Talk, don't fight, Australian IT companies warned

The government and industry groups have teamed up in a project designed to cut the amount of disputes that end in litigation in Australia's ICT industry.

The government and industry groups have teamed up in a project designed to reduce the amount of disputes that end in litigation within Australia's ICT industry.

The Institute of Arbitrators and Mediators Australia (IAMA), the Australian Computer Society and the Project Management Institute today released a report advocating the IT industry consider alternative dispute resolution in order to cut the "very high number of contract related disputes" bugging the technology world.

According to the report -- which surveyed over 400 organisations -- 46 percent of contracts ended in a dispute, with the majority relating to project management issues.

The report found that most of the disputes cost between AU$50,000 and AU$500,000 to resolve.

Speaking today in Sydney, report author Anthony Grieve of the IAMA said of the number of disputes: "That's a matter of concern, it should be a lot lower ... the majority of respondents did not have formal dispute avoidance procedures in place and again that's a worry in a sunrise industry like technology."

The report advocates the IT industry adopt alternative dispute resolution procedures to avoid matters ending up in court. Disputes which are resolved without legal proceedings are perceived as fairer, more effective, cheaper and faster, it added.

Government agencies were found to be some of the most dispute-prone IT users, with some initiatives going over budget by up to tens of millions of dollars as a result.

Speaking at the launch of the report, Communications Minister Helen Coonan said that as a procurer of AU$3.3 billion in IT services, the government is aware of how disputes can affect enterprises.

"We all know if you're involved in litigation for the long term, the corrosive effect that can have on a business ... it simply takes everyone's eye off the ball."

"I think we might learn a bit about how to use a bit of alternative dispute resolution with Telstra," Coonan joked.