In-house development as an alternative for ERP adoption by SMEs: A critical case study


ERP systems are increasingly accessible to small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs). If the

potential benefits of these systems are significant, the same applies to the risk associated with their

implementation. The majority of ERP studies relate to software packages supplied by large vendors

such as SAP and Oracle and by smaller vendors; but until now, few have studied the adoption of ERP

systems developed “in-house”. Furthermore, few studies have explicitly focused on minimizing the

risk of these systems at the adoption or pre-implementation stage. Presenting a critical case study

which analyzes the adoption of an in-house ERP by a SME in the agri-food industry, this article

proposes and tests a process framework of ERP systems adoption, based upon a literature review and

a conceptual framework centered on risk minimization. The study shows that 1) in-house ERP seems

to represent a credible alternative for ERP adoption by SMEs, 2) to minimize risk at the adoption

stage, a SME can proceed in a rather intuitive and unstructured manner, based however upon certain

principles, policies and practices. The successful ERP implementation in this case indicates that it is

not always necessary to resort to formalized project management in order to minimize implementation


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