how not to acquire enterprise software. The case itself recalls the great "Halloween-candy scandal of 1999," when Hershey said SAP did roughly the same things as Waste Management said about SAP in its April 2008 legal filings in the Houston Federal District Court. Of course Hershey didn't sue SAP and seems to be a continuing good reference, based on a quick look at SAP.com.
Still, SAP America should realize the customer is always right and not let anything like this get to court. According to an Internet search, the case has already been "remanded" somewhere and maybe that means settlement is being discussed. (Update to follow if I hear back from the principals.)
But the details as laid out in the Waste Management legal documents are instructive for all IT shops looking at acquiring and deploying enterprise applications software from any supplier. Remember, it's a Capitalism 101 rule that when you are buying anything, you are in an adversarial position. I know the lawyers wrote this and not Waste Management's IT folks, but consider the following things Waste Management said it did as "don'ts" the next time you look at acquiring or deploying enterprise software:
Actually the $100 million includes lost opportunity costs, not out-of-pocket costs, which Waste Management says in a 10-Q filing are around $50 million. There is one important DO, in the legal filing: Always consider opportunity costs when planning your enterprise software acquisitions.
As an aside, you wouldn't think "U.S. waste" is much different from other countries' waste. But the Waste Management legal filing points out that the order-to-cash process for waste management in the U.S. is really different than in Europe because of less regulation.
Still, is taking away bottles and newsprint from U.S houses that different than delivering soda or newspapers to the same houses initially?