back to article UK insurance biz Direct Line drops 'misrepresentation' claims against IBM in £36m database platform lawsuit

Direct Line has dropped its claims that IBM negligently misrepresented its ability to develop an insurance platform – though the UK insurer is continuing its £36m legal battle against the US tech giant for allegedly having "seriously underestimated the complexity" of a 2014 contract. In a case similar to one brought against …

  1. billat29

    One born every..

    I can stand up in front of my prospect and say, with absolute truth that my company has done something very much like what you are trying to do. I can demonstrate that we have people with the necessary skills and I will parade them in front of you.

    You will sign on the foolish presumption that any of those technical titans will go anywhere near your project. In fact they will be working on more valuable accounts and helping me make the next sale.

    You will just get the people that are available at the time and they are available because...

    1. Zippy´s Sausage Factory

      Re: One born every..

      That actually happened to me on a project. We put in the tender that they would guarantee the people working on the project would be the ones we met in the pitch. When reminded of that, they suddenly turned very evasive...

      They didn't get it. Bullet dodged, I think.

      1. amanfromMars 1 Silver badge

        Re: One born every..

        They didn't get it. Bullet dodged, I think. ..... Zippy´s Sausage Factory

        Oh? You think so? And here's more than just a chosen few here tinkering and thinking it's just as a really simple improvised explosive device lodged and primed for ACTion ..... NEUKlearer HyperRadioProACTive IT.

        And that raises the question ...... Are/Were IBM aware of the Extreme Dangers they appear to have accepted and been contracted to help maintain and mitigate with the aforementioned engaging third parties?

    2. RM Myers

      Re: One born every..

      Wait, you work for xxxx* and you had a contract to install an Oracle (Peoplesoft) general ledger application for a very large insurance company in the United States! Or else you work for yyyy* and you had a project to install a Teradata finance data warehouse for that same large insurance company!

      Yep, I sure remember you guys. Too bad we could never convince finance management that what you saw was not what you were going to get. On the plus side, at least a number of recent college grads got to learn something about insurance. Too bad they didn't learn it until the projects were basically over.

      * xxxx and yyyy were two former "big 8" accounting firms who had branched into providing application development. Names withheld to protect the guilty.

  2. cbars


    You *never* know the full requirements up front, but that doesn't mean a full table scan or union in a join cant be designed out. That article is a litany of pure incompetence.

    The position that they shouldn't have any responsibility for performance prior to official testing is a joke! The tests are there to confirm its fine, not provide requirements, its too late at that point!

    Imagine having to tell your plumber the exact angles of all the pipes you want him to connect, and specify you do in fact want water to come out so a 1mm diameter won't be enough....

    Mealy mouthed bastards

  3. Neil Barnes Silver badge

    One wonders if

    you can get something like business interruption insurance, or consequential loss insurance, against such happenings.

    1. RegGuy1 Silver badge

      Re: One wonders if

      Is that something Direct Line sells?

  4. Joe Harrison

    I suppose this means my car premiums are going up ☹

    As per title

    1. georget

      Re: I suppose this means my car premiums are going up ☹

      Dont you mean, thats the reason why they have been so high for years?

  5. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Direct Line didn’t do their side of the work

    (Posted anon as I know some of the folks involved).

    As Direct Line never bothered to produce specs for what data was to be mapped where, and what they expected the system to do for them, then the import process generated huge log files reporting data it couldn’t map.

    That was the reason it was slow.

    1. Warm Braw Silver badge

      Re: Direct Line didn’t do their side of the work

      It's hardly unusual that prospective clients don't have exhaustive documentation for their existing systems. It's always wise to sanity check the brief at an early point in the development - for example by processing a representative sample of existing data to check its conformity and ensuring you schedule your coding so this is possible. Whether it's legally necessary, the court will decide, but if you get to a position in which you've spent a fortune on development effort but find you can't actually process your client's data, noone is going to come out smelling of roses.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Direct Line didn’t do their side of the work

        As I understand it, IBM knew that the data needed mapping, and repeatedly asked DL what mappings they wanted/needed. While waiting for a response they set things up as best they could, but no answer was ever forthcoming.

        It’s not a case of lack of exhaustive documentation, it’s a case of DL never bothering to put any effort into identifying what they had and where that should go in the new system.

        The other point that wasn’t mentioned was that IBM weren’t the sole contractor, DL appointed other companies to manage bits of the process. Not an environment conducive to success to start with.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Direct Line didn’t do their side of the work

          "It’s not a case of lack of exhaustive documentation, it’s a case of DL never bothering to put any effort into identifying what they had and where that should go in the new system."

          So what data did IBM and its agents use to build the system against? Pointing to the lack of exhaustive documentation on DL's side may suggest fault on DL's side but pretending that it isn't an issue on IBM's side while continuing to blow through the clients money borders on fraud. And both cases can be true.

          However, IBM have very good lawyers who have extracated themselves from such issues in the past.

  6. Pascal Monett Silver badge

    Project management failure

    It seems obvious to me that this is not really a coding issue, this is a project management issue.

    Client is complaining about some things where the supplier is saying they weren't at that stage yet. IBM use to have very competent project managers - I guess IBM has lightened its payroll a bit too much. That being said, IBM does have experience in managing projects, I'm not so sure the client does.

    In any case, this is one more project that got out of hand because somebody wasn't doing his job managing the various aspects of the project.

    It's even possible that it happened on both sides.

  7. Brewster's Angle Grinder Silver badge

    People complain about the government being unable to make IT projects work, let alone deliver them on time and to budget, but here we have another example of the private sector proving it's every bit the public sector's equal when it comes to screwing up IT.

    1. SuperGeek

      Look at..

      Post Office, for example? Mismanagement and denial through and through

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Look at..

        Yeah, and there we are still waiting for custodial sentences to be handed out.

        Quickly please, before the buggers die off.

  8. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Database design, and ethics....

    This doesn't surprise me in the least...

    ...but as someone who heavily works in DBs , designing etc - I consider it an effective part of my role to carry out index clarification as I work. Never have I designed a table , thrown on default indexes for the PKs and thought to myself JOB DONE.

    You baseline it, you monitor performance, you track record growth.

    It's never done. You preplan if you need to partition it by year/month for example.

    But, the DL story is standard for a large consultancy result. They don't care, and the minions they parachute in don't care.

    Thats why I don't work for one, my ethics and pride in my work are incompatible.

  9. Dwarf Silver badge


    I've Been Mis-sold

  10. SJG

    things you don't know

    You can never design a data warehouse up front and then build it. By definition, you don't know the data well enough... the point of the warehouse us to explore and mine data you don't understand, and to run queries you don't know you need.

    The fault here lies with the underlying procurement approach which drove the waterfall development method. It should have been an agile project, delivering small increments of business value.

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