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This week the Society of IT Management (SOCITM) issued a timely warning to councils about the dangers of putting to...
This week the Society of IT Management (SOCITM) issued a timely warning to councils about the dangers of putting too much faith in a supplier. 'Caveat Emptor' is a detailed analysis of the circumstances which ended with St Albans DC and ICL facing each other across a court room in a bitter and expensive dispute, finally settled in the Appeal Court in 1996.

This report is relevant because as we approach the year 2000 more and more organisations will find that they have no choice but to accept the terms and conditions laid down by their suppliers. It will become a sellers market. Faced with new legislation and tight timescales and a requirement for new software this is exactly the position that St Albans found themselves in, back in 1988. Having embarked upon a course of action St Albans felt that they had no option but to see it through to the bitter end. The report covers issues such as breach of trust, the competence of individuals and organisations. It describes how St Albans received conflicting advice, and details the impact on points of law.

SOCITM President Mark Wheatley comments:-

'This is a tale of an authority which took a careful and disciplined approach to a major procurement during those difficult times when the last Government was unleashing a torrent of legislation which local authorities were expected to implement at the drop of a hat. The mettle of package software suppliers was sorely tested. When things went wrong, the authority was able to work successfully together to challenge questionable contract conditions and recover a substantial amount of the public money which had been lost.

'But is this not all in the past? Not necessarily! We are about to enter another turbulent era. There are bound to be problems with the performance of software in the run up to Year 2000. There will probably be discrepancies between what was promised and what is delivered with significant business impact ......'

SOCITM 's 44 page report provides guidance and advice on how to de-risk the process. The objectives are to warn all who follow to keep Councils and companies out of court and to ensure, as far as possible, that future investment goes into IT and not into the pockets of lawyers and insurance companies .

For further information contact John Serle on 01522 553700

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