Accusations flying in SAP-Waste Management suit

Deloitte Consulting also caught up as a third party in lawsuit over an unsatisfactory ERP implementation

The lawsuit filed by Waste Management against SAP in March over what the trash-disposal company claims was a botched ERP implementation is growing increasingly rancorous, with accusations of withheld information and deliberate foot-dragging.

In addition, the systems integrator Deloitte Consulting has become caught up in the suit, though not as an official party.

[ See earlier developments in this story: "Waste Management sues SAP over ERP implementation" and "Update: SAP files counterclaim against Waste Management" ]

In a filing in Harris County, Texas District Court earlier this month, SAP asked the court to delay the trial until February 2010 due to the complexity of the case. The vendor also alleges Waste Management has not behaved in good faith during the discovery process.

"Rather than focusing on producing the most relevant documents first, Waste Management appears to have taken the opposite approach," SAP said.

While Waste Management's production "has been voluminous, most of those documents -- such as customer invoices, office building sign-in sheets, and customer addresses -- relate generally to its business operations and not specifically to the purchase or implementation of the software at issue in this suit."

SAP also wants the court to delay the depositions of a number of SAP employees.

"The only possible explanation for Waste Management's refusal to produce the documents on which it intends to rely at the depositions -- or, for that matter, for seeking to depose key witnesses before producing its own documents -- is that it hopes to 'surprise' SAP's witnesses with documents they have never seen, or have not seen in years and have long forgotten," the filing alleges.

Meanwhile, SAP has produced "hundreds of thousands of pages of documents, including e-mails and what Defendants believe are most of the critical documents," SAP said.

But a response filed by Waste Management states "SAP has sought to delay the case at every turn," and that trial should begin in April 2009.

"These types of lawsuits, arising from defective software and failed implementation, are routine for SAP," Waste Management said. "There are standard motions it files and it uses the same types of expert witnesses. ... There is no reason the case cannot be discovered and tried in 2009."

SAP's assertions regarding Waste Management's conduct during discovery are "baseless," the filing adds. "Waste Management has made 10 separate productions of 'substantive' information to SAP totaling 947,304 pages (compared to SAP's production of approximately 308,000 pages)."

The documents include issue and resolution logs "addressing specific issues with the programming, conversion and implementation of SAP Waste & Recycling software," the filing states.

SAP has also "refused to present witnesses for deposition, has failed to substantively answer interrogatories, and has lodged boilerplate objections to discovery that it refuses to withdraw," Waste Management said.

Therefore, "it is important for Waste Management to start depositions to determine what SAP refuses [to] disclose and determine what discovery SAP is not providing," the filing adds.

SAP previously filed a counterclaim to Waste Management's suit arguing in part that the trash-disposal company violated its deal with SAP including by "failing to timely and accurately define its business requirements" and not providing "sufficient, knowledgeable, decision-empowered users and managers" to work on the project.

Apparently in support of this line of argument, another recent filing shows that SAP has subpoenaed Deloitte, asking the company to provide all documentation tied to work Deloitte performed for Waste Management regarding the licensing and implementation of a range of SAP software, as well as "any analyses or other work performed by Deloitte concerning Waste Management's business processes."

Waste Management's internal name for the SAP implementation project was "C1" or "Customer First," and the company hired Deloitte to perform an independent review after a site in New Mexico went live, according to the filing.

Deloitte allegedly told Waste Management that "the original Blueprint workshops were ineffective at capturing the business requirements for the WM solution" and that "as a result, after the workshops the Blueprint design was allowed to constantly change as the teams' understanding of the functionality evolved."

"To the extent Waste Management believes [SAP's] software was a failure, the blame lies with Waste Management," the filing adds.

Waste Management argues that SAP's subpoena is worded too broadly. "To the extent that Deloitte's work at Waste Management is not part of the SAP implementation project, plaintiffs object that the request is an improper fishing expedition."

Waste Management and Deloitte declined additional comment on Friday.

SAP spokesman Andy Kendzie said the company does not discuss ongoing litigation. "I would say that beyond that, we will vigorously defend our brand and reputation during the litigation process," he added.

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