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Allegedly Rigged Product Demo In SAP Suit Goes Missing 210

Posted by timothy
from the dig-deep-fellas dept.
narramissic writes "Waste Management sued SAP in March 2008 over a failed ERP project. Now, well into the pre-trial discovery process, a presale product demonstration software package that Waste Management says was a key element of the 'false representations' SAP made to 'induce Waste Management into entering a software licensing and implementation agreement' has gone missing. Naturally, both sides say the other has it. And SAP, for its part, says it has 'searched extensively' for the system and wants it 'as much or more' as Waste Management, since it 'will help SAP disprove WM's fraud claim.'"
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Allegedly Rigged Product Demo In SAP Suit Goes Missing

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  • by SoupGuru (723634) on Thursday May 28, 2009 @04:55PM (#28130871)

    So this is pretty much like any other sales demo?

  • I for one... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by fuzzyfuzzyfungus (1223518) on Thursday May 28, 2009 @04:58PM (#28130909) Journal
    Would definitely trust SAP on this. Who wouldn't trust an ERP vendor that either managed to lose a vital file or managed to "lose" a vital file?

    Getting to choose between serious incompetence and outright malice is always fun.
  • Re:Hahahaha (Score:5, Insightful)

    by TheRealMindChild (743925) on Thursday May 28, 2009 @05:04PM (#28130989) Homepage Journal
    And truly, that is probably what it was. They were being sold something and couldn't filter out the buzzwords. They thought they were getting X and they got Y. When it came time to show the cards, someone competent looks it over and says "Uh, dude, you just had no idea what you agreed to buy". It happens WAY too much.
  • Oh, oh, SAP (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday May 28, 2009 @05:05PM (#28131003)

    SAP... liquid cement... the firm that sold ERP to CEOs and turned thriving firms into basket cases by forcing wholesale moves to slow, cumbersome, slow-motion systems controlled by an elite of take-it-up-the-ass-and-weep consultants and partners? The firm that pioneered the creation of Euro 1,250 "consultants" who were newbies with sociology majors that had done three months of BAP and knew less about software than a E-scoring CompSci major. The firm that pushed for software patents in Europe because they swallowed the cool aid and were too pussy to compete against FOSS? And finally someone sued them? Where do I donate to the attack fund? God, I *hate* SAP. Bastards, long overdue against the wall. Utter, utter bastards.

  • by Epi-man (59145) on Thursday May 28, 2009 @05:32PM (#28131337) Journal

    Interesting, the link is for events from 1992-97, against former top officers, and is itself from 2002. Do you think the same people are still in charge? The corporation itself isn't necessarily sleezy, those who were running it were sleezy. It is entirely possible the "culture of corruption" still exists at the company, but I don't think this link really provides much evidence of that.

  • by Clandestine_Blaze (1019274) * on Thursday May 28, 2009 @05:37PM (#28131409) Journal

    Any sofware company that cannot find a copy of something they produced for a customer is INCOMPETENT!

    This article talks about a Pre-Sale demo, which is usually where all of the problems occur. Most proof of concept demos done by sales consultants promise the world just to get the client to buy, then scope is reduced significantly. While the majority of sales consultants have some technical background, proof-of-concepts rarely take business flow into account, and generally show what the product can do out of the box.

    This is why a lot of technical guys refer to the sales side as "the dark side" - in reference to how often the tech folks get thrown under the bus when the customer goes "Well your sales guy promised xyz to us, and you're only giving us x!"

    There's no excuse for that.

  • Re:I for one... (Score:3, Insightful)

    by petermgreen (876956) <plugwash.p10link@net> on Thursday May 28, 2009 @05:39PM (#28131425) Homepage

    And how much does it cost those big companies in lost productivity when an unpaid supplier deciedes they have had enough and stops shipments?

  • by sortius_nod (1080919) on Thursday May 28, 2009 @05:47PM (#28131531) Homepage

    Sounds like most projects I've worked on.

    The issue, however, is that SAP made claims based on little to no information, nor people who had any idea on what the outcomes should be. Now, I'm no project management expert, but this seems like a monumentally stupid thing to do.

    Whether the demo was rigged or not, SAP went into an agreement without full details and without real confidence that the product they are delivering would actually do what the client wants.

  • by Todd Knarr (15451) on Thursday May 28, 2009 @05:52PM (#28131591) Homepage

    My guess at what happened: once SAP was done with the demo and left a copy with the customer, whoever was responsible for putting it together cleaned it up. It wasn't needed anymore, and document retention policies and the need to clean up file clutter both dictate it goes. On the WMI side, the techie who got the demo filed it away. It's not like a demo mock-up's going to help a developer. And again, between document retention policies and the general need to get rid of useless junk cluttering up the directories, it got deleted. And then months after that, the lawyers come around looking for it and it's not there.

    This, BTW, is one of the reasons I don't like document retention policies that're designed to make sure things get deleted/destroyed. Sure they may get rid of evidence the other guy could use against you, but at the same time they get rid of evidence you could use to support your case if you end up in court. I normally consider all vendor communications to be "retain indefinitely", likewise all product documentation, specifications, etc.. At some point you will need to be able to look one of their salespeople in the eye and say "Yes, you did promise that and I've got the letter from you to prove it.".

  • by PitaBred (632671) <slashdot@pitabre ... org minus distro> on Thursday May 28, 2009 @05:57PM (#28131639) Homepage
    Yes, but technical people have consciences and morals, which means they wouldn't do very well in management.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday May 28, 2009 @06:16PM (#28131877)
    This is actually a semi-optimistic occurrence. I think you're failing to mention the times when a PoC is shown which only mocks up the major functionality desired by the customer. It's not until they sign on the dotted line that Sales notifies Engineering that they need to produce what was promised.

    "What's the big problem, you've got mock ups of how everything's supposed to look when you're done?!?"
  • by Decameron81 (628548) on Thursday May 28, 2009 @06:35PM (#28132097)

    Sounds like most projects I've worked on.

    The issue, however, is that SAP made claims based on little to no information, nor people who had any idea on what the outcomes should be. Now, I'm no project management expert, but this seems like a monumentally stupid thing to do.

    Whether the demo was rigged or not, SAP went into an agreement without full details and without real confidence that the product they are delivering would actually do what the client wants.

    IMHO it's more complex than that. There's guilt in both sides.

    Customers are guilty in that they often don't bother trying to check if what they are being sold is feasible at all. The end result is that most of the times they are willing to pay for more features in less time, even when that "more" is clearly an impossible goal. For instance if I asked you to develop an MSN clone with a proprietary protocol from scratch, and you told me it'd be ready in a week for $20, I would look for someone else to get it done.

    Problem is when the customer doesn't know better, and is unreasonable.

  • by Archfeld (6757) * <treboreel@live.com> on Thursday May 28, 2009 @06:47PM (#28132223) Journal

    These 2 companies deserve each other like few in the world do... SAP sales folks ARE the KINGS of VAPO-Ware. They will promise ANYTHING in the "next release" and then re-assign any person responsible for making any claims of any type, stating that they are unavailable at this time. WM is one of the lowest of the low and has been tied to corruption and the MOB in more states than I can count on 2 hands. I am just sitting back hoping they will do each other in :D

  • by ppanon (16583) on Thursday May 28, 2009 @07:13PM (#28132541) Homepage Journal

    WM is so impompetent[sic], that they need software to manage their company.

    Wow, so you think that trying to use software to improve your business processes by automating as many deterministic tasks as possible is a sign of incompetence? So what do you do exactly? If you're a programmer, can we assume that you demonstrate your competence by manually translating all your high-level language programs into machine code by hand?

  • by db32 (862117) on Thursday May 28, 2009 @07:31PM (#28132751) Journal
    Aside from the obvious of trusted removal of things like stained rugs and strangely heavy "empty" barrels... There is also an incredible intelligence gathering piece. You know...the same reason that the authorities like digging through your trash for evidence and criminals like digging through your trash for useful information.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday May 28, 2009 @07:46PM (#28132935)

    It's big business and it's tied into communal politics. Need I say more?

  • by hairyfeet (841228) <bassbeast1968.gmail@com> on Thursday May 28, 2009 @08:09PM (#28133199) Journal

    I have to agree, that while it sounds like both sides didn't bring the brightest bulbs to the table, SAP screwed the bigger pooch by signing the agreement without knowing what they were getting into. It is like when I build a new PC. Folks often just want me to quote them some price but I refuse. I ask them to at least give me an IDEA of what they want, to which I usually get something like "Really really fast with a crapload of memory(which you have to watch out for, because half the time they say memory when they mean HDD space) and super duper graphics and..". It reminds me of that old line from Robocop-"I want a car that is really really fast and gets really shitty gas mileage! I want a fully loaded 6000 SUX!

    So then I quote them a crazy price and after they are done choking I say "Now why don't you just sit down and tell what you want to DO with it, and I can help you design an affordable machine that will do what you want and be reliable." and every time their description ends up getting them a dual core with 4Gb of RAM, a 250-500Gb HDD, Onboard Graphics(which are actually pretty good now) and XP Home. And they leave with a smile on their face and are gushing to their friends about how great I am.

    The problem is when the client asked for the moon for $1 SAP said "sure, we'll throw in Mars while we are at it!" instead of simply refusing to sign anything until they sat down with somebody with a brain that could tell them what they actually needed the thing to DO, instead of what they WANTED. Because I have found those two things are almost never even slightly related. IMHO it is always better to give the customer what they need and not what they want. If you meet their needs they are usually happy campers. If you try to give them their desires not only will it be expensive as hell, it will often not actually do what they need. And nothing pisses off a customer more than spending big bucks and finding out after all is said and done they are still stuck with the same problems they had before they paid you.

  • by jsebrech (525647) on Thursday May 28, 2009 @11:59PM (#28134913)

    It means "crappy software with a big name so we can ask you for a big pricetag". How they got it to spell out ERP I'll never know.

  • by jsebrech (525647) on Friday May 29, 2009 @12:14AM (#28135011)

    This happens all the time in the specialized software business.

    Usually the needs are so particular that there's nothing in the market that does exactly what they want. So, you get approached by someone who knows you don't sell what they need, but they hope you can build/adapt something quickly.

    The surprising thing is that if you press for exact specs at the beginning of the project, the entire project is often derailed. The realization by the customer that they don't know what they want is often enough to scare them away from buying a solution for their problem. Sales will put a lot of pressure on development in the form "just give us a general quote, we'll figure it out once they sign". For sales, every signature is a win. For the business as a whole, some projects are money losers.

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