Whaley was responsible for all system testing, although Epicor would provide testing plans and advice when necessary, according to the document.
The original estimate called for "a standard configuration of all modules for one test and production BackOffice Company [database] only," the contract adds. If more company databases were required, it would be up to Whaley to "configure them appropriately."
Another section details various customizations and tweaks that Whaley wanted made to the system.
Epicor promised that the costs would not exceed the estimate by more than 10 percent, "except for any modifications defined thereafter," the agreement states. "This approach ensures that both our organizations are highly motivated to complete the project as productively as possible."
However, the estimate "includes no contingencies for unknowns," it adds.
Other recent disputes over allegedly failed software projects include actions brought against Oracle by Montclair State University in New Jersey and against Infor by Paragon Medical. SAP and Deloitte Consulting have been embroiled for some time in a suit filed by the government of Marin County, Calif.
While it's difficult to determine who is at fault in the Whaley-Epicor case, there are some possible explanations for what happened, according to experts.
ERP projects commonly have cost overruns, but the alleged quintupling of Whaley's implementation expenses "is above normal," said analyst Ray Wang, CEO of Constellation Research.
If Whaley's allegations are true, it's possible that the implementation team "didn't have a clear understanding of the capabilities of the software versus what was mapped out, and could not execute," Wang said.
At the same time, the workflows and process maps provided may not have been detailed enough for Epicor to produce an accurate estimate, he said.
Overall, the project's woes are familiar music to Michael Krigsman, CEO of Asuret, a consulting firm that helps companies with IT projects.
"Holy mother of God, here we go again," Krigsman said. "When will customers and vendors learn to manage their expectations more thoroughly?"
"The big takeaway here is the absolute importance of defining requirements accurately up front and carefully managing the expectations between the customer and the vendor," he said.