n Management Dynamics : Journal of the Southern African Institute for Management Scientists - When a sure thing goes awry : implementing an Enterprise System at IST Ltd.

Volume 17, Issue 2
  • ISSN : 1019-567X



An Enterprise System (ES) is a type of information technology system that integrates all necessary business functions in an organisation into a single integrated system with a single shared database. Despite the widespread take-up of ES systems, they are notoriously difficult to implement. There are, as a result, any number of prescriptions in the literature for a successful ES implementation. The question that remains, however, is why projects continue to be mismanaged, when the risk factors are well-documented, and the technology itself should, after 15-20 years of practice, be maturing.

The answer, according to some researchers, lies not only in the content of the software or even the project management process, but rather in the context in which the project takes place. In order to explore the notion that context may affect an ES implementation, this study discusses a case in which contextual issues were critical. The research question guiding the case study is therefore "How, if at all, did the context of this particular company affect the implementation of the ES?" The case in question is that of a small-capitalisation South African company facing ongoing and emerging organisational complexity.

The case history is provided in some detail, followed by a discussion which links the case to the literature in order to provide specific lessons for managers who may be considering, or be involved in, an ES implementation. The lessons that emerge are that the context may affect the evaluation process, the timing of the implementation, and the user acceptance of the system. Interpreting how the specific organisational context might affect a project in any particular situation, and managing project risk appropriately, is the essential management task of an ES implementation.

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