ERP projects : an examination of the factors influencing additional unplanned effort in the project life-cycle

Master Thesis


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University of Cape Town

For over a decade, ERP systems have been the target of significant amounts of investment in organisations. Some have reaped the benefits anticipated while others struggle to achieve the required level of success. In fact, based on available statistics, numerous organisations have faced problems in keeping their allocated budget and time schedules on track often facing the threat of failure, escalation or significant redirection in their projects. As a result, organisations are seen to spend what can be termed as additional unplanned effort (AUE) in order to try and achieve a certain level of success given budget and time constraints. Using the concept called AUE, derived from topics such as ERP project success and failure, the ERP life-cycle framework and critical success factors (CSFs) relevant to the life-cycle phases, this study attempted to investigate the factors that influence AUE in the phases ofthe ERP life-cycle which in this study consist of the pre-implementation and implementation phases specifically. A sub-objective was also to investigate the possible influence that the presence of factors, responsible for escalation of commitment (EoC) in IT projects, have on AUE in ERP projects. Based on a qualitative mUltiple case-study of 5 ERP projects at different organisations, results showed that there are several factors that influence AUE in satisfying CSFs in each phase of the life-cycle. Particularly, in the pre-implementation phase, factors such as the justification for ERP adoption, the formalisation of an ERP vision, the finalisation of an ERP package choice, the stability of organisational structure, the organisation and flow of the acquisition process, the nature of market conditions and the type of internal and external partnership were found important in influencing AUE in that phase. In the implementation phase factors such as the formalisation of an implementation strategy, the management of organisational momentum and resistance to change, the maintenance of external partnership relationships, conditions external to the organisation, the nature of the organisation and the management of project factors were found important.

Includes bibliographical references (leaves 125-143).