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Rising trends in disputes
Dr Ang also believes that the number of disputes between
companies will increase as outsourcing becomes a more popular
option for many corporations.
The study she conducted together with Koh shows that most
clients will complain about vendors with in the areas of maintenance
and expectations, but fail to fulfill their own
"We find that the clients have undue expectations of
vendors," said Dr Ang, who has conducted various research
projects on outsourcing. "Clients don't know what they are
getting. They don't realize that the end product needs to be evolved."
Parties also forget to contract 'soft-deliveries', like
manuals or documentation for products, she says.
Much of the issue is based on an Asian culture that would
rather pay more for the product, rather than the service,
she concurs. And though the mindset is rapidly changing, there
still needs to be a paradigm shift for the industry to realize
that service costs.
Mediation: the first choice
"It is more pragmatic, (and) cost
effective, to try to settle the process amicably than to bring it
to court," said Phang, who also serves as a district judge,
and is a member of SITDRAC.
"Very often, it's the nitty-gritty,"
said Phang, referring to the mediation process. "Settle it -
yes. But on what terms?"
"It's the nitty-gritty. Settle it - yes.
- District Judge Phang Hsia Chung
Arbitration: the 2nd mechanism
Arbitration is a confidential
alternative of handling disputes, in which parties can get to
discuss the issues with a technical expert as an arbitrator,
said Ang, who is also a bilingual (English-Chinese) arbitrator.
Unlike court cases, in which a judge may be assigned who has
little knowledge of technical details pertaining to most IT
disputes, parties have the choice to agree on a neutral party to
hear their cases, said Ang.
Parties are also free to choose the 'rules' with which the
cases are judged, providing for more flexibility than the typical
Formed in August of 1997, SITDRAC was at first a joint
project by the National Computer Board (now Infocomm Development
Authority) and the Singapore Federation of Computer Industries,
on how IT disputes can be resolved in a non-confrontational
The project was eventually absorbed into the Singapore
Mediation Centre in 1997, and consists of representatives from
- Singapore IT Federation (SITF)
- Singapore Computer Society (SCS)
- IT Management Association (ITMA)
- Infocomm Development Authority (IDA)
- Singapore Mediation Centre (SMC)
- Singapore International Arbitration Centre (SIAC)
SITDRAC is an advisory committee set up under the IDA, SMC and
SIAC. Its objectives are:
To advise SMC and SIAC on matters relating to IT disputes; and
To monitor IT practises and issues, formulate policies and
educate users and providers on IT-related matters such as IT
Effective management of IT disputes will be available
at Comdex/Asia 2000, taking place from 5-7 April 2000, at the
Singapore International Convention and Exhibition Centre. It will
subsequently be available through Butterworths Asia. The retail
price of the book is S$60.