MillerCoors seeks $100M in damages from IT contractor

Brewer files lawsuit over SAP work

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MillerCoors is suing IT services firm HCL in federal court over what began as an approximately $53 million software deployment.

The work was for a new SAP system for integrating and sharing data across the enterprise, including accounting, sales, production, warehouse operations, distribution, security and human resources data. It required customization to address particular business needs.

HCL was hired to do the work, but the lawsuit alleges that the contractor failed to meet project deadlines and staff the project with a sufficient number of people.

The lawsuit, filed in federal court in Illinois, names HCL Technologies and its subsidiary, HCL America. It seeks "compensatory damages in an amount to be determined at trial in excess of $100,000,000." The lawsuit was filed March 13.

The beer maker's IT project "was aimed at driving efficiencies, innovation and growth across MillerCoors' various breweries by adopting a common set of best practices business processes and implementing them in a new enterprise SAP software solution," according to the lawsuit.

MillerCoors said that customizing the various SAP modules to address business needs "is a complex undertaking and MillerCoors was looking for an experienced SAP consulting firm to manage and implement SAP for MillerCoors."

A request for proposals was issued in late 2013 and HCL was the successful bidder.

The lawsuit says an additional $9.6 million was added to the contract price to adjust for time frames, but "HCL was unable to adequately staff the project and maintain the project schedule." It also alleged defects in the software. In June, MillerCoors sent HCL a notice of termination and plans to secure a new supplier.

An HCL spokesperson could not be immediately reached for comment.

Enterprise resource planning projects often run into trouble. A report and survey by Panorama Consulting, an ERP advisory firm, looked at ERP implementation outcomes in 2015 and found that 21 percent of companies surveyed considered theirs a failure, 58 percent a success and the balance was either neutral or they didn't know.

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