Implementing Enterprise Resource Planning Systems: The Role of Learning from Failure
ERP implementations remain problematic despite the fact that many of the issues are by now quite well known. In this paper, we take a different perspective from the critical success factors and risks approaches that are common in the information systems discipline to explain why ERP implementations fail. Specifically, we adapt Sitkin's theory of intelligent failure to ERP implementations resulting in a theory that we call “learning from failure.” We then examine from the viewpoint of this theory the details of two SAP R/3 implementations, one of which failed while the other succeeded. Although it is impossible to state, unequivocally, that the implementation that failed did so because it did not use the approach that was derived from the theory, the analysis reveals that the company that followed many of the tenets of the theory succeeded while the other did not.