Human Factors That Lead Successful Implementations of ERP Systems: Guidelines for IT Project Managers of Higher Education Institutions

Human Factors That Lead Successful Implementations of ERP Systems: Guidelines for IT Project Managers of Higher Education Institutions

Gabriela Gerón-Piñón (University of Monterrey, Mexico), Pedro Solana-González (University of Cantabria, Spain), Sara Trigueros-Preciado (University of Cantabria, Spain) and Daniel Pérez-González (University of Cantabria, Spain)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-7998-1279-1.ch020


Although Latin America has exhibited lately the largest growth in terms of ERP adoption rate worldwide, there is a gap in the literature focused in examining the success and underlying causes of such adoptions. After an extensive literature review, the authors found little evidence of studies oriented to the study of human factors in ERP projects in higher education institutions (HEIs) in the region, which is the aim of this study. It is known that the success of these projects is limited, and that the failure rate is high (between 60% and 90%). Therefore, it is worth identifying the human factors that may serve as reference for the HEIs that are planning to implement these systems. This work compiles the experiences of experts who have participated in projects at universities in Latin American countries, establishing a set of unique features and the specific factors to lead successful ERP projects.
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Higher Education Institutions (HEIs) in Latin America are facing the global trends that are affecting education: revenue pressure; austerity; accountability and outcomes; operation efficiency; education access and readiness; global learning; digital transformation; students’ higher expectations; and maintaining a relationship with the community among others. Latin America is an emerging, young and changing region. A recent report on higher education (Brunner & Miranda, 2016) shows the changing landscape and the speed with which this sector is changing in most of these countries where the number of students is over 24 million, that represents 11.5% of the student population worldwide.

In the region, there are currently about 11,000 institutions; 4,220 universities and 6,648 non-university higher education institutions (Brunner & Pedraja, 2017). In Latin America, expenditure for student (US$ 2,380) is lower than in developed countries. Private expenditure finances 50% of the total enrollment. Several countries have also relied extensively on private providers to meet the growing demand for higher education, resulting in massive expansion of the number of private HEIs (Segrera, 2010).

Because of the above conditions, Higher Education in Latin America has specific challenges, mainly as a result of the social and economic differences: institutions that previously had only one campus have expanded their operations in several countries; private education is predominant because public education does not meet the massive social demand; a severe reduction in government funding; limited scientific research; emergence of new interdisciplinary areas of knowledge that are replacing traditional curricula; and the rise of evaluation and accreditation mechanisms (Guajardo et al, 2018).

Following the example of large corporations, HEIs are continuously reviewing and improving their management and administration systems. The concerns HEIs face are similar to those of a wide range of organizations (Rabaaʼi, 2009). Without any doubt HEIs are involved in the current technology trends. Topics such as cloud computing, Software as a Service (SaaS), mobile technologies, analytics, among others, are on the daily agenda of Information Technologies (IT) areas. Although Latin America has exhibited lately the largest growth in terms of ERP adoption rate worldwide, there is a gap in the literature focused in examining the success and underlying causes of such adoptions there (Maldonado & Sierra, 2013).

The ERP systems are often the largest software application adopted by universities with significant amounts allocated to their implementation. The main aim of ERP implementation in universities is to provide schools and colleges with an increased ability for research and teaching at the reasonable and low cost. These multi-functional systems are designed to streamline almost every aspect of how institutions operate. Simply put, an ERP integrates institutional data and processes through one system. The benefits of an education ERP systems are: cost effective; better organization of data; data is secured; more automated administration; a quicker management process; and more focus on education (Rani, 2016).

Little research has been conducted about ERPs in a university environment, compared with other enterprise environments (ALdayel et al., 2011). The research on ERP system in HEIs is still limited and in the immature stage, hence little is known about the success factors for the adoption stage of ERP systems (Soliman & Karia, 2017). There is little evidence of studies focused in Latin America HEIs.

Jacobson et al. (2007) sustain that Latin America holds the largest compound annual growth rate in ERP spending (21%) at least until 2011. The lack of a more fully developed IT culture might explain the region’s lagging international competitiveness. Although ERP-based solutions also appear to be gaining acceptance among Latin America companies, in many cases such solutions are inadequate, because of the many obstacles preventing ERP from being implemented according to the needs of individual companies. Most of the firms in Latin America lack a formal organizational structure or even personnel qualified in specialized tasks required for IT (Maldonado & Sierra, 2013).

Key Terms in this Chapter

Cloud Computing: Paradigm that allows computer services to be offered over a network, allowing users and organizations to remotely use and access hardware and software across the Internet. From the user's point of view, a browser is used to connect to an application that the cloud service provider owns and maintains, and the user must pay for the use of certain services or functionalities.

ERP Implementation: Normally is viewed as stages of life-cycles with five phases: problem identification and motivation (define the specific problem and its value), definition objectives for an ERP solution (what is possible and feasible), design and development (new constructs and models), demonstration (how to support the use activity), and evaluation (how the system responds to the problem).

Higher Education Institutions (HEIs): Universities, colleges, and further education institutions offering and delivering higher education. Include traditional universities and professional-oriented institutions, which are called universities of applied sciences or polytechnics. An educational institution in any State that admits as regular students only persons having a certificate of graduation from a school providing secondary education and is legally authorized within such State to provide a program of education beyond secondary education; provides an educational program for which the institution awards a bachelor’s degree, or awards a degree that is acceptable for admission to a graduate or professional degree program, subject to review and approval by the Secretary; and is a public or other non-profit accredited institution.

Software as a Service (SaaS): Software distribution model in which all underlying infrastructure, middleware, software, and application data are located in the IT provider's data center, accessed via Internet from a client. SaaS allows users to connect and use cloud-based applications over the Internet, offering a software solution that is leased to a cloud service provider using a pay-for-use model.

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