back to article American LaFrance blames IBM for bankruptcy

Emergency vehicle maker American LaFrance (ALF) has claimed that a bungled implementation of IBM software contributed to the demise of its business. The firm voluntarily filed for bankruptcy protection in the US district court of Delaware in Wilmington yesterday, in which it said that the installation of a new ERP system had …


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  1. Anonymous Coward

    Anyone using ClearCase & ClearQuest duo?

    The damage inflicted by incompetent programmers at IBM should not be a surprise.

  2. Walter Brown

    Its hard to say...

    This one could go either way, IBM could in fact be responsible, how ever its not likely, anyone who is familiar with the fire service in the US and especially with ALF knows that they're notorious for building crap fire apparatus.

    they've been lovingly named American La FixIt!

  3. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    and that's what you get when you go with the vendors that simply provide the largest number of executive meals and golf games.

    Our rather small company got done out of a large contract for a huge utility company by a large german database vendor. Several years ago.

    That large german company is yet to deliver its product, and the project is apparently hugely over budget and nowhere near completion.

    Shame, crying shame.

  4. Fozzy


    Anyone that was had dealings with IBM before know how well they document everything, including impromptu phone calls. unless they had an inexperienced project manager on this job I would be very surprised that IBM are at fault on this. Oh well live and learn

  5. heystoopid

    Old Old story

    Old old story , IBM were involved in an identical shambles back in the sixties with an auto parts supplier !

    The then state of the art IBM inventory and accounting system was riddled with numerous assorted errors and bugs that had to been seen to be believed ! Nice to see the next generation management have totally ignored past history to repeat the same god awful mistakes and errors yet again ! What a bunch of clowns is a polite expression !

    Oh well life and history still revolve around the same circles , let their incompetence continue unabated until they get it right in a couple of centuries maybe ?!

  6. Bronek Kozicki

    Another waterfall victim

    I bet ALF was not able to express its requirements clearly, but instead of adopting agile approach, waterfall was selected. Which means they were virtually unable to steer the development/deployment as they learned what they actually need. False analogy of software to construction killed yet another project, and one business with it. I suppose we will have to wait fo fatalities before waterfall (and stupid managers promoting it) becomes thing of past.

  7. Spleen
    Paris Hilton

    I smell sour grapes

    IBM sell a lot of systems to a lot of companies. Some of them are bound to go into bankruptcy, as companies do. And everyone likes to blame anything but themselves. I fail to see how one company going under and trying to find a scapegoat is news unless it's part of a trend.

    Paris Hilton angle because like ALF, she probably knows a thing or two about servicing men in uniform. I'm not sure how unfulfilled her backlog is though.

  8. LPF
    Thumb Down

    To Bronek

    Sorry but that's complete and utter garbage. No matter what methodology you employee, if both side do not have the right people and resources to make it work, then whether waterfall or new buzzword of the week methodology, the project will

    most likely fail!

  9. Anonymous Coward
    Paris Hilton

    What is wrong with ClearCase and ClearQuest ?

    If you do not know how to set them up and configure, it is your problem. People who complain on CC an CQ are incompetent and need a bit of rational (pun intended) thinking installed.

    Can you find anything else apart from Rational Suite on the market with that sort of integration for software development ?

    PH angle: Because I Can

  10. Markie Dussard


    I'm with LPF on this.

    Waterfall vs. Agile is a completely false dichotomy, repeatedly squealed by the true believer in an attempt to drown out reasoned objections by experienced developers. There are other ways to develop software outwith a Waterfall approach that do not involve the faith-based wishful thinking that constitutes the Agile Manifesto.

    Not being able to express your requirements correctly is not a monopolistic Waterfall characteristic. Far from it. Agile disciples would have you believe that they have found a way to gloss over the whole issue of requirements with no effort. Stupid managers who buy into that bull are destined to wind up on their knees praying to a different God to save their jobs somewhere down the line.

  11. Anonymous Coward

    ClearCase and ClearQuest?

    You ask what is wrong with them, Mr Anonymous?

    Apart from them being overpriced resource-hungry bloatware megaliths that require careful nursing by white-coated gurus to get through the day?

    I can assure you we know exactly how to set up and configure them both - and if you are looking for "incompetent", may I redirect you to IBM Rational "technical support", with whom we have enjoyed many hilarious hours of joshing about the hideous bugs in their systems, some of which span several years.

    I'd be the first to agree that the original ClearCase idea was really a good one. When it's working well (and if you can afford a nice server and a lot of LAN bandwidth) it is still a nice system, with some lovely features that I enjoy using. But years of IBM Rational corporate lard have distorted the original concept beyond all recognition.

    As for ClearQuest, what does it do that hasn't already been done by countless other bug reporting systems, apart from link to ClearCase? At the end of the day it's just a blob of SQL, that's all.

    No, I'd say the word you are looking for to describe people who complain about ClearCase and ClearQuest isn't "incompetent". It's "customer".

  12. Ian Michael Gumby

    Geez some of your comments take the cake.

    Blame the customer and not IBM?

    First, how do you do "agile" development in an implementation? Or waterfall for that matter. (Ok, so you implement and then fine tune the implementation as needed.) Agile is a software development model, not an implementation model. You're configuring and not creating....

    But you're missing the picture.

    During the implementation process, the worker bee has to ask questions and understand the customer's business.

    When you go to the cheapest source of labor, do you think that they're going to ask questions or know the product that they're implementing inside and out?

    Sorry, but even if mistakes were made by the customer, IBM's really to blame.

    (You have to know IBM and IGS to grok that.)

    Don't know where the suit will end though. Would have to see the contracts and what the customer agreed to. Scope change, wiggle room and all of those things.

  13. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Re: Geez some of your comments take the cake.

    "During the implementation process, the worker bee has to ask questions and understand the customer's business."

    That assumes your point-of contact within the customer company understands their own business. If your contact at the customer doesn't have a clue, and you're not allowed to talk to anyone who does have a clue, you're in trouble.

  14. User

    IBM is pretty good...

    If you have to go back to the 60ies to find a parallel example.

  15. tony trolle
    IT Angle


    From the company website:"The Company is filing this petition" Chapter 11 of the U.S. bankruptcy code "in part due to circumstances which resulted from inventory not properly disclosed as obsolete when ALF acquired its business in December 2005."

    BTW the market for emergency vehicles is down as a whole.

  16. Hot Wrench

    no surprises

    Freightliner bought up the ALF brand which had been defunct since the early 70's, resurrected it, then went on a rampage to buy out the competition. Closed the newly aquired buyouts, moved all of their production to the Carolina's, then sold it when it started to go downhill because of shoddy quality, a mistreated dealer network, and little to no factory support of the final product.

    The investment firm who purchased ALF had little knowledge of this industry, overspent on speculation, and ultimately choked itself to death. They never stood a chance at success.

    The Big Blue angle is a diversion.

    BTW, the man in charge during the Freightliner downward spiral is the same guy who found investors to purchase another well known fire apparatus builder, Seagrave. He ran this one into the ground as well. No hard feelings, though, he once bought me a drink.

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