Risk Management

4 IT Lessons Learned from Target Canada’s Failure

Target Canada’s failure has gained a lot of attention because of the cautionary tale it illustrates. The Target story is ultimately one that explains the demise resulting from rushed IT projects. In an article for ITBusiness.ca, Brian Jackson connects the dots on a few points of interest that serve as warnings for businesses.


Joe Castaldo wrote the expose that analyzed the failure of Target in Canada. In his breakdown of events, he analyzed discussions he had with over 30 different Target employees. Target aggressively sought to open 124 locations in Canada by the end of 2013. One problem with this resided with the IT department: Target sought to implement an ERP system, despite never having any experience with it.

There are four lessons that can be learned from Target’s blunder:

  1. Do not rush.
  2. Use pilot tests.
  3. Metrics need to reflect reality.
  4. Jargon can be costly.

Rather than use the same supply chain software it uses in the U.S., Target decided to implement an SAP solution. This meant that all of the item data had to be entered manually, and ultimately, accuracy took a huge hit. The lesson here is that even properly executed new software systems need time, and employees need adequate training to fully reap the benefits.

Target’s point-of-sales (POS) system terribly malfunctioned. For example, their self-checkouts often gave the wrong change. POS systems need to be piloted first and tested so any problems can be weeded out beforehand.

Percentage of items in stock was used as the measure of how business analysts were doing. The problem was that these analysts turned off their auto-replenishment system so that on paper, it always appeared as though the stock was high. Metrics should be reflecting what is actually happening or they are just a waste of time.

Target experienced a huge misunderstanding with vendors. Target understood that their “in-DC date” would mean that the product would arrive at its distribution centers on that date, while the vendors believed the date indicated when they should ship items. Jargon should be made explicitly clear to all parties involved to avoid misunderstandings.

You can read the original article here: http://www.itbusiness.ca/news/4-it-lessons-learned-from-target-canadas-failure-as-documented-by-canadian-business/64199

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