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Is classroom study key to successful ERP implementation?


The introduction of Information Technology, especially enterprise systems such as enterprise resource planning (ERP) systems, is a common way of implementing organizational change today. Such enterprise system implementations frequently come with new software systems and business processes that substantially alter workflow and jobs.

While the annual investment of several millions of rupees in ERP systems is staggering, estimates indicate that there could be chances of failures in implemented systems and such failures have been observed even in highly successful organizations. Organizations that successfully implement ERP systems, including new software and business processes, have reported enormous benefits, such as greater efficiency and effectiveness at the individual employee and organizational levels.

One of the primary causes of failure is the inability of managers to effectively manage the change process. Managers frequently fail to consider the organizational environment and culture relying, instead, on success stories of some organizations that used a big-bang strategy, an implementation strategy in which all modules of an ERP system are implemented simultaneously and in a short period time, to manage their own change. The result can be catastrophic for firms, with consequences up to and including going out of business as a result of a failed ERP implementation.

Given this backdrop, it is important to teach diverse aspects of ERP implementations to make today's information systems and business management curricula relevant to organizational practice. Yet, the effective integration of ERP related knowledge into curricula continues to be a challenge with some suggesting that relevant knowledge should be imparted in a wide range of classes. Of the many areas related to ERP systems, the ability of students to understand that different strategies of ERP implementation may be necessary in different scenarios is an important one, especially for those who may go on to manage such implementations.

A "one-medicine-does-not-cure-all-ailments" argument goes well with when it comes to ERP implementation strategies. Yet, mistakes and failures continue. Sorely needed is a teaching approach that can open the eyes of managers, present and future, to the different strategies to ERP success, and when a particular strategy is appropriate. With a good teaching approach with minimum three cases of examples could help the student identify the areas where a failure is bound to happen and may rectify it. It is also a must that each student is assigned to read only one of the three cases, lessening the total workload, but the students understand the differences in approaches and successes of ERP implementations related to all three cases...