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Learning from a failed ERP implementation: a case study research

C. Venugopal (Anna University, Chennai, India)
K. Suryaprakasa Rao (Anna University, Chennai, India)

International Journal of Managing Projects in Business

ISSN: 1753-8378

Article publication date: 13 September 2011




Enterprise resource planning (ERP) projects failing to meet user expectations is a cause for concern as it often leads to considerable time and money losses. The purpose of this paper is to understand the causal factors for such failures in the Indian context.


A scientific case study research methodology was followed. The unit of analysis: a failed ERP project followed by a successful one in the same organization. Data were collected through interviews, observation and study of archival documents. Analysis was methodical and validated through a triangulation approach.


The results suggest that it is the manner in which key critical success factors (CSFs) such as top management support are operationalized; good project management; a smaller scope and a hybrid approach of integrating the legacy system with the ERP that facilitates adoption and leads to a succesful implementation.

Research limitations/implications

The study extends the work of earlier researchers in a new market – India. It identifies important constructs, composites of existing CSFs, which future research could measure as ex ante predictors of ERP project success.

Practical implications

The authors offer several guidelines related to the role of top management, the importance of simplicity of scope, change management steps – all of which would help implementation teams better manage projects.


The two case methodology of a failed implementation followed by a successful one in the same organization is unique, in the Indian context. This is the closest to a controlled experiment one can have in case study research. The findings pave the way for the development of predictive instruments of ERP project outcomes.



Venugopal, C. and Suryaprakasa Rao, K. (2011), "Learning from a failed ERP implementation: a case study research", International Journal of Managing Projects in Business, Vol. 4 No. 4, pp. 596-615.



Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2011, Emerald Group Publishing Limited

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