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Patterns in IT systems failure lawsuits

December 3, 2007 0 Comments

Several years ago, while working at PricewaterhouseCoopers, I reviewed documents and information that we had gathered regarding roughly 120 “IT systems failure” lawsuits, that is, lawsuits regarding a dispute over a two- or three-party IT systems development project. The fact pattern surrounding each case tended to fall into one or two of six major patterns:

I described these patterns in some detail in a white paper I wrote and that PricewaterhouseCoopers published on their global website for several years. You can download the original paper here: Patterns in IT Litigation: Systems Failure (1976-2000) [PDF]. However, I have posted a series of slightly revised extracts from the paper here on this website, starting with this introductory material, followed by the patterns themselves (links above), and ending with this section on lessons learned.

I will note that I have found other patterns as well, largely from my direct work in IT systems failure litigation. For example, one that shows up repeatedly in my litigation work is the Lost Champion/Buyer’s Remorse pattern. Patterns such as these didn’t show up in my initial research because the documents I reviewed for the original 120 cases didn’t have the type of information and level of detail necessary for these patterns to emerge.

About the Author:

Webster is Principal and Founder at at Bruce F. Webster & Associates, as well as an Adjunct Professor for the BYU Computer Science Department. He works with organizations to help them with troubled or failed information technology (IT) projects. He has also worked in several dozen legal cases as a consultant and as a testifying expert, both in the United States and Japan. He can be reached at 303.502.4141 or at

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