Part 1: The Project
This case study is a true experience. A manufacturing company with a small head office and branches around the country had been using the same order-entry system software for about five years. The users were generally comfortable with the system and a decision was therefore taken to up-grade it to the latest software version from its service provider. For reasons of anonymity, the company will be referred to as the "Client", while the service provider (i.e. the vendor) as the "SP".
However, the Client made the decision to upgrade without looking at any alternative. The project proceeded routinely until the Client suddenly seemed to think that the upgraded product was hardly different from the original, and that it had made a mistake. Perhaps this was because the scope was more complicated and perhaps difficult to understand and define.
Background to Software and Upgrades
Typically, a company buys a computer system but after a period of time it becomes out of date and the company is then faced with a dilemma. Should it get a newer version of its current system or buy a completely different one? A different system means a new supplier, new functionality and training for all the users. In addition, all the information has to be taken off the old system and put onto the new one. This introduces risks such as making sure that all the information that has been captured over the past few years gets accurately stored in the new system.
Superficially it would seem that the better option is to stay with the current system and vendor. The company can then carry on using the old, tried and trusted software. Not so old, however, as it is now a newer version with problems ironed out as well as additional features. It is generally easier to upgrade because none of the challenges of the new and unknown are encountered and this means the company can focus on its core business instead of worrying about a new computer system.
The above thought-process was followed in the case of this particular project.