Buyer's revenge hits IT purchasing cycle

Customers are in the "buyer's revenge" stage of the IT purchasing cycle, still smarting from an era of technology hype where vendors enjoyed the luxury of easy sales and market naivete.

Even vendors are willing to admit those days are long gone with Technology One executive chairman Adrian Di Marco describing customers today as far more astute in the wake of widespread media coverage of ugly IT disasters.

As an example, he cited the Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology (RMIT) debacle which involved the implementation of an academic management system that blew out to $47 million, three times the original cost.

An audit by the Victorian government last month found the RMIT system had poor functionality and was actually updated manually with many staff returning to the old system because the new one was so problematic.

Di Marco said such disasters paint a poor picture of the entire industry with customers typically left saying, "We saw the glossy brochures and the PowerPoint slides but you didn't deliver."

While customers are far more aware than they were a few years ago, he said they should still be demanding more specifically a "fixed price and fixed time" on delivery.

"Even today customers are signing off on projects without a fixed price or fixed time, because many of the larger vendors do not do this; they are not accountable for project failures," he said.

"Instead, accountability is passed on to a third-party because many vendors don't implement their own products leaving contracts open ended.

"Customers need to choose their vendors wisely and ensure there is an application framework in place when tackling projects."

Di Marco said an open application framework provides a starting point for a software system to be built enabling project teams to focus on solving the business need rather than struggling to tame the technologies.

Despite the IT horror stories there are some successes such as the Victorian government's registration system for land titles which has won three awards.

The Land Registry's systems and infrastructure branch acting manager John Payne said the fully automated electronic system manages 3.9 million land titles which were previously paper-based.

He said the project was delivered on time and on budget after the equivalent of 8000 days of design and development.

"It has dramatically reduced the length of time it takes to register documents from three weeks to immediate, over-the-counter registration; we now have a total e-conveyancing system," he said.

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