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Copyright GSG, 1996-2009

MFG, Inc. vs. DEVELOP, Inc.

MFG, Inc. and Develop, Inc. are fictitious names chosen to disguise the identities of the parties in this case history from the files of General Systems Group.

General Systems Group (GSG) was retained by Develop, Inc. to provide expert opinion in a contract dispute. Under contract, Develop, Inc., a reputable software house had designed, implemented, and installed an order entry system for MFG, Inc., to be run on suitable business computers. MFG, a manufacturer of consumer apparel goods, contended in the dispute, that the software in question exhibited inadequate performance. In particular, they claimed that the computer's response to the clerical operators entering customers' orders was much too slow, and they blamed Develop, Inc. for the poor response time.

Once retained by the Develop, Inc. legal team, GSG set about discovering the facts in two ways. The first task was to analyze technical reports and depositions, from technical personnel of the two firms, who had been involved in the original contract negotiations and subsequent development work. The second task was to formulate a mathematical model of the performance of the computing system.

Task 1: Analysis

The analysis of reports and depositions was aimed at determining when project decisions were made (the sequence), and how they affected the resulting system performance. GSG also reviewed and summarized all studies and technical reports made during the life of the project relating to system performance. This analysis allowed us to arrive at a complete and accurate description of all the hardware and software composing the delivered order processing system.

Task 2: Synthesis

Using the technical information gleaned during our analysis, we were able to formulate a model to predict the system's performance. The model characterized the way the various hardware and software components interacted with one another to determine the overall system performance.

In the process of this modeling we discovered that the major factor responsible for the response lag at the heart of the dispute was a specific hardware vendor's software package selected as the foundation of the applications software produced by Develop, Inc. for MFG, Inc. Because of an error in its design, the vendor's software component created a serious system choke point. GSG was able to prove that the choke point was the single cause of the poor performance of the delivered system. Our previous analysis of all relevant reports enabled us to piece together the discovery documentation to show that the decision to use this specific software component had been made by the MFG managers, over the objections of the Develop, Inc. managers, establishing therefore that Develop, Inc. had not been responsible for the poor performance of the system.

The information and conclusions we were able to ferret out of this very complex technical situation led MFG to drop its suit against our client, Develop, Inc.





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