CIE selection and implementation of an ERP solution

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Kavanagh, Christopher
Issue Date
BA (Hons) in Business Information Management
Dublin Business School
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In 1996, CIE, the Semi-State body charged with providing Bus and Rail travel throughout the Republic of Ireland, had come to the conclusion that their legacy IT/IS systems were becoming obsolete and increasingly difficult to maintain. Some of the systems had been in place since the late sixties. This conclusion was reached with the help of a number of Consultant reports, commissioned by CIE, which looked at the Organisations business units and their needs. The final report, produced by Price Waterhouse Cooper Consultants (1996) was accepted by the CIE Board and as a follow on PWC was commissioned to produce a template for the requirements of a single system to replace the multitude of legacy systems operated by CIE. Once this process was complete, CIE looked for Tenders for both the actual system to meet their needs and for a firm to implement the system within CIE. The system chosen was SAP, the biggest provider of ERP software in the world and IBM was chosen to implement the system. The dissertation sought to identify the process by which CIE decided upon one system over another and once the system was chosen, did CIE follow best practice at the implementation stage. The dissertation is a Case Study based on SAP in CIE, a report produced internally to the organisation, looking at the overall process, from the start, to the date of the report in 2000. This report was in turn the basis of a further report by Plaut Consulting Limited, which looked at the leverage greater benefits from the system chosen. Information on Best Practice for the development and implementation of systems is widely available within academic literature, in particular the Systems Development Life Cycle, which is a core framework for such projects. The dissertation also sought to investigate a relatively new area of research, IT Investments Evaluation. This area looks at the overall process from setting selection criteria, to selecting the system and then post analysis to see if objectives/targets have been met. It is an area that seeks to create Organisation Learning, in that the Organisation uses the knowledge gained from one project to better run their next project. The dissertation shows that in general the implementation was a success. According to Simon Cunningham, Business Systems Manager, Bus Eireann ‘the process of implementing an ERP system was successful in so far as it is now running in the company. The overall benefits to the company in terms if costs, efficiencies, effectiveness, suitability etc should be factored in when evaluating the degree of success'. CIE are very strong in the technical skills required to implement systems i.e. systems developers, programmers, business annalists etc. Their weakness was in the area of IT Investments Evaluation, in that the criteria set at the start of the project for success were generalised and vague, lacking a clear quantifiable targets e.g. Improve Management Information. This does not give any degree of success. However, Organisational learning was utilised to a certain degree in that the lessons learned in the first implementations were subsequently used for future upgrades to the SAP system. According to Jim Cullen, Chief Financial Officer, CIE ''a greater focus on the business aspects as against the SAP aspects, which we adopted in later implementation; would have benefited the early implementations'.