Successful ERP system upgrade : Critical success factors and how different project members perceive them
Abstract: An Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) system implementation is a massive undertaking for any organization, and we have all heard about success and failure stories. This research study has identified the Critical Success Factors (CSF) after a successful ERP system upgrade at a pharmaceutical distribution company. The company of interest stores and distributes pharmaceuticals to pharmacies in Finland and Sweden. The company used an old version of the ERP system from 1999 that had been heavily modified over the years to cater for new regulations, business and customer requirements. The upgrade was a complete success, and the new version of the ERP system has been running without major issues ever since go-live in autumn 2016. The qualitative interpretive research was conducted by using two data collection methods, semi-structured interviews and card sorting to gather data from the participants. The participants were selected from the three (3) central roles in the project team to capture the perceived CSFs from several perspectives. The data was a subject for a thematic analysis process to generate codes, themes, and concepts within the extensive data set. The findings revealed that the reasons for the upgrade were the end of support for the ERP system, need for new features and to reduce platform dependency. The participants regarded a stable system after go-live with minimal impact on business and harm to customers as the primary definition of success. The ten (10) identified CSFs were; (1) Top management commitment and support, (2) Software analysis, testing and acceptance control, (3) Project team leadership, empowered decision makers, (4) Project management and (5) Strategy planning, scope and vision, (6) Involvement of end-users and stakeholders, (7) Data conversion and integrity, (8) Consultant selection and relationship, (9) Balanced team and (10) Project team: the best and brightest. Even though the ERP upgrade at the pharmaceutical distribution company was considered a success, there were several areas identified for improvements. The lessons learned was for example related to data quality and test data. The need to introduce new resources by learning from key resources before and during the ERP project. The project model and project organization were other areas that were identified for improvements to reduce administrative work and to obtain a better fit towards the company organization. Several similar ERP system upgrades and new implementations are planned the coming years, and the outcome of this thesis provides valuable guidelines and recommendations to the company. The research thesis will also contribute to the field of CSF analysis and ERP systems and offer suggestions for further research.
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