Computer Science

© HEC Montréal 2010

All rights reserved for all countries. Any translation or alteration in any form whatsoever is prohibited.

The International Journal of Case Studies in Management is published on-line (www.hec.ca/revuedecas/en), ISSN 1911-2599.

This case is intended to be used as the framework for an educational discussion and does not imply any judgement on the

administrative situation presented. Deposited under the number 9 65 2010 011 with the HEC Montréal Centre for Case Studies,

3000, chemin de la Côte-Sainte-Catherine, Montréal (Québec) Canada H3T 2A7.

Volume 4 Issue 1

March 2006

An ERP Story:1 Troubles Ahead (C)2, 3

Case prepared by Professors Carmen BERNIER 4 and Vital ROY,

5 as well as

Éric BRUNELLE 6

Troubles Ahead

After choosing the candidate with the most experience with the ABC software package, the

Integrated Management System and Processes (IMSP) project at ABS Canada is launched.

Within weeks, however, unexpected difficulties gradually begin to arise. The project manager’s

first action is to establish an action plan with the IT department based on specific deliverables.

But this plan immediately creates controversy because several members from functional

departments, particularly finance and accounting, feel excluded from the outset. As a

representative from the finance department explains:

I know that this project is very important for the company, but I am convinced that ABS will lose out

in the end if we insist on delivering a product that doesn’t address our main problem, which is finding

better ways of working.

Later on, the project manager bluntly informs users that their business processes will soon be

turned upside down to allow the company to adapt to the system. A representative of the users

involved in the project has this complaint:

The only thing that matters to him is that we respect delivery times. He doesn’t take into account

personal considerations. Regardless of whether or not the needs of users are being met optimally, the

project manager insists on focusing on the technical implementation of ABC.

Several of the managers responsible for functions affected by the project feel that the project

manager is focusing his efforts on ensuring that the tasks of the project plan are executed as

quickly as possible, without showing any real concern for business processes. Moreover, team

1 This case was produced with the support of the Programme de parrainage professoral CGI and the Fonds de développement

pédagogique HEC. The authors would like to thank the evaluators for their valuable comments.

2 Translation from French of “Histoire d’ERP : difficultés à l’horizon (C),” case deposited under number 9 65 2006 007.

3 This project was made possible thanks to funding from the CGI Professorship.

4 Carmen Bernier is an Associate Professor and Director of the Department of Information Technologies at HEC Montréal.

5 Vital Roy is an Associate Professor in the Department of Information Technologies at HEC Montréal.

6 We wish to thank Jean-François Jutras for his collaboration in the writing and layout of the text.

An ERP Story: Troubles Ahead (C)

Copyright © HEC Montréal 2

members do not appreciate the project management style. “I’m discouraged and I feel paralyzed

in my work because I am constantly writing progress reports,” explains one member of the team.

After three months, the managers responsible for the functions affected by the project confirm

that the project manager has gotten swept up in political games that have prompted him to favour

ABS’s IT group.

These managers are beginning to think that ABC may be the wrong choice since it does not meet

their needs and the credibility of the IT department is being put to the test, including

Mr. Roberge. Despite this, the ABC experts have reiterated their message to function managers

and management that the many R/3 configuration options in addition to changes in the

company’s processes can have a significant impact on the evolution of business practices and

efficiency at ABS. A confrontation between the user groups and the IT function seems inevitable.

Mr. Roberge knows full well that this situation is jeopardizing the project. He also thinks that the

current project leader is not effectively managing the various dimensions of the project. Faced

with this situation, he is feeling a great deal of pressure from management at ABS. He decides to

take the weekend to evaluate the situation and decide on the future of the project.

Questions

1. Offer your own analysis of the situation to Mr. Roberge to help him pinpoint the main causes of the difficulties of the project.

2. What should Mr. Roberge do now? Propose two possible solutions and present their respective advantages and disadvantages.

2010-06-14

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