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Abstract

Whereas previous research provides a number of accounts of failure prone enterprise system (ES) implementations, empirical evidence of the re-implementation of an accounting system in a Scandinavian high-tech company shows how the system became highly integrated, accepted by its users, and well-aligned to the work processes. To learn from this case study, we investigate the interactive and dynamic relationships among the enterprise system, people and institutional properties. We investigate the institutional structures and the sensemaking processes at play to identify how the idea of an efficient accounting system travelled from a national to a local level, how the system moved from being highly customized to becoming a standard package and how the users’ enactment of the system reinforced existing institutional practices. Based on the findings, we frame our contributions into five lessons learned: (1) An ES implementation entails mutual adaptations between the organization, human actors and enterprise system; (2) “small is beautiful” is almost a truism but may turn out to be an appropriate starting point; (3) a certain level of resilience is essential to cope with future upgrades and enhancements; (4) the recognition of professional identity and roles is vital for ES adaptation; and (5) first customizing and then un-customizing the ES may be a valuable approach towards integrating the system. We relate these lessons to ES adaptations in general in discussing the study’s contributions and implications.

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