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Intranet project fizzles: Constellation sues firm over $500,000 project

Rochester Business Journal
May 30, 2014

With 4,000 employees spread among 40 locations in the United States, Canada, Mexico and New Zealand, Constellation Brands Inc. needs a smoothly functioning intranet.

A yearlong attempt to install a functioning internal communications network proved to be pretty much a disaster for the Ontario County-based global wine, spirits and beer purveyor, Constellation Brands claims in a lawsuit.

The lawsuit, filed May 20 in U.S. District Court in Rochester, targets Keste LLC of Plano, Texas, a software firm that Constellation Brands hired in 2013 to de-sign and install an intranet.

“There were fundamental issues regarding the functionality and usability of the website and the adequacy of Keste’s performance,” the complaint claims.

Citing a company policy against commenting on pending litigation, Constellation Brands spokeswoman Cheryl Gossin declined to elaborate on the filing.

“It is important to note that we continue to maintain and use employee intranet sites that were operating before the issues highlighted in this lawsuit,” Gossin said in an email.

Keste officials did not respond to email and telephone queries.

According to the lawsuit, the companies signed an agreement in February 2013 calling for the software firm to design and build a system “under which Constellation personnel could regularly create and update content to be displayed on the intranet,” allowing “other Constellation users around the world to access that content easily and efficiently.”

What it got instead, Constellation Brands alleges, was a bug-prone system that did not work from day one and never improved despite Keste’s efforts. Some content could be added only with a 50-step, 80-minute operation, the complaint says.

Despite a year of attempts by the software firm, Constellation Brands claims, the intranet remained unusable and turned out to be a half-million-dollar boondoggle.

From the global intranet project’s start in March 2013 until February, when Constellation Brands claims it learned from a third-party expert that the project could not be salvaged, the court papers lay out a tale of woe.

“From the earliest stages of the project, including Web-based demonstrations of the website by Keste personnel, Constellation repeatedly expressed concerns to Keste about the functionality and performance of the Keste-designed site,” the complaint states.

Despite the software firm’s repeated assurances that it had the know-how to fix the system’s bugs, problems persisted, the filing adds.

In selling itself to Constellation Brands, the suit states, Keste billed itself as an Oracle Premium Partner having special expertise and project experience with Oracle Corp.’s applications, technology and hardware.

But after Constellation Brands called in Oracle in a final attempt to salvage the project, the complaint states, the Oracle experts reported last February “that it was not feasible to attempt to fix the … damage that Keste had created.”

In the filing, Constellation Brands asks to recover approximately $500,000 spent on the system as well as additional damages in an unstated amount plus court costs and attorney fees.

5/30/14 (c) 2014 Rochester Business Journal. To obtain permission to reprint this article, call 585-546-8303 or email service@rbj.net.




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