Q&A: The Fundamentals of ERP Success

  • by David Hannon, Contributing Editor
  • November 16, 2010
Albert H. Segars is the faculty director of the Center for Sustainable Enterprise, an RBC Bank Distinguished Professor, and the Chair of Strategy and Entrepreneurship at the Kenan-Flagler Business School at The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. For the past six years, he’s studied dozens of ERP implementations as an academic and consultant. We recently spoke with Segars to gather his advice on what makes and breaks an ERP implementation.

Although every ERP implementation is different, a number of characteristics and best practices are common to many successful implementations. Albert Segars has consulted with firms such as Bank of America and Apple on using technology and ERP systems to drive business improvements. As a University of North Carolina business school professor, he’s researched projects and documented and translated them into courses such as “Differentiation Through Technology and Business Innovation.”

Based on your research and experience, what are the most common traits among companies that have the most successful ERP implementations? And what are the common traits of the unsuccessful ones?

Ironically, companies that have a “history of success” find it much harder to implement ERP programs because there is no driving sense of urgency to make changes in process and technology. In contrast, companies that have less of a legacy can change faster. Companies need the right amount of process discipline to make ERP work. Too much process discipline invites firms to optimize processes locally thereby sub-optimizing a global process. Too little process discipline results in rising costs as consultants and integrators attempt to map and define process.


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