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University of Nebraska-Lincoln

Lincoln, Nebraska 68588-0491


National Instruments

Austin, Texas 78759-3504


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 non-Y2K 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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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,


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


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 implementation.

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

Business Plan and Vision

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 (3,19).

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

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).


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

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 risk-sharing agreements will help the achievement of common goals (38).

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


(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 integration (15). Implementation methodologies and 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

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 (35).

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 organization.

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


include the decision to implement (or upgrade) an ERP system planning of the project- The key players of the chartering phase or not. the selection of a project leader and/or champion, the are IT experts, upper management, consultants and vendors, selection of an implementation consultant, and scheduling and


Categorization of ERP Critical Success Factors 1. 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 (&) 2. 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. Communication

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)

4. 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) 5. 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)

6. 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)

7. 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. players are the consultants, vendors. IT experts from ihe The most important tasks are the rollout of the system, training, organization, the project manager, and the implementation data conversion from previous systems, testing, integration with project team.

legacy systems, and the contlguration of the software. The key The shakedown phase begins at the point when the system Special Issue 2006 Journal of Computer Information Systems 102


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 ERP.

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 organizations.

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

system-Public 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 Journal of Computer Information Systems 103









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 subject.

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

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 implementation.

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.


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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 implementation.

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

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 implementation.

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 Special Issue 2006 Journal of Computer Information Systems



fixed, the vendor would be contacted and the problem would be solved.

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 organizations.

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

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

acquired-In 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. Special Issue 2006 Journal of Computer Information Systems



Skills and Compensation" play the most critical role In both ERP implementation and upgrade projects.


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ERP Implementation/Upgrade Critical Success Factors . - . -, Questionnaire

1. 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) ' • . • 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)

3. Communication

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)

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)

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)

f. 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)

6. 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)


7. 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)

f. 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)

i. Did you use the vendor's development tools or did you use your own during the implementation/upgrade? (7.6) j . 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)






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