Ontological Analysis of An ERP Implementation Success and Education: A Critical System Thinking Approach

Ontological Analysis of An ERP Implementation Success and Education: A Critical System Thinking Approach

Patrick Offor (City University of Seattle, Seattle, USA) and Simon Cleveland (City University of Seattle, Seattle, USA)
Copyright: © 2018 |Pages: 16
DOI: 10.4018/IJSEUS.2018070105
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Enterprise resource planning (ERP) implementations are plagued by high failure rates. Extant literature has proposed a myriad of critical success factors that contribute to successful ERP implementations, but there is still a gap in understanding the interaction of the complex internal subsystems that play a role in such successes. This study presents an ontological analysis of several subsystems and their interaction at the GCSS-Army ERP implementation. It leverages the system thinking theory and a novel analogous example to explain the interactions and properties of these subsystems.
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People And Process Factors

This study examines the implementation of the Global Combat Support System-Army (GCSS-Army) ERP. This ERP was intended to subsume the US Army legacy logistics systems and was designed to integrate retail and tactical supply, maintenance, and finance. The benefits of this ERP implementation resulted in cost savings derived from a change from the multiple silo-centric systems to a single ERP, increased asset accountability, auditability, visibility, traceability, and broad scale system availability.

The critical system thinking approach (CST) is concerned with how the subsystems of a system interact rationally with each other for common and purposeful objectives (Flood & Romm, 1996). What follows is an in-depth review of key factors, people and processes, examined through the prism of CST as a single entity labeled the development system.


The first component of this development system is the people (Hofkirchner & Rousseau, 2015). The three major stakeholders involved in the project included the US Army Combined Arms Support Command (USACASCOM), the Army Enterprise Systems Integration Program (AESIP)—the Product Management Office (PMO), and the lead system integrator (LSI)—Northrop Grumman Corporation. The USACASCOM represented the users and was responsible for providing the functional requirements. The product manager in the PMO was responsible for the management of the scope, cost, and scheduling for the ERP implementation. The LSI was responsible for the development of the ERP system.

A significant relationship between the cohesiveness of the stakeholders and the efficacy of the ERP system existed during the implementation. For example, USACASCOM exercised its development responsibilities through a directorate and embedded its own capability developers with the PMO and the LSI.

The product manager (PdM) at the PMO acted as the project sponsor’s representative whose primary responsibilities included the management of the ERP project’s scope, cost, and scheduling. The PdM ensured that the prescribed and projected development, fielding, and sustainment plans were executed as scoped, were within the budgetary plans, and were completed on time. Moreover, the PdM worked with the USACASCOM and the LSI to maintain a timely rollout of the capabilities and the changes therein.

Finally, LSI was contracted to develop the enterprise system and was responsible for delivering the components of the ERP within the specified project plan. Their representatives provided invaluable consulting as the developer’s subject matter experts.

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