Thesis: Complexity of ERP

Sample Thesis Paper

Kumar & Hillegersberg (2000) state that integrated enterprise-wide systems have been difficult to achieve in practice due to the high level of organizational and technical complexity associated with their development and implementation. Brady et al. (2001, p.31) suggest that there have been reports indicating that only a low percentage of companies experience a smooth rollout of their new ERP systems and immediately begin receiving the benefits they anticipate. Wood & Caldas (2001) propose that ERP should be understood as a complex phenomenon. They recommend that ERP implementations should be understood as major organizational change processes, and therefore should be planned and conducted as such. In one of the articles, Willcocks & Sykes (2000) try to describe the context in which it can be said that the CIO and IT function have been, on ERP, “asleep at the wheel”.

The complexity and criticisms of the ERP system have also been discussed in detail by various academics (Davenport, 1998; Davenport, 2000, pp.16-19; Mabert et al., 2001; Sprott, 2000). Davenport (1998) states that an enterprise system by its very nature, imposes its own logic on a company’s strategy, organization and culture. He argues that the biggest risk is that the enterprise system could dissolve the firm’s sources of advantage as most of the vendors try to structure the systems to reflect best practices for all its customers who purchase the ERP system. Sprott (2000) support this point and states that the complexity arises from the highly generalized nature of the packaged applications and the need to adapt and rapidly evolve to meet requirements in many different situations. Soh et al. (2000) state that these packages cost millions of dollars to buy, several times as much to implement, and necessitate disruptive organizational change. Davenport (1998) & Mabert et al. (2001) summarise the above statements by stating that these ERP systems are complex pieces of software, and installing them requires large investments of money, time and expertise. There have also been some reports which suggest that the failure of ERP systems have led some of the firms to bankruptcy (Diederich, 1998; Mabert et al., 2001; Davenport, 1998).

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