When Delay Gets Nasty – Micro Mediation

Project delay is an inevitable part of IT implementations. Requirements change, technology moves along, the government implements some new nonsense; the list goes on. The question, therefore, is not “how do I avoid delay altogether?” It is “how can I properly manage the inevitable delays which will affect my project?”

This simple answer is to start at the beginning and enter the project with open eyes. It is all too often the case that notions of delay and disputes are passed over at the start of a project because the parties are either starry-eyed at the prospect of a new and exciting venture, or worried that such thoughts will inspire a lack of confidence in the solution.

This is a critical point of failure. Parties should, of course, attempt to understand as much as possible as early as possible but obviously it is not realistic to account for every detail, especially for IT implementations which are prone to change. However, it is especially important to get things like contractual dispute and mediation clauses right from the start because if you wait until you are in dispute, it will likely be too late to agree on how to deal with that dispute.

Changes, delays and mismatched expectations are all relatively normal in IT projects, and they can all be dealt with by way of adequate contractual mechanisms. Unfortunately parties often get entrenched in positions that have not been properly defined by the contract and the exercise becomes one of finger pointing rather than actively trying to solve the problem.

This is where mediation can pay dividends. Whether key relationships have broken down or whether the contract has simply failed to account for a specific circumstance, mediation can allow the parties to come together in a neutral setting from which nothing can ever be taken or used (including in court) unless it is specifically agreed by both parties. If a specialist mediator, or one who has been kept up to date throughout the life of the project, can be found then that’s all the better, but ultimately it is the process which is key.