The stark paradoxes in the evolution of ERP system acquisition and implementation practices.

Those who have witnessed the evolution of ERP system acquisition and implementation practices over the last few decades are invariably struck by a number of stark paradoxes.

On the one hand, industry seems to have learned so much during this time.  Our methods have changed beyond all recognition.  Almost universally, we embrace project management practices that twenty years ago were mostly confined to the aerospace and defense industries. Our collective experience is immensely greater than it was when most of the ERP products on the market today were first released.  Even our vocabulary has been transformed: we discuss risk management and project scope knowledgeably and in great detail, where most of us would have been hard pressed to even define these terms not very long ago.  And it seems to all of us that these have been changes for the better.

Yet, industry wide, our results remain inconsistent.  What remains constant is the continuing high rate of enterprise software, especially ERP, implementation failures. If we’ve learned so much – and we have learned so much – why are we still unable to consistently achieve the kind of success we routinely expect when undertaking other complex business ventures?  Why is implementing ERP statistically so much riskier than retooling a factory or developing a new product and introducing it to the marketplace?

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