The operation was a success but the patient died…

In other contexts, it may be valid to suggest that “the operation was a success but the patient died.” Not in this context. It may be amusing to hear someone say that their new ERP system is a great success but the implementation project was a mess. It is neither amusing nor meaningful in any way to assert that an ERP project succeeded but the resulting system is a mess. Things like that do get said, and people who say them should be required to explain what they really mean. And what they really mean is usually something like, “It’s all wrong. But it wasn’t our fault.” If that has to be said, there are better ways to say it.

We have made an assumption that we wish to state explicitly. We speak of success for evaluating, acquiring, implementing, or upgrading business software as being equivalent to a project’s success. We mean that absolutely. Please take it for granted that, when we speak of project success or failure, it ultimately means system success or failure as well, and vice versa. There is no such thing as a successful project that results in a failed system.

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