Midsouth Chamber of Commerce

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Midsouth Chamber of Commerce (MSCC), a non-profit member supported organization that lobbies state government for local businesses, needed to update its IBM AS/400 based UNITRAK system to a more advanced structure to meet the growing demands of employees and members. Dick Gramen, a former computer trainer for an insurance broker, who had no experience with the AS/400 computer or the UNITRAK software, was hired for the job. After struggling to learn the previous hardware, software, data structure and organization operations, he urged MSCC's executive committee to purchase the IBM RS/6000 computer system (a system he was familiar with) to enhance MSCC's computing capabilities. Despite Leon Lassiter’s (vice president of marketing) admonition, the executive committee unhesitatingly granted Gramen's request. Shortly thereafter, Gramen accepted a contract with the inapt and inexperienced vendor, Data Management Associates (DMA) to develop the software and convert the UNITRAK database into the new system. Gramen did not review the contract in great detail and sent it to MSCC president, Jack Wallingford for approval. Even worse, Wallingford, without having any outside specialist or corporate counsel to review the document, blindly signed the contract. The contract later revealed no explicit or quantifiable performance standards for the services to be provided, and that DMA only offered a certain number of free development hours for the creation of the software. Moreover, DMA had the right to increase the price of services and products provided at its discretion, while limiting its financial and performance liabilities. Not surprisingly, DMA encountered a myriad of problems from the moment of implementation. And as difficulties with the software conversion mounted, DMA quickly used up the development hours, and started billing the MSCC for the work beyond the free hours guaranteed. Consequently, the relationship between DMA and the MSCC declined. The software...
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