Project Management in

Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP)



Bundit Wonglikphai




            Enterprise resource planning (ERP) systems are commercial software systems


that can be defined as customizable, standard application software which integrates


business solutions for the core processes (e.g. product planning and control, warehouse


management) and the main administration function (e.g. accounting, human resource


management) of an enterprise. [1]

Why ERP is so important

Enterprise Resource Planning provides many benefits to business such as

1.  Enhance productivity, flexibility and customer responsiveness

By integrated core business processes together in one single application, it helps

company maximize the efficiency of business process across the entire

organization. Plant manufacturing can produces product faster. Increase on time delivery,

Increase productivity, Increase ability to forecast demand to supplies, Increase order

capacity, and improve customer service (Customer Relationship Management (CRM)).

2.  Eliminate costs and inefficiencies                                       

Using an ERP system to standardize business processes can dramatically improve

company’s operation. ERP enable company to manage relationship with vendor results in

lower cost for purchased items. Better resource management results in more

inventory turns and decrease the level of inefficiencies. [9]


3.  Data consistency

Because an ERP system integrates all business management functions, it

decreases level of inconsistency information from different systems. Thus, by

using ERP system, managers can gather correct information and make a right decision.

4.  Extend your business using the Internet

By integrating all business functions together in one system, it increases ability of

a company to use internet as part of the business strategy. Web-enabled technology

allows you to access information, sell product, run business processes, and communicate

with customers and partners at any time and from anywhere in the world. [2]

Project Management is the application of knowledge, skills, tools and

techniques to a broad range of activities in order to meet the requirements of the

particular project. A project is a temporary endeavor undertaken to achieve a particular

aim. Project management knowledge and practices are best described in terms of their

component processes. These processes can be placed into four Process Groups: Initiating,

Planning, Executing, and Closing. – and nine Knowledge Areas that are: [3]


Why project management is so important in ERP implementation?

            Because ERP project generally is a big and complexity project. It requires a lot of

resource such as time, human resource, budget etc.  Even though, a company has all of

the resource to implement the project, there are many factors that can lead to project

failure such as corporate culture, user resistant to change commitment from top

management etc. From “The Robbins-Giola Survey (2001)” 51 % of surveyed companies

viewed their implementation as unsuccessful. [10] An example of company failure was

Nestle. Nestle spent $200 millions contact with SAP and an additional $80 million for

consulting and maintenance, but at last the implementation was fail. [11]

Consequently, by having good project management can help to minimize risk for

project to fail and may help to reduce the chance for delaying and over budget

which are big problems in ERP project implementation.

Conceptual Components of ERP

            Before we begin to implement ERP system, we should to understand the high

concept or ERP model.

The ERP model is consists of four components which are implemented through a

methodology. All four components are

1. The software component is the component that is most visible part and seen as

the ERP Product which is not true. It consists of several modules such as Finance, Human

resource, Supply chain management, supplier relationship management, customer

relationship, and business intelligent.

2. Process Flow is the model that illustrates the way how information flows

among the different modules within an ERP system. By creating this model makes it

easier to understand how ERP work. (See example of Process Flow diagram Appendix 1)

3. Customer mindset By implementing ERP system, the old ways for working

which user understand and comfortable with have to be changed and may lead to users’

resistance. Employee-raised facts, beliefs, and values are good indicators of what may

cause their resistance to change. For example, some users may say that they have spent

many years doing an excellence job without help from ERP system. [7] This is the value

and belief that users have toward new ERP system. In order to lead ERP implementation

to succeed, the company need to eliminate this kind of negative value or belief that users

have toward new system. At Pratt & Whitney Canada, top management not only provide

the resource, but they also formulated a clear vision of goals that they wished to achieve

from the project. By doing so, it helped to guide employee expectations the benefits of

new system. [20]

4. Change Management In ERP implementation, Change needs to be managed at

several levels

            4.1 User attitude Resistance to change is a big problem that can lead to

project failure. If the company need to success in implementing new system, users need

to be understand what the new system is and give a commitment to new system. By doing

so, a company need to have a good management plan and implementation.

            4.2 Business process changes when new system is implements, the

business processes are also changed (Legacy systems are removed). Thus, a company

should have a plan for these changes. [22]

ERP methodology refers to a systematic approach to implement an ERP system

that will ensure the proper integration of the four components. We can refer ERP

methodology to Project life cycle.




  Project Life Cycle in ERP implementation


            In project life cycle, there are four stages that a company should to follow.

1.      Project Concept/Initiation This stage determines the scope of development. If this stage is not performed well; it is unlikely that the project will be successful in meeting the business’s needs. The key project controls needed here is an understanding of the business environment and making sure that all necessary controls are incorporated into the project (By using BPR (Business Process Reengineering) [16]. Any deficiencies should be reported and a recommendation should be made to fix them. Project Manager, Project governance, and core project team also have been assigned in this stage.[17]

2.      Project Planning in this stage of ERP implementation,  Project management includes finalizing the detailed planning process and requirements (Technology, Hardware, Software, Data, and Functionality [5]) which involves finalizing the project scope, schedule, resource requirements, quality and risk concerns, plus any organizational (e.g., centralization versus decentralization) issues. This stage should produce a request for proposal (RFP) to be sent to potential vendors. When sending out the RFP, project planners should address an evaluative scheme for comparing and ranking vendor responses such as a weighted scoring approach. It would include factors each vendor's product are to be evaluated against and their relative weights. Generally, scoring is completed after all RFP responses have been received. [8]

3.      Project Execution in this stage vendor has been selected and planning proceeds for swapping software previously used with the new ERP package. The most important issue in this phase is to ensure project activities are properly executed and controlled. During the execution phase, the planned solution is implemented to solve the problem specified in the project's requirements [18]. The execution stage includes the actual implementation of the design or plan. In software systems, this includes conversion (transfer of data from an old system to a new system), documentation, and training. Training is also important because it helps users use the software correctly. The bulk of the project's work and largest capital expenditure is realized in this stage.

4.      Project Closure The final stage of the ERP implementation project-- closeout/operation and maintenance-includes carrying out the usual bug fixes, responding to enhancements that were not included in the original implementation, and preparing a final report. The report should include a critique of what went right and what went wrong over the life of the project so that lessons learned may be documented and incorporated into future projects.

Guideline for ERP implementations in Project management

-                Deciding on project scope The scope of an ERP project has several components. The ERP project team must decide which business processes will be included in the implementation and it should not be changed frequently which will affect other area and project timeline. The scope should be build to prevent “never ending project”.[13]

-     The Right Staff one of the major issues with any IT project is the staffing issue. Good technology staffs, particularly those with deep ERP experience are extremely hard to find. Since it's difficult to transition ERP team members on and off projects thus by lower rate of turnover is importance.

-     Preventing Drain Brain   the company has to be ensuring that knowledge is still be in the company while consultants have left.  By letting the consultants and corporate staff worked side-by-side throughout the implementation.

-   Project scheduling the project manager should to manage a good time line that can maximize efficiency of resource.

-  Monitor Progress The success criteria should be clearly defined in the procedures, methods, and techniques that are part of a high quality project control system. Standards and techniques for measuring the quality of performance expected from the new system should be defined early, and redefined as needed over the life of the project.

Three most common mistakes of ERP Implementation

Focusing on Technology There is no evidence anywhere in the history of IT that software alone will solve a business problem. [23]

Ignoring the importance of requirement definition many companies try to adopt ERP system which doesn’t fit to business requirement which generally lead to project failure.

Jumping from the Requirement definition to the development phase Most of projects have to delivery the system in the timeline, thus they may skip some important implementation steps. For example, Project manager may skip the change manage process which may create users’ resistance to new system and lead to project failure.


          Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) can provide a lot of benefits to organization such as lower cost, increase level of data consistency, enable different departments such as Marketing, Distribution, and Manufacturing etc. to share information together, increasing ability to do e-business. Even though, ERP can provide many benefits, it also can lead to tragedy in implementation because of complexity to implement, time consuming, requiring a lot resource such as money, human resource, hardware, and software. Not only resource that is needed, but the commitment from top management and users also. All of these requirements can lead to project failure easily as we can see that 51% of project fail rate. 

            Consequently, Project Management is very important in ERP implementation. In order to manage project efficiency and reduce the risk for project failure, a company needs to know the high level concept, components of ERP, and the project life cycle. However, by knowing the high level concepts, components of ERP and project life cycle is not enough. As describe earlier, ERP implementation is such a complexity project. Thus, we need to have some guideline and avoid the common mistakes that help project manager to prevent an unexpected outcome and well prepare for the unexpected events.





Appendix 1 [22]



1. Mei-Yeh Fang and Dr.Fengyi Lin, “Measuring the Performance of ERP System – from the Balanced Scorecard Perspectives” The journal of American Academy of Business, Cambridge, Vol. 10 No 1, Sep 2006, pp.256-263.



4. Frederic Adam, David Sammon, and Fergal Carton, “Project Management Issues in Implementing ERP – Towards an Approach more Suited to ERP Projects” University College Cork.



7. Adel M.adwani, “Change management strategies for successful ERP implementation”, Business Process Management Journal, Vol. 7 No 3, 2001, pp.266-275.


9. Neville Turbit, “ERP Implementation – The Traps






15. Rosio Alvarez and Jacqueline Urla, “Tell Me a Good Story: Using Analysis to Examine Information Requirements Interview during an ERP Implementation”, The DATA BASE for advances in Information Systems , Vol.33 No 1, winter 2002, pp.38-52.

16. August Wilhelm Scheer and Frank Habermann, “Making ERP A Success”, Communications of the ACM, Vol.43 No. 4, April 2000, pp.57-61.

17. Project Management Framework, the Ohio State University



20. Alice Hsu, “Manage Your Way to ERP Implementation Success!”


22. Carl Marnewick and Lessing Labuschagne, “A Conceptual Model for Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP)”, Information Management and Computer Security”, Vol.13, 2005, pp. 144. 

23. Berg Tom, Light Matt, “The Project Office, Processes and Tools”, Gartner Group Research, 2000