The report presents a case study comparing thirteen industrial organizations, which applied the ERP (enterprise resource planning) system. Using theoretical analysis of organizational change put forward by Van de Ven and Poole, the firms were compared on the basis of their dialectic learning process that involved forces encouraging and discouraging change. The organizations were to overcome two categories of knowledge barriers: the first related to the configuration of the ERP package, while the other was allied to the incorporation of new work processes.
The outcome of the study revealed that both the strong core teams as well as the carefully managed consulting associations helped to address configuration language barriers. Firms were able to overcome assimilation knowledge barriers through the application of user training with technical and business processes together with phased implementation approach. While contrasting on company antecedents, processes and outcomes, it came out that making systems “Y2K compliant” was the leading motivator for the organizations to pursue ERP. Other motivators included legacy system replacement, process reengineering initiative, integration/consolidation of multiple sites or operations, support of growth or acquisitions, improvement in reporting and decision-making, and regulatory compliance.
Grouping the organizations on the basis of outcome was challenging given that many of them were adjusting from the implementation process. The organizations in the study expressed concerns about assimilation knowledge barriers, which led to two approaches aimed at addressing them. The first approach, known as piecemeal, needed the organizations to concentrate on technology primarily and then later on process changes, whereas the second approach, concerted, needed the companies to utilize both the technology and process changes concurrently. There were different learning challenges that the companies experienced from the application of these approaches. In the end, there were mixed responses, with many firms preferring either approach, all of the organizations were seen to engage in practices that reflected a combination of these approaches.