Free Essay: The Impact of Team Competence and Composition on ERP Implementation Success

Published: 2022-03-31
Free Essay: The Impact of Team Competence and Composition on ERP Implementation Success
Type of paper:  Dissertation hypothesis
Categories:  Human resources
Pages: 7
Wordcount: 1754 words
15 min read

A majority of Enterprise resource planning (ERP) projects implementation brood failures and overruns. A report by Standish Group records an astounding 75 percent ERP projects as failures, notes that 52.7 percent of such undertakings surpass their original budget by 189 percent, and forecasts that the percentage of those whose cancellation is inevitable are 31.1(Clancy, 2014). These patterns show that many organizations pay dismal attention to many sources delving into how to implement ERP projects successfully. Perhaps this is because many scholars including Olugbara, Kalema, and Kekwaletswe (2014) merely enlist the success factors without in-depth discussion. In this study, we interrogate existing literature to define *team competence and composition* and present how it contributes to the outcome of project implementation. Efficient utilization of team competence and structure can guarantee the successful implementation of an ERP project.

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Defining Team Competence and Composition

Even though the literature identifying team competence and composition as a success factor for ERP system implementation is significantly broad, few studies pay due attention to defining it. This scantiness informs the indirect route this research takes to contextualize any definition that may exist thus far. Scholarly evidence shows that "competence" means "explicit measures, indicators, or statements that define specific areas of knowledge, skills, and abilities related to essential functions and assigned duties within a job role" (Braven, 2016, p. 222). Composition, in this context implies the identification of persons with desired competencies and bringing them together in a functional team to manage all the resources of an organization using a system of an integrated software solution.

A different authorial perspective attaches a whole new meaning to team competence and composition by combining the distinct aspects of individual words that make up the term. Dezdar and Ainin (2011a) believe that team competence and composition exclusively refers to an "ERP team [comprising individuals who are experts in technology], understand the company and its business, fully involved, highly rewarded and committed and come from departments affected by the new ERP system" (p. 801). Accordingly, this study believes that Dezdar and Ainin's description is appropriate as it enumerates the ideals of what qualifies for viewing as team competence and composition.

How Team Competence and Composition Affect Implementation of ERP System

ERP system is extensively rooted in technology, which makes technological competence a necessary factor for success. A system of integrated software comes with an unpronounced complexity that renders it impermeable to individuals who lack extensive knowledge regarding the technology. According to Dezdar and Ainin (2011b), the success or failure of ERP implementation anchors on the high-tech expertise the entire team, inclusive of the project manager, possesses. If the leadership and the individual members of the group have the requisite skills, knowledge, abilities, and experience, then chances of successfully implementing an ERP system increases significantly. A "perfect" team composition, replete with the proficiencies the project needs is dauntingly challenging to form, and the management should recognize this as another factor for a desirable or undesirable project implementation outcome.

Developing a team that is sufficiently knowledgeable about the integrated software system the company seeks to implement to achieve a holistic outlook of the company is hardly tenable, but highly necessary. Installing an ERP system, which encompasses software development, testing, and troubleshooting, is no easy feat; it requires IT professionals. Unfortunately, even the highly qualified IT personnel can encounter challenges that compel them to consult other specialists. In fact, the speedily advancing technological world can easily render one's skills obsolete. Offering a plausible insight regarding this impasse, Ahmad, Haleem, and Syed (2013) proposed leveraging diversity to achieve a balanced team; members should come from different areas characterized by excellent business knowledge and IT skills. Multiple team formation bears more than the advantage of complementing the capabilities of each team member: scholars have established that it enhances, among other team functions, strategic thinking, problem-solving, and business analysis (Motwani et al., 2005 cited in Ahmad, Haleem, & Syed, 2013). It is worth acknowledging, however, that a team cannot be utterly self-sufficient.

Project team competencies and composition is indispensable for the successful implementation of any ERP system not only on account of what it is equipped and able to do but also by its consciousness to its inherent limitations. A competent manager understands the strengths and weaknesses of the team since the attainment of the desired outcome of hinges heavily on whether or not the team is aware of its inefficiencies and when to outsource expertise (Haas, 2010). Other researchers also believe that to achieve authentic technological and business proficiency necessary for project success; the ERP team has to consider being cross-functional as well as including external consultants and internal staff (Nah et al., 2003 cited in Dezdar & Ainin, 2011a). Thus, the project team's skills and knowledge are just as crucial as is consulting professionals from outside the company in areas that are essential for project success, but the team lacks proficiency.

An ERP project is merely a tool whose efficiency remains a factor of the users' understanding of the environment in which it is used and the goals to achieve. Enterprise resource planning system cannot just be employed in managing all company resources; it is capable of providing the needs of a company's different units in their entirety through integration of the organization's activities and divisions into one computer system (Dezdar & Ainin, 2011a). However, this integration is unfeasible if the team members do not know the business functions, the goals they are meant to help the enterprise attain, and how to keep the operations on track while enhancing attainability of the aims during the implementation of the system. In consistency with Ahmad, Haleem, and Syed's (2013) findings, the team must thus ensure everyone has a nuanced understanding of the company and its business requirements to utilize the system as necessary to realize desired company objectives.

Up to this end, it is apparent that project management activities are directly related to success or failure of the ERP implementation. Coordination of these managerial activities chiefly falls within the jurisdiction of a team leader. In a research by Dezdar and Ainin (2011c), the authors identify five critical functions that result in ERP system implementation success should the team leader perform them efficiently. These include: 1) establishing and monitoring scope; 2) evaluating any need to expand scope; 3) assessing proposed modifications; 4) describing duties; 5) defining and developing project milestones; 6) enforcing project deadlines; as well as 7) coordinating project activities. An ERP project team, therefore, needs to comprise a capable leader who understands that better project management activities yield better implementation results and vice versa.

When speaking of team competence and composition, it is vital to recognize the place of experience and how it contributes to ERP project success. An experienced team can excel in implementing an ERP project because they have imbibed industry trends and how to handle intricacies over a long time. Raja (2016) believes that efficient coordination can act as a medium for diffusing this experience throughout the organization thus helping organizations and managers interested in adopting ERP systems understand complications characterizing ERP installations. This knowledge boosts proactivity and can assist in avoiding pitfalls and in turn enhance chances of realizing intended goals.

The success of any project requires awareness creation not only among professionals who will be implementing it but also those whom it is meant to benefit. ERP systems are phenomenally comprehensive; they can unify all enterprise functions into a single computer program. Apparently, the systems will, upon successful installation, inevitably affect all employees in all departments, in addition to customers. An appropriately composed ERP project team will communicate the development throughout the company in understandable terms (benefit of practical communication skills), and train end users on how to reap the most out of the technology. As Dezdar and Ainin (2011c) sum it, an ERP project succeeds in the presence of a champion who will guide the entire organization through the tricky road of change, expedite, and market the project to all users to solicit their support.

The project team can also leverage training to promote the success of the ERP system implementation. ERP project team is only a subset of company employees who will be handling the technical aspects of the projects; however, there are the majority users who will need to operate the system on the day to day business operations. When the daily activities are successful then the benefits of the technology will be visible, something that is only achievable by educating users to help them gain essential skills to operate the new technology. Ability to operate the ERP technology perfectly stimulates users' satisfaction, thus ultimately influencing the implementation success (Dezdar & Ainin, 2011b).

A competent ERP project management team can help the company minimize the negative impact of change resistance and enable the company transition smoothly. Resistance to change is not a new phenomenon in the business concept. Every organization that desires to remain relevant in today's business environment where cutthroat competition is the order of the day must shelve complacency and implement change that enhances efficiency. Nevertheless, any factor that is likely to affect the status quo is never celebrated. In fact, organizational changes involving new technology often attract massive resistance. This opposition to modifications may delay the project or attract budget overruns during the implementation process thus costing the company undesirably. In the worst case scenario, it may render it impossible to achieve the goals of the project; total failure may painfully cause the company its future. A skilled ERP project team is ascertained to promote enterprise-wide communication, adhere to deadlines, and maintain vendor and end-user support needed for ERP system success (Danzer & Ainin, 2011a).

An ERP project team has only one goal in the company - to successfully install the system. Solely focusing on the project has significant implications for the ERP project. In the view of many scholars, ERP project team should be full-time employees who exclusively focus on the project as their top priority (ibid.). Ability to pay full attention positively impacts the project; team members can conduct extensive research and consistently contribute their parts of the project until it is complete. Additionally, Ahmad, Haleem, and Syed (2013) insist that the team should comprise individuals drawn from the departments that the new ERP system affects. This strategy helps the company garner employee support in one hand while also enabling the project team to design the system in a manner that resonates perfectly with the needs of the divisions for the success of the entire organization.

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