Project Management: A Case Study of a Succesful ERP Implementation

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Fergal Carton, Frederic Adam and David Sammon
Business Information Systems, University College Cork, Cork, Ireland


Purpose – The success rate of enterprise resource planning (ERP) implementations is not high in
view of the sums invested by organisations in these applications. It has often been indicated that a
combination of inadequate preparedness and inappropriate project management have been
responsible for the low-success rate of ERP implementations. The purpose of this paper is to
present a case study of a successful ERP implementation.

Design/methodology/approach – In this paper, the authors use a case study of a very successful
roll out of an ERP application in the Irish subsidiary of a UK multinational to investigate the validity
of one of the most commonly cited project management frameworks, the project management body of
knowledge (PMBOK), to ERP projects. Discussing each category of the framework in turn, the case
data to illustrate where the PMBOK framework is a good fit or needs refining for ERP projects is used.
Findings – It is found that, by and large, PMBOK, because it is a very broad framework, can shed
light on most of the key aspects of an ERP project. However, the specificities of this type of project
require a different emphasis on some of the factors, as discussed in the authors conclusions. The case
analysis also raised some interesting insights into how companies evaluate the success of such highly
complex change management initiatives.

Research limitations/implications – This research work will need to be extended to cover other
case studies of ERP implementation across other industries and organisational contexts; for example
in less tightly regulated industries and smaller organisations.

Practical implications – This discussion will be of great value to ERP project managers who are in
the early stages of a project and need to understand and anticipate the areas which will require specific
attention on their part, based on their knowledge of the specific circumstances within their
organisational context.

Originality/value – This paper presents an investigation into the project management strategy
adopted in the Pharma Inc. case and illustrates the mechanics of a successful ERP project
implementation, categorised using the PMBOK framework.
Keywords Manufacturing resource planning, Project management
Paper type Case study

"The PMBOK is organised into nine knowledge areas that are considered
a subset of project management and describes the knowledge and practices in terms of
the component processes required to ensure a project is properly coordinated (PMI,
2000) such that the project:

. will satisfy the needs for which it was undertaken;

. will be successfully completed in a timely fashion and within the approved

. will make the most effective use of people involved;

. will have timely information provided;

. will avoid unnecessary risks; and

. will have the required external resources available.
The processes within each knowledge area interact with each"

Knowledge area Description of required processes

Project integration management:

Ensures that various elements of the project are properly coordinated

Project scope management:

Includes all of the work required, and only the work required, to complete the project successfully

Project time management:

Ensures timely completion of the project

Project cost management:

Ensures that the project is completed within the approved budget

Project quality management:

Ensures that the project will satisfy the needs for which it was undertaken

Project human resource management:

Makes the most effective use of people involved with the project

Project communications management:

Ensures timely and appropriate generation, collection, dissemination, storage, and ultimate
disposition of project information

Project risk management:

Is concerned with identifying, analysing, and responding to project risk

Project procurement management:

Involves acquiring goods and services from outside the performing organisation

Quotes from the Article:

"For example, the specification of requirements for ERP projects is often non-existent or applied retrospectively because organisations are hoping to acquire ready-made solutions that embody best practice that is directly applicable to them."

"According to the PMI, project management is the application of knowledge, skills, tools, and techniques to project activities in order to meet or exceed stakeholder needs and expectations from a project (PMI, 2000)."

"As a result, it is critical to the success of a project and the ability to address these competing demands that the organisation’s structure and approach to the management of projects is a match to the objectives of the ERP implementation."

"…a benchmark project it has considerable value in that it is perceived by all participants as being a notable success, both for the implementing subsidiary and for the parent company. Concretely this
means that the system went live as expected, on time and within budget, and that the project team were able to achieve a rapid ramp-up to full production volumes ahead of time (seven weeks instead of the predicted nine weeks after go-live)."

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