A paper originally presented to the PMSA Global Knowledge Conference,
Monday May 10, 2004,
Midrand, South Africa.
Published here January 2005.

Introduction | The Project | Project Management Processes | Progress
Things Start to Go Wrong | Workshop Outcome | Next Steps | What Went Wrong?
The Purchase Process and Buyer's Remorse | Suggestions to Avoid Similar Situations
Commentary | Issues for Discussion

Hessel Friedlander
Born and bred in Cape Town, Hessel Friedlander spent time as a programmer before becoming a business analyst, where he was then able to finally appreciate the users' perspective. He has managed a variety of Information Technology projects. These have included software development, business strategy as well as infrastructure moves. He has an interest in education and part of his job, in a very part-time capacity, is to develop and run internal training courses. Hessel Friedlander may be contacted by Email at hesself@hotmail.com


This paper describes a project in which everything was done as agreed but the client refused to accept the final product. What makes it unusual is that the client did not have a problem with the deliverables of the project. In addition, the client did not feel that the Service Provider (SP) had done anything different from what had been agreed in the project scope document. Instead the client simply said that what was supplied did not meet its expectations.

This paper will be divided into three parts. Part 1 gives a high-level overview of the project. Part 2 looks at how things suddenly went wrong and Part 3 makes suggestions as to how to avoid similar situations in the future.

This case is interesting for two reasons. Firstly because the client refused to accept what was delivered, even though the project team delivered exactly what had been agreed. Secondly because it concerns anyone who has been using computer software for some time and has decided, for whatever reason, that it is time for a change.

Many companies go through exactly the same processes. It could be a giant corporation that needs to decide when to upgrade to the latest version of its operating system. Or it could be a small company that has a word-processing package or Email software that seems to be out of date and so are considering a replacement. The decision process is the same: do they stay with their current supplier and ask them for the latest version or do they look at other alternatives? If they don't investigate competitor products, will they not be hit with "buyer's remorse"?


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