An Investigation of Customization in ERP System Implementations Marcus

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IEEE TRANSACTIONS ON ENGINEERING MANAGEMENT, VOL. 56, NO. 4, NOVEMBER 2009 663 An Investigation of Customization in ERP System Implementations Marcus A. Rothenberger and Mark Srite Abstract—This research investigates why certain enterprise resource planning (ERP) system adopters have pursued high levels of software customization during implementation despite the generally accepted best-practice heuristic of limiting customization. Qualitative data from ERP adoption projects and consultants working with ERP implementations have been collected. This study empirically identifies customization drivers and explains their relationship to customization. The results suggest that high customization may occur because of: unnecessary…show more content…
Such decisions address the dilemma that all ERP adopters continuously face during the implementation: whether to change the business process to fit the ERP system or whether to change the ERP system to fit the business process. To minimize customization, the decision to change the ERP system should only be made in rare circumstances, e.g., when a business process cannot be changed without losing a competitive advantage. Furthermore, such decisions require cooperation between the information technology (IT) and the operational departments, following formal defined activities, which are part of a change management process. Thus, change management is instrumental to ERP implementation. In fact, it was listed as one of the top five factors in a study of chief information officer (CIO) perceptions of critical success factors for ERP projects [17]. The analysis of two implementation cases [7] confirms this notion as it identifies change management as one of the major success factors. The issue of management and employee readiness to implementing business process change is a common characteristic of successful implementations. In a case study of a failed SAP R/3 implementation [13], the absence of change management inhibited the broad involvement of employees in the implementation of business changes required for the successful adoption of the ERP system standard processes. The importance of business process reengineering and minimal customization was further confirmed
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