Document 170168

University of Nebraska-Lincoln
Lincoln, Nebraska 68588-0491
National Instruments
Austin, Texas 78759-3504
functionality provided by ERP.
The wave of ERP implementation reached a high point at
the tum of the century. Now, several years later, many of these
companies are faced with issues of maintenance and upgrade.
For example, their implementation may lack the functionality
provided by higher versions of the product or vendors may no
longer support their version of the product. In consequence, ERP
customers need to periodically upgrade their system. Research
on ERP upgrade is of the utmost importance because of its
impact on companies around the world that are undergoing this
major step or process in ERP maintenance. This impact can be
significant because upgrade is an iterative process that is
recurring throughout the life of an ERP implementation.
In particular, our study seeks to compare critical success
factors between ERP implementations and upgrades across
difFerent stages of each project. Although a large amount of
research has been done on the critical success factors of ERP
implementation projects, none has been done for upgrade
projects (21). More specifically, our study will examine the
importance of the critical success factors in the different stages
of both the ERP implementation and upgrade projects,
Seven categories of critical success factors were identified
from the ERP literature: (I) business plan and vision; (2) change
management; (3) communication; (4) ERP team composition,
skills and compensation; (5) management support and
championship; (6) project management; (7) system analysis,
selection and technical implementation. We conducted a case
study of two organizations thai had implemented and upgraded
ERP systems. We adopted Markus and Tanis' four-phase model
and compared the importance of these critical success factors
across the phases of ERP implementation and upgrade. The
importance of these factors across the phases of ERP
implementation and upgrade is very similar. 'Business Plan and
Vision' and 'Top Management Support and Championship" are
critical during the Chartering phase. *ERP Team Composition,
Skills and Compensation,' 'Project Management' and 'System
Analysis, Selection and Technical Implementation' are most
important during the Project phase. 'Change Manj^ement' and
'Communication' are very important during the Project and
Shakedown phases.
Keywords: Enterprise resource planning, implementation,
upgrade, maintenance, critical success factors.
In the past two decades, companies around the world have
implemented Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) Systems.
ERP systems are software packages that enable companies to
integrate their business processes and all the information
relevant to their organi2ation. With ERP systems, firms are able
to manage all their resources (i.e.. physical or intangible assets,
finances, human resources, production, etc.) more effectively.
The ERP system not only aids in standardizing business
processes across an enterprise but also helps management
increase their visibility of the business by providing real-time
financial and production information.
Companies have expressed multiple reasons to implement
ERP (20). Some companies chose to perform an ERP
implementation because of their need to integrate disparate
systems throughout the enterprise. ERP systems enable
companies to consolidate the disparate data sources into one
database and radically increase the ability to create reports from
data originating in multiple departments across the enterprise. A
second reason why companies implemented ERP systems was
due to the Year 2(X)0 (Y2K) bug. Some companies owned nonY2K compliant software and decided to switch to ERP instead
of moving their old system to the next vereion because of the
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Critical success factors for ERP projects have been studied
from a number of different perspectives (22). Sarker and Lee
(27) emphasized social enablers such as strong commined
leadership, open and honest communication, and a balanced and
empowered implementation team as necessary antecedents to a
successful implementation. Holland et al. (13) focused on
strategic factors that span the whole project and tactical factors
that can be applied to particular parts of the project. Issues of IT
strategy, innovation and creativity as applied to ERP
implementation have also been studied (32). Other studies (14,
23) examined problems arising from a lack of fit between the
organization and the ERP system. More specifically, Sieber et
al. (33) discussed the fit-gap analysis that is critical to ERP
implementation, and Soh et al. (34) investigated problems with
misalignments in ERP implementalion. Umble et al. (37)
emphasized the selection of the software in their discussion of
critical success factors. Akkermans and van Helden (1) focused
on how an ERP implementation affects IT throughout the
organization and how the attitude of the project's stakeholders
affects the success of the project. Shanks (29) used the project
phase model to study the differences between two
implementations in the same organization. One project failed
and the other succeeded. The differences in the successful and
unsuccessftil projects were determined to be critical success
Journal of Computer Information Systems
factors. Others have used particular development tools or
methodologies to increase the chances of success in ERP
implementation (31, 35). Nah et a!. (24) studied Chief
Information Officers' perspectives of the critical success factors
for ERP implementation and found the most important factors to
be top management support, project champion, ERP teamwork
and composition, project management, and change management
program and culture. Loh and Koh (17) focused on the criticaJ
success factors for ERP implementations in small and medium
sized enterprises and found that the discovery and management
of critical elements and their respective constituents at each
phase of the ERP implementation project leads to a successful
We reviewed the literature on critical success factors in
ERP implementation and upgrade to identify a comprehensive
list of factors and then organized them into seven main
categories - (I) Business Plan and Vision, (2) Change
Management, (3) Communication, (4) ERP Team Composition,
Skills and Compensation, (5) Project Management, (6) Top
Management Support and Championship, and (7) System
Analysis, Selection and Technical Implementation. These seven
categories and their sub-factors arc discussed next
reengineering will also help companies reduce the amount of
customization needed in the implementation (4, 13, 19, 30), thus
increasing the likelihood of system success. However, redesign
of business processes can increase the complexity, risks and
costs of the project (35).
Business Plan and Vision
An ERP project includes all functional areas of an
enterprise. The effort and cooperation of technical and business
experts as well as end-users is necessary for the success of an
ERP implementation. Therefore, involving people with both
business and technical knowledge into the project is essential for
success (2. 3, 4, 30, 35, 36). The involvement of the
implementor, vendors and consultants is also critical (10, II).
The best people in the organization should make part of the
implementation team in order to foster innovation and creativity
that are important for success (4, 5, 8, 26, 30, 32, 38). It is
important that the functional team members in the organization
be involved in the project on a full time basis (30). These team
members must be empowered to make quick decisions (30) and
performance should be tied to compensation (8).
The project team should be balanced, cross-functional, and
have representatives of the internal stalT as well as consultants
(10, 13, 30, 35, 36). The sharing of information, especially fix)m
vendors and consultants, is very important and requires
partnership trust (9, 10, 25, 35). Creating incentives and risksharing agreements will help the achievement of common goals
It is very important to have a clear vision, goal, and
business plan for an ERP project. A business case should be
established for both ERP implementation and upgrade (6). A
business plan is very critical (26) and should specify benefits,
resources, costs, risks and a timeline (38). The project also needs
a clear vision to guide the ERP implementation (5, 12). The
vision and mission of the project must also specify measurable
goals and targets (2, 13). The goals and benefits of the project
must be clear and well understood (30, 35). A justification for
the investment in an ERP system should also be made based on
the change in work processes to align with the fiiture direction
of the business (8). Hence, the project should lead to alignment
of the business strategy with IT strategy.
Change Management
Recognizing the need for change in order to stay
competitive is very important (8). A culture of shared values and
a strong corporate identity is critical to facilitate change, and an
enterprise wide structure and culture change should be managed
(8. 26). Shared values should emphasize functional, product,
market segment, or task focused perpectives (3). Formal
education and training should be provided so users can gain an
understanding of how the system works and how it will impact
their work (2, 3, 4, 13, 30, 35). Even though training tends to be
one of the areas to be cut in the case of budget overruns, it is
critical to the success of the implementation project as well as
the quality of decisions that will be taken based on the system
User involvement and feedback in the d e s i ^ of the system
is also important (2, 13). In order to effectively solve user
problems and manage organizational change, a support
organization (i.e., help desk, on-line user manuals) should be in
place (38). The IT workforce should be trained on the new
system and processes (3, 36). The company's commitment to
change will be expressed by its perseverance and determination
in solving implementation problems (30).
During the implementation of an ERP system, constant
business process recnginccring should take place in order to take
advantage of the new system (2, 38). Business process
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Expectations and goals must be communicated effectively
among stakeholders and throughout all levels of the organizati(H)
(2, 8, 13, 26, 30, 35, 38). It is very important for stakeholders to
understand the capabilities and limitations of the ERP system.
ERP systems may fail to meet expectations due to "overselling"
the software (35). Communication should be complete and open
to guarantee honesty. Any feedback offered by users must be
seen as being received and acted on (8). The communication
plan should include the rationale for the ERP implementation,
details of the business process management change,
demonstration of the software, change management strategies,
contact points, scope and project progress (2, 36).
ERP Team Composition, Sldlls and Compensation
Project Management
Effective project management is critical to the success of
ERP implementation. Not only should responsibility for the
project be clearly assigned (26), the scope of the ERP
implementation project also needs to be clearly defmed and
controlled (3, 13, 26, 30, 35). Any changes in the original
project should be evaluated based on their business benefits and,
if possible, implemented at a later time (36, 38). Furthermore,
changes to the scope of the project must be assessed based on
the additional time and cost it would entail (36). The milestones
and delivery dates of the project must be realistic and clearly
stated (2, 3, 13, 19,30).
Due to the large number of parties involved in an ERP
implementation, it is critical to coordinate project activities
across all affected parties (8). Internal integration tools are
essential to coordinate activities involving the project team
while external integration tools are necessary to facilitate
collaboration with external stakeholders and to assure that user
and process requirements are being integrated into the system
Journal of Computer Information Systems
(3). In order for an ERP implementation project to be a success,
timeliness must be enforced and progress must he tracked by
monitoring milestones and targets (2, 19, 26, 35, 36). The
success ot the project can be gauged by completion dates, costs,
quality, and system performance.
Top Management Support and Championship
Top management support is a necessary condition for ERP
implementation success (27). It is critical to have support and
approval from top management for an ERP implementation (2,
3, 4. 5. 19. 30, 35, 36). The ERP project must be clearly and
explicitly designated as top priority by top management (30. 38).
In addition, the top management must be willing to allocate
valuable resources to the implementation project (13, 30, 35).
These resources include time, money and personnel necessary
for the ERP implementation.
T^e importance of a project champion in an ERP
implementation is greater than in other IS implementations
because the project relies heavily on organizational suppwrt
perseverance (36). The commitment of the project champion is
critical to drive consensus and to oversee the entire
implementation project (26). The project champion should be an
advocate for the project (30) and must continually manage
resistance and change (19). The project champion must be a
high level official in the organization to facilitate goal setting
and legitimizing change. Having a high ranking official as the
champion for the project can facilitate monitoring due to the
individual's knowledge of the business and his/her ability to
acquire resources in the organization (8, 35).
System Analysis, Selection and Technical Implementation
For an ERP implementation to be successful, the
complexities of existing business legacy systems must be
successfully managed (2, 13. 15). Customization of the ERP
system should be avoided as much as possible (3, 19, 16, 26, 30,
36). Customizing an ERP system has been associated with an
increase in IT costs, a longer implementation time, and the
inability to benefit from the vendor's software maintenance and
upgrades. To justify customizing the system, a strong business
case on the loss of competitive advantage should be developed
(35). The overall architecture of the system must be configured
before the deployment. Defining the architecture before the
implementation prevents reconfiguration at later stages (38).
Rigorous and sophisticated testing is very important for the
success of the implementation (2, 26). In order to achieve the
full benefits of an ERP system, integration of data from
previously used systems and with the company's other systems
is critical (35). To ease the integration process, organizations
may develop their own middleware (4) or employ Enterprise
Application Integration (EAI) which uses special middleware
that serves as a bridge between different applications for system
development tools provided by the vendor should be used as
much as possible (31, 35). These tools and methodologies
usually lead to a reduction of costs and implementation time and
increase the amount of knowledge transferred to the client. The
use of appropriate tools and methods for modeling, development
and implementation (19, 28) is essential. It is critical to have
efl'ective troubleshooting if there are errors with the system (13).
One of the first and most important steps in an ERP
implementation is the selection of an ERP package (3, 37). The
organizational fit of ERP is essential (14, 23, 34) to minimize
customization. The ERP package selected must meet the
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information and functional needs of the organization, and must
support the organization's business processes (33. 35)- In order
to have a comprehensive view of the enterprise's requirements
for an ERP system, it is important for all functional areas to be
involved in the selection of the pack^e. It is also critical that
test scenarios represent as many departments and cover current
and future processes (2). The architecture that will run the ERP
application also constitutes an important choice. Some key
considerations are whether the system will be centralized or
decentralized and how compatible it will be with existing
systems (35).
A fundamental requirement for a successful ERP
implementation is the availability and accuracy of the system's
data. Problems with data can lead to serious delays in the
project. Before any data is even converted, the organization
must decide what information will be loaded onto the system.
This can be very difficult if one understands that the data can
come from a number of disparate data sources in countless
different formats (3, 35). The data conversion can be even more
dit^cult if the company does not understand what information it
wants to include into the system, and what it wants to leave out
Table I provides a summaiy of the broad categorization of
ERP critical success factors in the literature.
A process theory approach (18) is used in this research to
understand the importance of the different critical success
factors for ERP implementations and upgrades. This theory
organizes the series of events that lead to an ERP project
completion into 4 phases (18): chartering, project, shakedown,
and onward and upward- The chartering phase focuses on
crejUing the business case for the project and identifying the
solutions constraints. The project phase comprises system
configuration and rollout where the system is integrated with
other systems in the business, the system is tested, and users are
trained on its functionality. The shakedown phase occurs
between the time from "going live" until "normal operation" or
"routing use." During this phase, outstanding bugs are fixed, the
system is fine tuned for performance, and users may be retrained
if necessary. The onward and upward phase refers to ongoing
maintenance and enhancement of the ERP system and relevant
business processes to fit the evolving business needs of the
A similar mode! was proposed by Cooper and Zmud (7)
which focuses on IT implementation in general and which
comprises six stages; initiation, adoption, adaptation,
acceptance, routinization. and infusion. The initiation and
adoption stages describe the events in the chartering phase of the
ERP project Hfecycle. The adaptation stage maps directly to the
project phase. The acceptance and routinization stages match the
shakedown phase, and finally, the infiision stage is the same as
the onward and upward phase.
Markus and Tanis' 4-phase model is used in this research
instead of Cooper and Zmud's 6-stage model because of its
simplicity and conciseness. Even though Cooper and Zmud's
model might involve a higher level of granularity, we adopt
Markus and Tanis' model because it is easier for the study
participants to understand these phases and it provides enough
detail to make the results meaningful. Next, we explain the
phases in Markus and Tanis' model in greater detail.
The first phase in the ERP Hfecycle is the chartering phase.
This part of the project is characterized for including the original
idea to adopt (or upgrade) an ERP system- Other activities
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include the decision to implement (or upgrade) an ERP system
or not. the selection of a project leader and/or champion, the
selection of an implementation consultant, and scheduling and
planning of the project- The key players of the chartering phase
are IT experts, upper management, consultants and vendors,
Categorization of ERP Critical Success Factors
Business plan and vision
1.1 Business plan/vision (2, 5, 6, 12, 13,26, 38)
1.2 Project mission/goals (2, 30, 35)
1.3 Justification for investment in ERP (&)
Change management
2.1 Recognizing the need for chEtnge (8)
2.2 Enterprise wide culture and structure management (3, 8. 26, 35)
2.3 Commitment lo change-perseverance and determination (30)
2.4 Business Process Reengineering (2. 4, 13, 19, 30, 35, 38)
2.5 Analysis of user feedback (2, 13)
2.6 User education and training (2, 3, 4, 13. 19.30. 35)
2.7 User support organization and involvement (38) •
2.8 IT workforce re-skilling (3, 36)
3.1 Targeted and effective communication (2. 8. 35. 38)
3.2 Communication among stakeholders (13, 30)
3.3 Expeclalions communicated al all levels (13,26, 30,35, 36)
3.4 Project progress a)mmunication (13, 36)
ERP team composition, sldlls and comprnsation
4.1 Best people on team (4, 5. 8, 26, 30, 32, 38)
4.2 Balanced or cross-functional team (13.30,35,36)
4.3 Full-time team members (30)
4.4 Partnerships, trust, risk-sharing, and incentives (9,10, 25,35, 38)
4.5 Empowered decision makers (30)
4.6 Performance tied to compensation (8)
4.7 Business and technical knowledge of team members and consultants (2. 3,4. 10. 11,30,35,36)
Project management
5.1 Assign responsibility (26)
5.2 Clearly establish project scope (3,13, 30)
5.3 Control project scope (26, 30, 35)
5.4 Evaluate any proposed change (36, 38)
5.5 Control and assess scope expansion requests (36)
5.6 Define project milestones (2. 3,13)
5.7 Set realistic milestones and end dates (19. 30)
5.8 Enforce project timeliness (2. 26)
5.9 Coordinate project activities across all affected parties (3, 8)
5.10 Track milestones and targets (2. 19,26.35,36)
Top management support and championship
6.1 Approval and support from top management (2, 3. 4, 5, 19, 27,30, 35,36)
6.2 Top management publicly and explicitly identified project as top priority (30, 38)
6.3 Allocate resources (2. 3. !3. 30, 35)
6.4 Existence of project champion (30. 35. 36)
6.5 High level executive sponsor as champion (8. 19, 26, 35)
6.6 Project sponsor commitment (26)
Systems analysis, selection und technical implementation
7.1 Legacy system (2. 13. 15)
7.2 Minimum customization (3. 16, 19, 26,30, 35, 36)
7.3 Configuration of overall ERP architecture (38)
7.4 Vigorous and sophisticated testing (2. 26)
7.5 Integration (4. 15,35)
7.6 Use of vendor s development tools and implementation methodologies (31,25)
7.7 ERP package selection (2. 3, 14. 23, 33, 34.35, 37)
. •
7.8 Selection of ERP Architecture (35)
7.9 Selection of data to be converted (35)
7.10 Data conversion (3. 35)
7.11 Appropriate modeling methods/techniques (19, 28)
7.12 Troubleshooting (13)
The project phase is the next phase of the ERP lifecycle.
The most important tasks are the rollout of the system, training,
data conversion from previous systems, testing, integration with
legacy systems, and the contlguration of the software. The key
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players are the consultants, vendors. IT experts from ihe
organization, the project manager, and the implementation
project team.
The shakedown phase begins at the point when the system
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is fully functional and accessible by users and ends at the point
when normal or routine use of the system is achieved. Stafi'ing
up to deal with temporary inefficiencies, retraining, system
performance tuning, and bug fixing are the key activities in this
phase. Most problems in previous stages can be felt in the
shakedown phase, so it is important to monitor and deal with
problems that arise in order to stabilize the system. The key
players are operations managers, end-users, the projecl team,
and IT support personnel.
The final stage is the onward and upward phase of the ERP
lifecycle. This phase begins after normal or routine use of the
system is achieved and ends when the system is replaced or
upgraded. The most important activities of this stage include
assessing the benefits of the implemented system, increasing the
skills of users, upgrading the software, and carrying out
continuous business improvements. The key players are IT
support personnel, end-users, and operational managers.
Each of the four stages of tbe ERP lifecycle can be applied
to both upgrade and implementation projects. In the case of
implementation projects, the chartering phase begins when the
organization recognizes it has a problem that couid be solved by
implementing an ERP system. The beginning of the project
phase is marked by the decision to implement an ERP system
and ends once the system goes live. Tbe shakedown picks up
when the system goes live and ends when its usage becomes
routine throughout the organization. Finally, the onward and
upward phase begins at the point when the system's usage
becomes commonplace and ends once the system is replaced
either by a different type of system or a newer version of the
The upgrade project starts the chartering phase when the
company realizes the need to upgrade their ERP system. The
end of this phase occurs when the company decides what
version they want to upgrade. As the upgrade project is in the
chartering phase, the original implementation is in the onward
and upward phase. Because the original system has been
stabilized, tbe organization now has time to judge tbe system's
effectiveness and decide on whether it is meeting their needs or
needs to be upgraded. After the chartering phase of the upgrade
project is complete, the project phase will follow. During this
phase, the upgrade project will determine what is necessary to
make a successful transition to the new version. As the upgrade
project phase is taking place, the original implementation is still
in the onward and upward. It isn't until the new version of tbe
system goes live that the original implementation will end the
onward and upward phase and therefore, complete the ERP
lifecycle. On the other hand, the fact that the upgraded system
has gone live means that the upgrade project made a jump from
the project phase to the shakedown phase. This phase will
ultimately end once the upgraded system's usage becomes
routine at which time tbe onward and upward phase of the
upgrade will begin. The relationship between the phases of the
original implementation and the upgrade can be seen in Figure
During the last phase of the upgrade project, it is possible
that another upgrade is planned. Tbe second upgrade, mucb like
the first, will follow the same four phases of the ERP lifecycle.
The relationship between tbe phases of the first and second
upgrade will be tbe same as those of the original implementation
and the first upgrade. Wben tbe second upgrade goes through
the chartering and project phases, the first up^^de will be going
through the onward and upward phase. Finally, at the end of the
second upgrade's project phase, the first upgrade will complete
the ERP lifecycie.
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The multiple case study approach was chosen as the
methodology for this study. The case study methodology was
undertaken because it is effective in studying phenomena in
their early stages. It also enables the researchers to study the
phenomena in their natural setting and leam about the state of
the art. In particular, the multiple'case study approach was
employed to increase generalizability of the results by studying
more than one ERP site.
Two organizations were selected for tbe study. Structured
interviews were performed and questionnaires were completed
by members of the ERP implementation and upgrade teams. To
retain the anonymity of tbe two organizations and their
employees, the names of the organizations and their employees
will not be revealed. Both organizations had implemented an
ERP system and upgraded the system at least once. One of the
organizations implemented ERP in a single site while another
performed their implementation across multiple sites in the same
state. The following is a short description of the two
State University
State University is a large public university that has
implemented SAP R/3 across all its campuses. The
implementation of the ERP system was motivated by the lack of
Year 2000 compliancy and the need for more and better
functionality. Some of the functionality that was not provided by
its current systems included the integration of all the enterprises'
information and other administrative functionality. The modules
implemented were Fixed Assets. Project Systems. Financials,
Human Resources, Procurement, and Payroll. Slate University
upgraded their implementation to guarantee system support and
to leverage functionality provided by the newer version of the
systemPublic Power Company
Public Power Company is a government owned utility that
provides electricity to the city in which it is located. Much like
State University, it implemented an SAP R/3 ERP system
because its system was not Year 2000 compliant and it was
seeking better functionality than its disparate systems could
provide. The implementation consisted of three wave
methodology in which different modules were brought on-line at
different times. The first wave consisted of Asset Management,
Materials Management, Controlling, and Fin2ince. Project
System Plant Management was implemented in the second
wave. In the third wave, the Investment Management Module
was implemented. For Public Power Company, lack of support
for their ERP system was tbe number one priority to upgrade
their system. The support for their version of the system was
going to run out and, although future support was available, it
would be more costly. Improved functionality was a secondary
motivation for the system upgrade.
Data Collection
Data collection for tbe study was carried out with the
persons involved in the original implementation and upgrades of
tbe system. In the case of State University, we collected tbe data
from the Associate Chief Information Officer (CIO), the
Director of Administrative Systems as well as five ERP module
owners. For the Public Power Company, we collected the data
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from the CIO, the ERP upgrade Project Manager, and five ERP
module owners.
The case study consisted of two sets of interview questions
(one set for original implementation and the other set for
upgrade - see the Appendix) as well as two sets of
questionnaires to supplement the interviews. The first set of
interview questions sought to determine the occurrence of events
or behaviors during the original implementation of the ERP
system related to the critical success factors identified from the
literature. The second set of interview questions were similar to
those in the first interview but differed in that they were meant
to elicit the occurrence of behaviors or events related to the
identified critical success factors during the upgrade (rather than
initial implementation) of the ERP. The questions in both
interviews were used to start a discussion about the critical
success factors. In the case that its occurrence was elicit, further
probing questions would follow to gather more details on the
The questionnaires provided to all participants gave them
the opportunity to rate the importance of the seven categories of
critical success factors in the four phases of the ERP
Implementation and Upgrade Project Lifecycles. The
participants were asked to rate each critical success factor
category for each phase on a 5-point scale from 0 to 4 where 0
meant "not important" I "of little importance," 2 "important," 3
"very important," 4 "extremely important (i.e. critical)." Other
sources of information such as archival documentation and
interviews were used to gain a better understanding of both the
implementation and upgrade projects.
The participants in Public Power Company went through
two interviews (on both ERP implementation and upgrade) and
responded to both questionnaires. In the case of State
University, due to the participants' workload, three interviewees
filled out the upgrade questionnaire, two fliled out the
implementation questionnaire, and the Associate CIO as well as
the Director of Administrative Systems responded to both sets of
interview protocol and their supporting questionnaires.
The data collected captured the importance of the 7 critical
success factor categories across the four phases of ERP
implementation and upgrade. The results for the rating of each
critical success factor category for the original implementation
and upgrade can be found in Table 2. For the original
implementation, the most important factor was 'ERP Team
Composition. Skills and Compensation' followed closely by
'Top Management Support and Championship.' The next group
of important factors consists of 'Communication,' 'Change
Management,' and 'Project Management' The final group of
factors was 'Systems Analysis, Selection and Technical
Implementation' and 'Business Plan and Vision.' In the case of
the HRP upgrade, the most important factor was 'ERP Team
Composition, Skills and Compensation' with 'Communication'
taking second place. The second group of factors in order of
importance consisted of "Project Management,' 'Top
Management Support and Championship,* and 'Change
Management.' The third group of factors consisted of 'Systems
Analysis, Selection and Technical Implementation' and
'Business Plan and Vision.'
The results for the importance of the critical success factors
across all phases of the original ERP implementation can be
found in Figure 2. One can describe each of the 7 critical
success (actor categories for ERP implementation as being part
of one of three groiyjs. The first group consists of the fectors
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whose importance increased from the Chartering to the Project
phase and later dropped in importance during the Shakedown
phase only to drop again during Onward & Upward phase.
"Systems Analysis, Selection and Technical Implementation.'
'ERP Team Composition, Skills and Compensation,' 'Project
Management' and 'Change Management' are part of this group.
The second group consists of 'Business Plan and Vision' and
'Top Management Support and Chtmipionship' whose
importance fell or stayed the same from the Chartering to the
Project Phase and fell during the Shakedown and Onward &
Upward Phases. Finally, 'Communication' was part of the third
group because it increased in importance from the Chartering,
Project and Shakedown phases and fell dtuing the Onward &
Upward Phase.
Figure 3 describes the results for the importance of the
critical success factor categories across all phases of the ERP
upgrade. These fectors fall into two main groups. The factors
whose importance increased from the Chartering to the Project
phase and fell during the Shakedown and Onward & Upward
phases are 'Systems Analysis, Selection and Technical
Implementation,' 'ERP Team Composition, Skills and
Compensation,' 'Project Management,' 'Communication' and
'Change Management.' The second group describes those
factors whose importance decreased from the Chartering to the
Project Shakedown and Onward & Upward Phases. These
factors are 'Business Plan and Vision' and 'Top Management
Support and Championship.'
Of the seven categories of critical success factors, 'ERP
Team Composition, Skills and Compensation' is found to be the
most important overall for both implementation and upgrade.
Throughout the interviews, the participants in both organizations
emphasized the importance of the team responsible for both the
implementation and the upgrade. During the initial
implementation, both companies tried to have "the best and the
brightest...the people you can't afford to lose," as the CIO of
Public Power Company described it, in the project team.
Another factor that was evident for both organizations was the
importance they put on empowering the project team. It is very
important for the success of both the implementation and
upgrade projects that the project members are trusted to take
hard decisions and not have to constantly ask for approval from
their managers. The importance that was given to this factor was
demonstrated in State University when top management sent
everyone in the project team a letter explicitly describing their
commitment to empowering the ERP team during the
The amount of involvement of the team members and the
incentives to complete the project decreased from the original
implementation to upgrade. In one of the two organizations, the
team members were offered to be eligible for overtime during
the original implementation. Before the start of the project none
of the team members were eligible. This bonus was not offered
during the upgrade. Furthermore, in the same organization, even
t h o u ^ the participants were involved full time in the original
implementation, they were only involved part time in the
upgrade project. The importance of the ERP team also changed
throughout the project. This category of critical success fectors
was shown to be critical during the project phase. In the end, it
is the project team who is implementing the system. If the
group's skills and knowledge are not sufficient, the project can
be compromised.
Journal of Computer Inrormation Systems
Special Issue 2006
Journal of Computer Information Systems
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Special Issue 2006
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In the original implemenlation, 'Top Management Support
and Championship" was critically important. Due to the amount
of change to business processes and the way information is
acquired, stored, accessed and analyzed, it is very important for
top management to show its support in order to facilitate change.
Support can be demonstrated in a number of ways such as
publicly communicating support and allocating necessary
resources for the project. In the case of both organizations, top
management showed their support in both ways. Championship
is very important in the original implementation as well. Botfi
organizations had a project champion who sold the project
throughout the organization and was the "cheerleader" or
motivator of the project team. One of the best examples of the
importance of senior management support is demonstrated in the
case of one of the organizations where a senior manager did not
support the ERP implementation. Due to his negative opinion
toward the project, the managers working in his/her department
began to share his/her disdain and communicated it to other
employees. On the other hand, in the departments where senior
management did support the implementation, managers and
other employees shared their enthusiasm.
'Top Management Support and Championship' was not as
important during the upgrade project. One of the module owners
said that even though they did have top management support for
the upgrade, it wasn't as necessary because the new system
would not affect users to the extent that the original
implementation did. It was necessary to gain the support of
management in order to attain the necessary resources, but due
to the relatively smaller amount of resourees necessary for this
project the highest levels of management didn't have to get
involved. Furthermore, the project team didn't emphasize the
importance of the project champion during the upgrade. In the
interviews, the participants either stated that championship
wasn't as important or indicated a lower level of agreement on
who was the project champion than in the original
Top management support is one of the few critical success
factors that is most important during the Chartering phase of the
project and decreases in importance as the projeet progresses. Its
importance in the first phase of the project is due to the need for
the allocation of resources that occurs at the beginning of the
project. If there is no support for the project from top
management at the beginning of the project, the ERP system
might not be implemented at all. This occurs both in the
implementation and the upgrade of the ERP system.
'Communication' is very important in both the
implementation and upgrade. Both organizations took steps to
facilitate and encourage communication between the project
team members and stakeholders in the organizations. In the case
of State University, the project team was relocated to an office
with no cuhicle subdivisions that one of the module owners
called the "bullpen" because it forced them to come into contact
with the team members. Each person had only a desk to
facilitate the communication and "overhearing" what are the
issues with other parts of the system. For Public Power
Company, their way of facilitating communication was to move
the project team to a rented building in order to create a new
work environment. Because the people implementing the system
were collocated for the duration of the project, many of them
expressed the feeling of being part of a team. Communication
with stakeholders outside of the project was also very important.
Expectations for the project and the project's progress were
communicated using a number of channels including posters and
the intranet. During Uie implementation, fiiture users knew that
Special Issue 2006
an EPR system was being implemented and when to expect
different milestones.
During the upgrade, the communication between project
team members continued being very important. Although
conscious steps were not taken to facilitate communication,
channels had already been defined to facilitate this
communication. In the case of State University, the project team
of the original implementation became responsible for the
system once it was implemented. Therefore, they were
collocated to facilitate communication among the team
members. In the case of Public Power Company, the team
members already knew each other and had experience working
together. This contact facilitated communication.
It is interesting to note that tbe importance of
communication from the Project to the Shakedown phase is
different between the implementation and upgrade lifecycles. In
the case of ERP implementation, communication grows in
importance from the Project to the Shakedown phase since
multiple stakeholders (such as users, consultants and vendors)
play a key part in fine-tuning the system. Staffing may also
increase to deal with temporary inefficiencies while users
receive fiarther training or retraining. The implementation team
works closely with users during the Shakedown phase to fix
hugs and to deal with problems that arise in stabilizing the
system. On the other hand, the importance of communication
decreases from the Project to the Shakedown phase of the ERP
upgrade lifecycle since the system is largely stabilized af^er the
initial implementation. After the Project phase of the ERP
upgrade lifecycle. users would have been trained on the
upgraded system and the implementation team would have
completed the configuration and testing of the upgraded system.
Unless major problems arise with the rollout of^ the upgraded
system, communication with stakeholders would decrease. Since
most upgrades are purely technical and involved only minor
changes to user interfaces and business processes,
communication with stakeholders decreases from the Project to
the Shakedown phase.
'Change Management' is shown to be very important
throughout the implementation and upgrade. In order to
determine tbe type and amount of change an organization is
undertaking, one could look at the effects of business process
reengineering (BPR) in the organization. In the case of Public
Power Company, the organization took a decision at the
beginning of the project to change their business processes in
order to match those of the ERP system and take advantage of
the best practices it ofiers- "We wanted to remain as close to
vanilla as possible," said the CIO. On the other hand. State
University changed some of its business processes but
maintained some if its own and therefore had to customize its
Another large part of change management is training. In
both organizations, training for end-users was done by members
of the project team. Team members would go to training in their
particular modules of expertise and come hack to the
organization to teach the other employees in their area. Training
for IT personnel was slightly different because all employees in
the systems administration (Basis) and programming (ABAP)
had to go to classes. Along with training, making sure a user
support organization was available for the users proved to be
critical during the project. User support usually followed a
number of tiers in both organizations. If users had a problem,
they would contact the first level of support. If the problem was
not solved, it would be sent to a higher level of support,
probably one of the module owners. If U\e problem was not
Journal of Computer Information Systems
fixed, the vendor would be contacted and the problem would be
During the upgrade, change managenient remained a very
important factor and training was just as important as the
original implementation. In both organizations, the rollout of
this service was facilitated due to the existing infrastructure. In
the case of State University., classrooms had already been
established solely for BRP system training and were leveraged
during the upgrade. For Public Power Company, many of tbe
manuals for tbe systems had already been written and only had
to be updated to refleet the upgraded functionality. There was
very little BPR due to the technical nature of the upgrade in both
Tbe importance of cbange management follows a similar
pattem across the four phases of EPR implementation and
upgrade. It proves to be most important during the Project and
Shakedown phases. During the Project phase, it is important
because future end-users need to be informed about the changes
that will come with the system. During the Shakedown phase. It
is critical to have training for any users who did not know how
to use the system and a support organization to deal with any
problems that may arise. In the Chartering and Onward &
Upward phases, change management is nol as critical. Tbe tasks
in the Chartering phase center around planning and there is very
few execution. During the Onward & Upward phase, changes
are minimal and users are already very knowledgeable and
comfortable with the system.
•project Management' was very important during both tbe
original implementation and the upgrade. Before tbe
implementation or upgrade project even began, both
organizations defined the scope of their projects very precisely.
It was very important for everyone in the teams to have a clear
idea of what was tbe goal for the projecl. Furthermore, it wasn't
sufficient for the scope to be well defined; any requests to
expand tbe project scope had to be evaluated very critically.
Both organizations defined "scope creep" as the problem arising
from increasing the scope of the project. Proposed changes in
the project, in particular those related to an increase in the
ftinctionality of the system, were common because of the large
amount of ftinctionality provided by ERP. Even though ERP
software includes a large amount of functionality, both
organizations only used a subset. Therefore, if people in the
project leamed about additional functionality that could be
incorporated, they might lobby to add functionality to the
project. In both organizations, this decision to include additional
ftinctionality was made as a team taking into account its effect
on all pieces of the system.
Due to the complexity of the implementation and upgrade
projects, it was very critical for the project team to define and
enforce clear and reasonable milestones. One organization was
not very rigorous at defining or enforcing its milestones during
the upgrade project. This problem led to increased cost of tbe
project in order to complete it on time. Furthermore, some tasks,
such as training, had to be pedbrmed in less time because other,
more critical, tasks to tbe operation of the system had been
delayed significantly. This increased the risks to tbe project.
Anotber factor of project management that is critical
throughout the implementation and upgrade is the coordination
of project activities across all afTectcd parties. Due to the high
degree of integration between all the modules in an ERP system,
it was critical for any decision or change to be done taking into
account its effect on tbe whole system. State University
facilitated the coordination of project activities by locating its
entire project team in the same ofTice to facilitate
communication. Public Power Company sent the project
Special Issue 2006
members to a different building to facilitate their communication
as well. In the case of the upgrade projects, not as many steps
were taken to coordinate activities, although every week, or two
weeks, both project teams would meet to discuss issues affecting
different modules.
Tbe importance of project management is the greatest
during the Project phase of both the implementation and the
upgrade project. It is during this phase thai tasks necessary to
operate the system take place, and the greatest amount of
management and coordination is necessary.
'System Analysis, Selection and Implementation' is most
important during the Project phase of both the implementation
and tbe upgrade of the ERP systems in both organi7.ations. Tbis
category is most important during the Project phase because it
deals with the technical aspects of implementing or upgrading
the system. For example, tbe amount of customization must be
kept to a minimum in order to facilitate tbe implementation of
the system, and fiirtber upgrades. State University did some
customization wbile Public Power Company did none. The lack
of customization benefited Public Power Company by
facilitating the installation of'Hot Packs" which assume that the
system is a "plain vanilla" installation. Furthermore, the upgrade
was facilitated because no custom application had to be tested
with the new version and no interfaces had to be created.
The configuration of the ERP modules was most important
during the implementation but not as much during the upgrade.
During the implementation, the configuration task was very
challenging because it involved leaming tbe software and all its
functionality. In comparison, during the upgrade, a large amount
of the configuration was passed over to the new system
seamlessly, reducing the amount of work that had to be done.
Tbis was particularly the case for Public Power Company which
implemented the system in "plain vanilla" form.
Finally. 'Business Plan and Vision' is found to be critical
during the chartering phase of both the implementation and
upgrade projects. Most of the participants agreed that having a
clear business plan and vision for the project was critical for its
success. Both of the companies' systems were not Year 2000
compliant so it made sense to implement a more integrated
system such as ERP. Both organizations then upgraded tbe ERP
system because support for the system was going to be
discontinued and as a secondary motivation, to take advantage
of new functionality. Having a clear business plan is critical
during the chartering pbase of both projects because it is witb
tbese clear goals tbat an argument can be made for an
implementation or upgrade of the ERP system. ERP is a very
expensive endeavor, so unless iLs benefits can be justified, the
necessary resources might not be acquiredIn conclusion, the importance of the seven categories of
critical success factors across the four phases of the ERP
lifecycle is very similar for both the implementation and
upgrade projects. 'ERP Team Composition. Skills and
Compensation.' 'Project Management." and 'System Analysis.
Selection and Technical Implementation" are most important
during the Project phase. 'Business Plan and Vision' and "Top
Management Support and Championship' are critical during the
Chartering phase while 'Communication' and 'Change
Management' are very important during the Project and
Shakedown phases. Hence, at the beginning of an ERP
implementation or upgrade project, 'Business Plan and Vision'
and 'Top Management Support and Championship' should be
tbe focus. As the project progresses, the focus shifts toward the
rest of the factors. 'Change Management' and 'Communication'
continue to be very important even after the system has been
rolled out. Among all the factors, 'ERP Team Composition.
Journal of Computer Information Systems
Skills and Compensation" play the most critical role In both ERP
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The authors would like to acknowledge the Pepsi
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the Undergraduate Creative Activities and Rcsearcb Experiences
(UCARE) program at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln.
Journal of Computer Information Systems
. - .
ERP Implementation/Upgrade Critical Success Factors
Business Plan and Vision
a. Did you perform any kind of business planning before the ERP implementation/upgrade project took place? If so. please explain
b. What were the overall goals of the ERP implementation/upgrade project? (1.2)
' • . •
Change Management
a. Was there any change management involved in the implementation/upgrade project? Is so, please explain. (2.1,2.2,2.3)
b. Did you change any of your business processes to match those of the ERP system during the implementation/upgrade? (2.4)
c. Did the implementation/upgrade project involve any kind of user training? (2.6)
d. Did your IT personnel go through training to leam the ERP system during the implementation/upgrade? (2.8)
e. What kind of user support was offered during and after the implementation/upgrade? (2.7)
a. How would you describe the communication between stakebolders during tbe implementation/upgrade project? (3.1. 3.2)
b. Were tbe expectations for the project clearly communicated throughout the implementation/upgrade project's span? (3.3)
c. Was the project's progress communicated as the implementation/upgrade took place? (3.4)
ERP Team Composition, Skills and Compensation
i. .
a. Who was part ofthe implementation/upgrade project's team and what were their skills? (4.1,
b. Were the icam members involved in the implemenial ion/upgrade spending full-time with tbe ERP project? If so. did their
compensation change compared to before? (4.3. 4.6)
c. Was the implementation/upgrade team empowered to make decisions relating to the project? (4.5)
Project Management
a. Was the scope of the implementation/upgrade project clearly defined? (5.2)
b. Did the scope cbange during tbe implementation/upgrade project, and if so, bow was the decision taken? (5.3, 5.5)
c. Were milestones defined for the implementation/upgrade project? Were they realistic? (5.6, 5.7)
d. Were milestones and targets tracked during the implementation/upgrade? (5.10)
e. Were there steps taken to enforce the implementation/upgrade project's timeliness? (5.8)
What did you do to coordinate implementation/upgrade project activities across the affected parties? (5.9)
g. Was the responsibility for certain partsof tbe implementation/upgrade project clearly assigned to certain parties? (5.1)
b. Were cbanges made during the implementation/upgrade project? How were they evaluated? (5.4)
Top Management Support and Championship
a. Was there support for the implementation/upgrade project from top management? (6.1)
b. In the case that there was support, was this public and clear? Was the implementation/upgrade project identified as a top
priority? (6.2)
c. Were tbe necessary resources allocated to tbe implementation/upgrade project? (6.3)
d. Did the implementation/upgrade project have a project champion, and if so, what was his/her hierarchical level in the
organization? (6.4, 6.5)
e. How committed was the project champion to the implementation/upgrade? (6.6)
System Analysis, Selection and Technical Implementation
a. Did you have to deal will legacy systems during the implementation/upgrade project? If so, during which part of the
implementation/upgrade project? (7.1)
b. Did you have any problems witb previous custom izations of your ERP system during the implementation/upgrade project? (7.2)
c. Did you customize any parts of the implemented/upgraded system?(7.2)
d. Describe tbe process of configuring tbe implemented/upgraded system. (7.3)
e. Was there any testing of the system during the implementation/upgrade? If so, please explain. (7.4)
Describe the process of integrating the system into your organization during the implementation/upgrade from a technical point
of view. (7.5) How about organizational point of view? Managerial point of view?
g. How did you select the version of the software to implement/upgrade and its architecture? (7.7, 7.8)
h. Describe the process of converting data from the old system into the new one during the implementation/upgrade. How did you
decide what data to convert or port over? (7.9, 7.10)
Did you use the vendor's development tools or did you use your own during the implementation/upgrade? (7.6)
Mowdidyoutroubleshoot problems with the system during the implementation/upgrade? (7.12)
k. Were any types of modeling tools or techniques used in the implementation/upgrade project? (7.11)
Special Issue 2006
Journal of Computer Information Systems