Academic journal article Management Dynamics

When a Sure Thing Goes Awry: Implementing an Enterprise System at IST Ltd

Academic journal article Management Dynamics

When a Sure Thing Goes Awry: Implementing an Enterprise System at IST Ltd

Article excerpt

ABSTRACT

An Enterprise System (ES) is a type of information technology system that integrates all necessary business functions in an organisation into a single integrated system with a single shared database. Despite the widespread takeup of ES systems, they are notoriously difficult to implement. There are, as a result, any number of prescriptions in the literature for a successful ES implementation. The question that remains, however, is why projects continue to be mismanaged, when the risk factors are well-documented, and the technology itself should, after 15-20 years of practice, be maturing.

The answer, according to some researchers, lies not only in the content of the software or even the project management process, but rather in the context in which the proj ect takes place. In order to explore the notion that context may affect an ES implementation, this study discusses a case in which contextual issues were critical. The research question guiding the case study is therefore "How, if at all, did the context of this particular company affect the implementation of the ES?" The case in question is that of a small-capitalisation South African company facing ongoing and emerging organisational complexity.

The case history is provided in some detail, followed by a discussion which links the case to the literature in order to provide specific lessons for managers who may be considering, or be involved in, an ES implementation. The lessons that emerge are that the context may affect the evaluation process, the timing of the implementation, and the user acceptance of the system. Interpreting how the specific organisational context might affect a proj ect in any particular situation, and managing project risk appropriately, is the essential management task of an ES implementation.

INTRODUCTION

The implementation of an Enterprise System (ES) is known to be a challenging endeavour. Very often it is undertaken with the intention of improving integration, coordination and control in an organisation. This study describes a case where the attempt to improve coordination and control required an extended and expensive implementation effort. This is typical of what often happens in ES implementation, and probably resonates with the experiences of managers about to undertake, or in the middle of, an ES implementation. As such, the case and the discussion should be of interest and assistance to managers of ES projects.

The study is structured as follows: It starts with a brief discussion of Enterprise Systems (ES) and their implementation, followed by a short justification for the use of the case and some details of the research methodology employed. The case history is presented followed by a discussion which links the case to the literature in order to offer specific lessons for managers who may be considering, or be involved in, an ES implementation. A short glossary of technical terms which may be of assistance to non-IT managers is provided.

AN ENTERPRISE SYSTEM AND ITS IMPLEMENTATION

An Enterprise System, also known as an Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) system, is a type of information technology (IT) system that integrates all necessary business functions in an organisation (for example, finance, manufacturing, human resources, distribution and order management) into a single integrated system with a single shared database (Gordon-Brown and Whittaker, 2002) . Such systems can be contrasted with stand-alone systems that service various functional areas independently. An ES brings all functional areas into a single system in order to solve the problems of fragmentation of information within large organisations. At the core of an ES is the database that collects data from, and feeds data to, a variety of modular applications that support virtually all of an organisation's business activities. This means that when new information is entered at one point, related information is updated automatically throughout the whole system. …

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

Oops!

An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.