As part of a recent Q&A roundtable for Corporate Disputes, IT Group experts Tony Sykes and Chris Raske were asked to discuss how they envisage the technology disputes space to evolve over the next 12 months and what particular trends and developments could impact the process of resolving disputes. Here is what they had to say.
To access the full Q&A report click here.
Sykes: Traditional large IT disputes tended to fall into two categories: design disasters and data mishandling. Designs were typically delivered by the traditional ‘waterfall’ method based on the client defining every requirement of the system and the supplier developing specifications to realise a system that met all those requirements. The flash points in this approach include missed or evolving requirements leading to change, change control, cost overruns and delay. Data mishandling typically takes two forms, poorly migrated data and data presentation issues. The former is usually the fault of the client and the latter the fault of the supplier. Both manifest themselves as poor user experience because either the system has high numbers of data errors or the new system disappoints because data isn’t presented in a user friendly way. Alternative and now well established IT contract methodologies include a more agile approach to design and implementation. These approaches mean projects start with a small step known as a sprint to deliver a user story – a small part of the overall project. This approach has many advantages managing expectation and offering early assessment of progress and likely success. However, from a dispute perspective, having no overall requirements definition, limited change control and less clarity on cost and effort to complete, the process of assessing alleged failure, constructing Particulars of Claim and providing expert assistance all change and in some respects become more challenging. There is definitely much more agile software development now than in previous years and this is changing the way disputes are assessed and progressed.
Raske: From a technology perspective, the most interesting trends are being set by creators of commercial products. Apple’s feud with the FBI is laying the groundwork for the future of privacy law in America, but there are also things like Google’s self-driving car, which could be commercially available as early as 2017. This alone could fundamentally alter nearly every industry by changing the way we transport goods, services and people, and it will be interesting to see what new challenges this brings. Whether it will have any effect in the next 12 months isn’t clear, but I suspect we will at some point see a number of companies attempting to scrap ongoing transport projects in favour of the new technology, and therefore we will see a corresponding rise in technology disputes.