A key reason your company’s project failed.

In the late seventies and eighties I was the co-owner of a software and hardware distributorship. Our success during that time was as a software solution provider selling software business system solutions to manufacturing and distribution companies. In the seventies and even into the late eighties on-line, real time and totally interactive data processing was still in its infancy. To protect our company from a prospective customers undocumented or unexpressed expectations, and their lawyers, we had to insist a prospective customer understood what they bought. So we developed what we called, at that time, “a software system design sign-off.” It explained, page by page, the functionality of the software system they were about to purchase and implement. And an executive in the company had to initial each page to insure it was read.

The premise for requiring  a prospective customer to read and initial each page was based on a heating and air conditioning contractor we had sold who expected functionality in the software we were unaware of during the implementation process. When we asked for additional money to design and program those expectations his answer was “I’m a metal bender and not in the software business”. He felt we should have known his company required the missing functionality. Providing that missing functionality was expensive my company!

Projects fail when buyers expect sellers to know how their company operates and the project’s critical expectations.