Determination of Critical Success Factors in Implementing an ERP System: A Field Study in Mexican Enterprises

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in Implementing an ERP System: A Field Study

in Mexican Enterprises

View From Practice No ´e Garc´ıa-S ´anchez

ITESO University, Periferico Sur-Manuel Gomez Morin No. 8585, C.P. 45090, Tlaquepaque, Jalisco, Mexico. E-mail: drngarcia@iteso.mx

Luis E. P ´erez-Bernal

ITESO University, Periferico Sur-Manuel Gomez Morin, No. 8585, C.P. 45090, Tlaquepaque, Jalisco, Mexico. E-mail: luis@iteso.mx

ABSTRACT

This research focuses on seeking the most important Critical Success Factors (CSF) that influence the implementation process of an Enterprise Resource Planning System (ERP) system. Based on a literature review, a reference list of 14 CSFs considered important in previous studies is identified. An experience survey, using a questionnaire, was conducted to verify whether these CSFs are also important and relevant for Mexican enterprises in the city of Guadalajara, Mexico. The sample consisted of 48 medium and large enterprises. The main results are as follows: (a) all the 14 CSFs in the reference list proved to be relevant for the Mexican enterprises; (b) no additional CSFs were added to the reference list by the participants, which implies that these 14 CSFs are the most important for the Mexican enterprises; and (c) cultural aspects is a likely cause of the differences in the ordering of CSF priority levels in different world regions.C 2007 Wiley Periodicals, Inc.

Keywords: ERP; implementing ERP; implementing IS; critical success factors for ERP; critical success factors for IS

1. INTRODUCTION

The Enterprise Resource Planning System (ERP) constitutes the most important Information Technology (IT) application supporting, effectively and efficiently, the operation of an organization. At present, nearly every organization regardless of its size or activity sector is operating, or is planning to operate in the short or medium range, an ERP system supporting its core business functions as well as the interconnection among them. Even before an enterprise or organization thinks about acquiring other IT applications to support a specific strategic objective, it needs to consider implementing and operating an ERP system. Otherwise, it is likely that the enterprise will not obtain the expected benefits from

Information Technology for Development, Vol. 13 (3) 293–309 (2007) C 2007 Wiley Periodicals, Inc. Published online in Wiley InterScience (www.interscience.wiley.com). DOI: 10.1002/itdj.20075

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these other applications, and it will surely waste time and money in this action. At the same time its personnel will lose confidence in the positive impact of IT developments.

ERP systems were first implemented in the 1980s. Since then, some success stories in implementing and using an ERP system have been reported. Nevertheless, the process of effectively and efficiently implementing and using an ERP system is still a long and daunting task for most enterprises. In spite of the many failures that have been reported about the implementation of these systems (Davenport, 1998), management in enterprises or organizations do not have a set of clear and convenient guidelines to successfully implement an ERP system. For many of them, this process is still uncertain and risky.

For this study, a “successful implementation” of an ERP system means that the system is implemented in a correct and complete form at minimum cost, time, and human resources. Human resources can be internal or external personnel. A successfully implemented ERP will soon start to produce the expected and planned benefits for the enterprise so that it can develop the competitive advantages that management had in mind when it decided to acquire the system.

This study thus provides guidelines for managing the implementation of an ERP system with acceptable probability of success. In Guadalajara, Mexico, it is an empirical study that has the objective to define the Critical Success Factors (CSF) influencing ERP implementa-tions in enterprises. The study has reviewed the relevant international Information Systems (IS) literature in order to determine the most important CSF. The list of CSF identified has been used as the reference basis for the present study.

2. LITERATURE REVIEW

2.1 ERP Definition and Importance

An ERP system is an information system that integrates all the enterprise functions. It provides services to all departments in an organization. It provides the enterprise with the capacity to plan and manage its resources based on an integrated approach (Turban, McLean, & Wetherbe, 2003). Some authors in the Information Systems (IS) field also call these systems Enterprise Information Systems (Davenport, 1998; Turban, McLean, & Wetherbe, 2003).

ERP systems have become the most important IT solution, very much required by an enterprise in order to function as a well-integrated and coordinated business unit, supported by a unique IT structure. At present, it is clear that commercial ERP solutions need some improvements to better support the enterprise requirements. These commercially available programs offer a good variety of solutions and, for the most part, have acceptable quality. Many authors in the IS field have researched and written papers in the ERP systems domain that explained their important characteristic of integrating information, departments, functions, and processes throughout the entire enterprise (Klaus, Rosemman, & Gable, 2000; Parr & Shanks, 2000; Somers & Nelson, 2001; Zhang, Lee, & Banerjee 2002).

2.2 ERP Implementation Process and its Importance

Due to the large ERP system’s capabilities and the essential solutions expected from this system to support the enterprise, its implementation process is complex and risky. It engages

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a considerable amount of enterprise resources, which are put at risk during implementation. The managers do not have clear and useful guidelines to direct, effectively and efficiently, the process of implementing an ERP system. They have no guarantee that the system will likely provide the expected benefits. Many authors attest to the importance and complexity of implementing an ERP system including Delone and McLean, 1992, Klauss, Rosemann, and Gable, 2000, Markus, Axline, Petrie, and Tanis, 2000, Somers and Nelson, 2001, and Zhang, Lee, and Banerjee, 2002.

2.3 Critical Success Factors Analysis

The Critical Success Factors are defined as “the limited number of areas in which results, if they are satisfactory, will ensure successful competitive performance for the organization” (Rockart, 1979). In the ERP context, Holland and Light (1999) define them as “the factors needed to ensure a successful ERP project.”

The conditions for failure or success in the implementation of an ERP system have been widely studied (Bingi, Sharma, & Godla, 1999; Esteves & Pastor, 2001; Fitzgerald & O’Kane, 1999; Reel, 1999, among others), and we use this research to identify factors in this study. Of the studies analyzing the CSF, nine studies were selected as most relevant among multiple ones in the literature. (See Table 1.)

After grouping the different factors analyzed in these nine studies based on similarity of their descriptions, a reference table was constructed (Table 1). It shows the cross-reference relations between the CSFs analyzed and the studies themselves.

2.4 Critical Success Factors Selected

Based on factors identified in the nine selected papers and on the cross-reference Table 1, a list of 14 CSFs was selected as reference for this study. The 14 CSFs are considered to represent the largest, clearest, and most significant subset of all the factors analyzed in the nine prior studies. For the selection process, the following questions were used as a guide: How frequently did factors appear? How clear were their descriptions? How well justified were they? How relevant have they been found? A new title was defined for some of the groups based on the similarities of their descriptions. The CSFs selected are as follows:

• Top management support

• Business process reengineering

• Project management

• Project champion

• End users involvement

• Training and support for users

• Having external consultants

• Change management plan

• ERP system selection

• Vision statement and adequate business plan

• To facilitate of changes in the organizational structure in the “legacy systems” and in the IT infrastructure

• Communication

• Teamwork composition for the ERP project

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TABLE 1a. Cross-Reference Between CSFs and Studies

3. METHODOLOGY

A field study was conducted with 48 Mexican enterprises in the Guadalajara metropolitan area, Mexico. Data was collected through an experience survey using a questionnaire.

The CSF technique was applied in the context of this survey in order to define and validate the set of factors that are considered to influence the implementation of an ERP system in an enterprise.

3.1 Methodology Justification

The development of the questionnaire survey had the objective of gathering information from people directly involved in the ERP implementation process. Another objective of this study is to generate the first steps and guidelines to open a research line about the

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TABLE 1b. Cross-Reference Between CSFs and Studies (continued)

implementation and use of ERP systems in Latin America. The CSF technique has been used traditionally within similar contexts and objectives resembling the ones presented here.

3.2 Survey Design

3.2.1 Orientation. The study is directed to enterprises that had already implemented an ERP and to enterprises that were in the final steps of implementing it. Specifically, the survey was administered to managers who were in charge of the implementation process, to consultants, and to IT professionals, in this order of priority. All of them were highly involved in the implementation process, with positions such as general project leader, main consultant, senior consultant, project leader, and IT project leader.

3.2.2 Selection of the enterprises. The companies were selected by size to include only medium or large. (See Appendix.) We did not, however, select companies by type of industry. This is because there is no list or register in any public or private institution in M´exico about the enterprises that have implemented or are in the process of implementing an

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ERP system. Instead, a variety of candidate identification sources were used. The procedure was as follows:

1. The first source of inquiry was asking ITESO University faculty and students at the IS master degree program to name enterprises as candidates for the study. From this source, enterprises were contacted, resulting in 21 valid questionnaires (11 medium and 10 large enterprises).

2. A second source of inquiry was asking ITESO faculty to name enterprises where they had done information systems consulting. They provided information to contact medium enterprises leading to 13 valid questionnaires.

3. ERP providers were asked for candidate firms. Twelve valid questionnaires were obtained this way (7 medium and 5 large enterprises).

4. Two additional valid questionnaires for medium enterprises were obtained from other sources.

5. The total number of enterprises was 48 with 85 questionnaires distributed.

6. Valid questionnaires by enterprise size consisted of 69% medium enterprises and 31% large enterprises.

3.3 Questionnaire Design

From the review of previous research focused on CSFs in ERP systems implementation, a list of 14 CSFs was defined. The process of selection and the list of these 14 CSF were discussed in section 2.4.

A questionnaire was designed with items for each one of these 14 selected factors. For each factor, a question assesses the level of importance that it has in the implementation process. This level, or grade, was provided based on the experience of the enterprise. A five-point Likert scale was used in order to determine the importance level of each critical factor. The scale goes from “Extremely critical and important for the success of the implementation” to “Neither critical nor important for the success of the implementation.” The questionnaire was validated by a pilot test conducted on eight enterprises.

3.4 Sample

The population included enterprises in the Guadalajara metropolitan area in M´exico that have implemented an ERP system or enterprises in the final steps of this process.

It took the researchers 8 months to get the participation of this sample of enterprises. E-mail was the medium for sending and receiving the questionnaires for most of the enterprises. There was no limitation to any specific ERP software to be considered for the sample, and it was not registered in the questionnaire. Nevertheless, we noticed that the most frequent ERP systems implemented by enterprises in the sample were: SAP, Oracle, and PeopleSoft. Some mid-size enterprises selected PARNET5.

3.5 Hypothesis

The hypothesis stated in this research is as follows, H0: The Critical Success Factors for the implementation of an ERP system in an enterprise found significant in previous research using this technique are also significant for the implementation process of an ERP system in a Mexican enterprise in the Guadalajara metropolitan area.

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TABLE 2. Descriptive Statistics on Person Answering Questionnaire

Average number Average number of years involved Organizational position at the Number of of years working with the implementation implementation process time enterprises in that enterprise process of that enterprise

CEO 4 10.00 6.50

CIO 9 4.78 2.78

Project Leader 8 6.88 3.63

Procurement Manager 4 5.00 3.00

Supply Chain Manager 1 5.00 2.00

Financial Manager 2 7.00 2.00

Commercial Manager 2 6.00 3.50

General Project Manager 5 4.00 2.00

Business Process Analyst 1 1.00 1.00

Not answered 12

TOTAL 48

4. RESULTS

The sample of 48 enterprises was analyzed and the following results were obtained: 4.1 General Characteristics

The questionnaires were answered by managers (approximate 50%), by consultants (approx. 10%), or by IT professionals (approx. 40%). It was answered by e-mail (90%) or personal interview (10%). For 12 questionnaires, the position of the person answering was not indicated.

Table 2 shows the statistics of the general data reported in the questionnaires. 4.2 Relevance of the 14 FCE Analyzed

It was found that over the 14 CSFs analyzed, the minimum score was 3.31 points on the five-point Likert scale (Table 3). According to Table 4, a value of 1 represents “Neither critical nor important for the success of the implementation process” and a value of 5 represents “Extremely critical and important for the success of the implementation process.” A score of 3 points is labeled as “Moderately critical and moderately important for the success of the implementation process.” Hence, a score of 3.31 represents a little bit “more critical” than that. In this way, it can be considered that all the 14 CSF analyzed in this study are relevant for the Mexican enterprises in the Guadalajara metropolitan area. Therefore, the H0 hypothesis stated for this study is supported.

Table 3 shows the descriptive statistics obtained for the CSFs as well as their ordering from high to low.

4.3 Significance Level for the Average Obtained for the Factors: “t-Student” Test

A “t-student” test was applied to determine if the value of the average grade of each factor analyzed is equal or greater than 3 at a significant level. If it is found significant that the average or mean grade of a factor is equal to or greater than 3, the factor is considered to qualify as a valid CSF.

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TABLE 3. Descriptive Statistics for the CSFs Analyzed

Critical Success Factor Mean Standard Deviation

1 Top management support 4.89 0.31

2 Project management 4.54 0.75

3 Teamwork composition for the ERP project 4.50 0.61

4 Communication 4.36 0.67

5 Business process reengineering 4.30 0.66

6 ERP system selection 4.24 0.74

7 Having external consultants 4.19 0.96

8 Training and support for users 4.06 0.67

9 Project champion 4.06 0.86

10 End users involvement 3.93 0.71

11 Change management plan 3.64 0.76

12 Tests and problem solution 3.64 0.78

13 To facilitate changes in the organizational structure, in the “legacy systems” and in the IT infrastructure

3.36 0.89

14 Vision statement and adequate business plan 3.31 0.99

TABLE 4. Likert Scale for Critical Importance Level

Description Grade

Extremely critical and important for the success of the implementation process. 5 Critical and important for the success of the implementation process. 4 Moderately critical and moderately important for the success of the implementation

process.

3 Important but not critical for the success of the implementation process. 2 Neither critical nor important for the success of the implementation process. 1

The t-student test data for the obtained grade average of the analyzed factors are the following:

47 degrees of freedom and a significance level of 0.05.

Ho=The factor mean is less than 3 (the factor is not considered critical).

Ha=The factor mean is equal to or greater than 3 (the factor is considered critical). Table 5 shows the results of this test.

Since all the calculated values of “t” are greater than the corresponding “t-table” values, it is concluded for all the CSFs that their mean is significantly equal to or greater than 3.

4.4 Another Interesting Result

Another result is that not one additional CSF was added to the 14 CSF reference list by the survey analysis, so it can be concluded that these 14 factors are, most likely, the most relevant for the population studied. It should be pointed out that it has not been demonstrated that these 14 are the only possible CSF in the population of the Guadalajara metropolitan area. The only fact that could be inferred is the high probability of the nonexistence of more critical CSF other than the 14 CSFs postulated in this study.

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TABLE 5. Results From the t-Student Test for CSFs

Standard Accepted

Critical Success Factor Mean Deviation t t-Table Hypothesis 1 Top management support 4.89 0.31 42.24 1.6779 Ha 2 Project management 4.54 0.75 14.23 1.6779 Ha 3 Teamwork composition for the

ERP project

4.50 0.61 17.04 1.6779 Ha

4 Communication 4.36 0.67 14.06 1.6779 Ha

5 Business process reengineering 4.30 0.66 13.65 1.6779 Ha 6 ERP system selection 4.24 0.74 11.61 1.6779 Ha 7 Having external consultants 4.19 0.96 8.59 1.6779 Ha 8 Training and support for users 4.06 0.67 10.96 1.6779 Ha 9 Project champion 4.06 0.86 8.54 1.6779 Ha 10 End users involvement 3.93 0.71 9.07 1.6779 Ha 11 Change management plan 3.64 0.76 5.83 1.6779 Ha 12 Tests and problem solution 3.64 0.78 5.68 1.6779 Ha 13 To facilitate changes in the

organizational structure, in the “legacy systems” and in the IT infrastructure

3.36 0.89 2.80 1.6779 Ha

14 Vision statement and adequate business plan

3.31 0.99 2.15 1.6779 Ha

4.5 Comparing and Explaining the Differences Between the Results of This Study Versus the Results in Other World Regions:

Observing Cultural Aspects

Some specific and interesting characteristics and differences are shown when analyzing the results of previous studies in different world regions or economic zones such as Western economies represented by the U.S. and Europe. We mention some of these differences and also propose an interpretation with regard to cultural differences.

4.5.1 Studies in the Western economic zone. Considering the economic zone, which will be called here the Western Economic Zone and that encompasses the U.S. and Europe, one of the most important research references is the Somers and Nelson (2001) study, whose results are later re-analyzed by Akkermans and van Helden (2002). Akkermans and van Helden revalidate the list of the top 10 CSF found by Somers and Nelson. These 10 CSF are shown in Table 6 as well as the CSF found important in this study. They are ordered according to the importance level obtained in each study.

According to the position of importance of the CSF in both studies, we propose the following explanations and cultural interpretation of the differences found.

4.5.1.1 Effectiveness of project management. In the present study, the factor “Project Management” appears in 2nd position, while in the Somers and Nelson study, it appears in 5th position. This indicates that, in Mexico, the process of administrating this kind of project is not good and because of that, to some degree, it does not reach the effectiveness level it reaches in the developed Western countries.

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TABLE 6. Results in Somers and Nelson (2001) Study Compared to Results in the Present Study Garc´ıa-S´anchez and P´erez (2007)

Somers and Nelson (2001) Present Study Garc´ıa-S´anchez and P´erez (2007) 1 Top management support 1 Top management support

2 Project Team competence 2 Project management

3 Interdepartmental cooperation 3 Teamwork composition for the ERP project 4 Clear goals and objectives 4 Communication

5 Project management 5 Business process reengineering 6 Interdepartmental communication 6 ERP system selection

7 Management of expectations 7 Having external consultants 8 Project champion 8 Training and support for users 9 Vendor support 9 Project champion

10 Careful package selection 10 End users involvement 11 Change management plan 12 Tests and problem solution

13 To facilitate changes in the organizational structure, in the “legacy systems” and in the IT infrastructure

14 Vision statement and adequate business plan

4.5.1.2. Business process reengineering importance. The factor “Business process reengineering” appears in this study in position 5, but it does not appear in the Top 10 Somers and Nelson list (it appears in position 16th in their complete final list). This could mean that, in Mexico, enterprises confront a higher level of disorder with respect to process definition, optimization, and documentation than that confronted by enterprises in Western countries in deciding on ERP acquisition.

4.5.1.3. External consultant support. The factor called “Having external consultants” appears in position 7, while in the Somers and Nelson study it is in position 22 in their complete final list. This is interpreted that, in the Mexican business environment, the support of external consultants is more required and accepted for projects of this magnitude and sophistication than by enterprises in Western countries. We remark that it is a potential mistake for Mexican enterprises to expect that ERP success is entirely dependent on external consultants.

4.5.1.4. Level of cooperation and mutual support. One of the most important CSFs for Western economy enterprises is “interdepartmental cooperation” (3rd position in Somers and Nelson list), which was the most relevant in the findings of Akkermans and van Helden (2002). This indicates that, in the Western economies, there are some difficulties in developing synergies and collaboration among people from different departments. The Waarts and van Everdingen (2003) study remarks on this problem in analyzing national culture and the process of adoption of ERP systems in enterprises of 10 European countries. There was a significant relationship between individualism and the ERP adoption. It could be inferred that, in the Mexican enterprise environment, the cooperation and mutual support among the personnel is more frequent than it is in Western-economy enterprises.

4.5.1.5. Vision and business plan definition. In the Somers and Nelson list, the “Clear goals and objectives” factor appears in 4th position, while the only factor related to this in

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our study, “Vision statement and adequate business plan,” does not appear among the first 10 CSFs. We find this of concern. This could be interpreted that in our Mexican environment, even though the project management activity is considered important, enterprises do not optimize resources and apply them to support the enterprise’s strategic plan. It could mean that in some enterprises, there is a lack of well-supported decisions. They might acquire a very expensive ERP, which could have very important capabilities but those capabilities might exceed many of their enterprise’s requirements according to its business strategic plan.

Another relevant aspect of difference shown in studies carried out in Western countries relates to evaluation of the state and use of the Legacy systems prior to the ERP imple-mentation. This factor was analyzed and found significant by Holland and Light (1999). It is logical to assume that in Western economies, enterprises tend to have traditional legacy systems supporting their operation before they acquire an ERP system, and that these legacy systems are more developed and complex than the ones found in Mexican or Latin American enterprises. For this reason, the treatment of these legacy systems would not be as critical to Mexican versus Western-economy enterprises.

4.5.2. Studies in Asia. Comparing the findings of this study versus Asian results, we found the following characteristics, differences, and explanations.

4.5.2.1. Studies in China. In Zhang, Lee, and Banerjee’s study (2002) concerning CSF in implementing ERP systems in China, the most significant CSF found concerns busi-ness process reengineering and involves the concept of “Chinese organizational culture.” Relating these findings with the results of the present study, we can make the following conclusions:

• The state of definition, order, optimization, and documentation of ERP processes in enterprises in Asia is similar to, to some degree, the state of the processes with the same attributes in Mexican enterprises. For both, intense work is required before the selection and implementation of an ERP system.

• Zhang, Lee, and Banerjee (2002) indicate that, in the Chinese culture, the enterprise managers are not used to utilizing systematic information to perform their functions; rather than that, they follow a tradition of experience and intuition. This also looks very similar to the Mexican environment because tradition is still a salient characteristic among CEOs and entrepreneurs, especially those from medium and small enterprises. This situation makes obtaining the needed support from the CEOs and entrepreneurs difficult.

• Another characteristic of the Chinese culture is “collectivism.” It is explained by Zhang, Lee, and Banerjee as meaning a strong “in-group relationship generally built over a long time. It is stable and difficult for outsiders access. Thus, cooperation across different functional areas entailed by ERP systems is less likely to be achieved in China’s organizations.” This situation seems different from what is regularly shown in Mexican enterprises, where the mutual support among the personnel itself is more likely to occur.

4.5.2.2. Studies in South Korea and Singapore. In countries such as South Korea and Singapore, studies on ERP implementation, such as those developed by Kwon and Young-Gul (2001) and Soh, Kien, and Tay-Yap (2000), have emphasized the problem of

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how to “fit the organization to the ERP,” which refers to the problem of fitting the enterprises having a traditional Asiatic model to ERP systems designed for Western enterprises. These authors have found that the effort required by the enterprises in Asia to implement an ERP system negatively influences the success of the process because of the strong resistance to change in the whole organization. Something similar happens in our Mexican environment and very probably in all Latin America. Having a broad population of medium and small enterprises where CEO or entrepreneurs carry out their management responsibilities based mostly on tradition, experience, and intuition. Because of this, the new work requirements brought out by the ERP system are difficult to solve. This problem is shown in the present study by the factor referred to as “Change Management Plan” (position 11th in the results), which focuses on this situation of change resistance provoked by the necessary fit of the organization to the ERP system operation.

5. CONCLUSIONS

5.1 Summary of Findings

The general conclusions of this study are as follows:

• All 14 CSFs in the reference list obtained from the previous studies were found significant as Critical Success Factors for Mexican enterprises in the Guadalajara metropolitan area.

• No additional CSFs were added to the reference list by the respondents in the sample, and so it can be concluded that these 14 CSFs are the most significant for these enterprises as well. The fact that “additional CSF do not exist in the population analyzed” is not demonstrated and it is likely that no additional factors are more critical than the 14 in the reference list.

• Mexican enterprises in the study population have similar obstacles and opportunities for success in the implementation process of an ERP system, as do enterprises in other countries where the generalized use of ERP systems is in process. Nevertheless, the importance levels of these obstacles and opportunities may be linked to cultural differences.

5.2 IMPLICATIONS

5.2.1 Implications for the enterprise managers. The results of this study give warning points or aspects on which to concentrate for managers involved in the process of implementing an ERP system.

This study explores the emerging CSFs that are important in an environment of techno-logical change associated with the implementation of an ERP system. The results provide warning points for the managers involved in this kind of projects. They will provide the managers the opportunity to define strategies, check points, evaluation guides, and mea-sure requirements that provide them with a higher probability of success. The comparison with similar studies in other world regions and in other economic zones and their cultural implications might also provide explanations, guidelines, and strategies for the managers of the enterprises. Some examples of initial guidelines for managers are as follows.

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5.2.1.1. Assuring top management support, commitment, and leadership. The first issue to resolve when deciding on the implementation of an ERP system is to make sure that the time and circumstances in the organization are highly adequate to assure a strong top management support for the project. Management should update its own computer information systems knowledge and at the same time it should create, and col-laborate with, an excellent work team composed of information systems and functional experts. Management has to define, from the beginning, the strategy that makes the lead-ership of the project visible and effective. These preparation activities relate to the first four CSF on the list resulting from this study: (a) top management support (position 1), (b) project Management (position 2), (c) teamwork composition for the ERP project (po-sition 3), and (d) Communication (po(po-sition 4). The importance of upper management commitment is reinforced in a study about the process of assimilating information tech-nology by end users in Mexico (Garc´ıa-S´anchez, 1997), whereby an evident and concrete enterprise management support was found significant in the end user decision process of using a new IT.

5.2.1.2. Keeping track of technical aspects. The manager in charge of the project should give much attention to important technical aspects and rely on his specialized and expert people to carry out this task. The important technical aspects include: the ERP system selection (position 6 in this study), having external consultants (position 7), equipment requirements, training and personnel support (position 8), and technical tests and problem solutions (position 12).

5.2.1.3. Analyzing results in other world regions. Referring to studies and results in other world regions, the manager should also consider the significant CSFs in those other places or economic zones such as the traditional legacy systems, interdepartmental cooperation, and, most importantly, the formulation of clear business vision and objectives. The last ones will make the investment decision for the project easier and proper.

5.2.1.4. Monitoring important preconditions. The responsible manager should also attend to some important preconditions for the implementation, which were indicated in the results of this study and studies in other world regions. They are as follows: (a) to design and establish an effective, comprehensive and clear project management (position 2 in this study) and (b) to assure that the required business process reengineering will be performed (position 5 in this study).

5.2.1.5. Managing change resistance. The process of planning and managing the change and of solving the elements of change resistance (position 11 in this study), user involvement (position 10), and the development of project champions (position 9) are also important aspects that the manager should look after and support from project inception throughout its project life.

5.2.1.6. Other implications for the managers. We propose grouping the 14 CFSs in a simpler structure defined according to management tasks. The groups are labeled as follows:

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• Human Factors

• Technological Factors

• Organizational Factors

We assign the 14 CSFs to groups as follows (the position number in this study appears in parenthesis):

Human Factors:

• Teamwork composition (3)

• Communication (4)

• Project Champion (9)

• End users involvement (10)

Technological Factors:

• Project management (2)

• ERP system selection (6)

• Training and support for users (8)

• Tests and problem solution (12)

• To facilitate changes in the organizational structure, in the

• “legacy systems” and in the IT infrastructure (13)

Organizational Factors:

• Top management support (1)

• Business process reengineering (5)

• Having External Consultants (7)

• Change Management Plan (11)

• Vision statement and adequate business plan (14)

This structure enables the manager and the whole organization to address efforts and resources in their decisions to achieve the best-integrated result according to the available resources of the enterprise. For example, if it is detected that the organization is weak with respect to one group (say Human Factors), then it could emphasize its strategies, efforts, and actions for the reinforcement of that section looking for an adequate balance with the other two groups or sections.

5.2.2 Implications for Computer Information Systems and Information Technology Researchers. This study provides a framework for an enterprise in the important IS problem situation of ERP implementation. This situation will become more relevant in the future because almost every enterprise (regardless of size or activity sec-tor) will require the integrated management of all its functions and information processes provided by an ERP system. It is important that the enterprise satisfy this requirement to be competitive. Because an ERP system is a solution with a large and important scope, it involves transcendental changes throughout the enterprise; as a result, a complex interaction of variables takes place in the enterprise scenario. To start looking for solutions, the first step is to identify the basic ERP implementation problems and their relevance. This study

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contributes to the latter objective and, at the same time, it establishes a departure point for future studies, methodologies, and solutions to this problem in Latin America.

6. LIMITATIONS IN THIS STUDY This study has the following limitations:

• The sample was not selected in a random way. As was already mentioned, there are no documents or catalogues for the region or country that register the enterprises that have implemented an ERP system. This complicates a random selection. Another problem is that enterprises in Mexico, including transnational ones, are not used to answering these kinds of questionnaires. The replies take a long time or never arrive.

• In the sample, there is a mixture of medium and large enterprises (69% medium enterprises and 31% large enterprises). This happened because of the convenience sample. Future studies could differentiate enterprises by size and industrial sector.

• The sample mostly consisted of enterprises having a successful implementation pro-cess. We could not follow the final results for all the enterprises, but we estimate that 86% of ERP implementations of respondent firms are or will be successful.

7. FUTURE RESEARCH

Building from the results of this research, future research work can have more concrete and specific focuses. It could analyze problems from the perspective of such disciplines as strate-gic planning, project management, business process reengineering as well as performance, compatibility, and usability evaluation metrics for ERP software. It is recommended for any future research in this subject to assure the support and collaboration of the enterprises and managers for the project. The CSF in the present study’s first position of importance “top management support” suggests the following series of future studies looking for an analysis or treatment of this factor from different concepts and perspectives:

• Organization and management culture in computer information systems

• The manager in front of the information technology and its fast evolution

• Leadership in IT projects and organizational learning in front of the technological change

• Computer information systems projects evaluation considering the true and most significant value of the IT

With respect to all the CSFs, we propose research work in (a) metrics for performance, functionality, and usability evaluation of ERP systems and (b) techniques and methodolo-gies for change management in ERP projects.

Future research should provide managers with frameworks for convenient actions as well as with best practices for the process of effective integration and significant and full exploitation of the information technology resource in their enterprises. Thus, they will contribute in a significant way to their enterprise’s survival and competitiveness.

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APPENDIX

Types of Enterprises

Type and Size of Enterprises (Number of Employees) Economic Sector Micro Small Medium Large Agricultural 0–10 11–50 51–250 More than 250 Mining and Petroleum 0–10 11–50 51–250 More than 250 Manufacturing 0–10 11–50 51–250 More than 250 Construction 0–10 11–50 51–250 More than 250

Commerce 0–10 11–30 31–100 More than 100

Transportation & 0–10 11–50 51–100 More than 100 Communications

Services 0–10 11–50 51–100 More than 100

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Dr. No´e Garc´ıa-S´anchezhas a PhD in Systems Engineering from the University of Nuevo Leon in Mexico, an Organizational Information Systems Master’s Degree from Paris-Dauphine Univer-sity in France, and an Industrial Systems Engineering undergraduate degree from the UniverUniver-sity of Nuevo Leon. His research interests are Innovation Management, New IT Assimilation in Organiza-tions, Change Management, ERP Systems Implementation, Business Intelligence, Business Process Reengineering, Business Process Simulation, and IT for SME.

Luis E. P´erez Bernalhas a Master’s Degree in Information Systems from the ITESO University in Jalisco, Mexico. His research interests are ERP Systems Implementation and Network Management.

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