Prioritizing packaged software implementation projects: The significance of gaps

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter


This chapter examines the dynamics of prioritizing implementation projects. Building on the notion of "fit-gap" work, this chapter emphasizes the significance of "de-prioritization" as a practical technique for managing Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) implementation projects. "Fit-gap" is a term that resonates with current academic and professional discussions concerning the use of customization and work-arounds necessary to coax suboptimal implementations into functioning properly as the systems age. These are not idle matters given the near irreversibility of ERP projects once initiated and the reported high probability of failure following implementation. Drawn from in-depth interviews and internal documents collected from a multiyear organizational case study of ERP in an institution of higher education, this chapter reports on various uses, interpretations, and consequences of prioritization techniques used to manage implementation projects. In practice, the idea that complex software implementations can be theoretically reduced to mere gaps in fit serves to obscure the political conflict and ambiguous economic accounting that underlie committee work devoted to identifying gaps, deliberating on possible fits, and then prioritizing which gaps are fit immediately and others scheduled for fit later on. In conclusion, while fit-gap committee work is openly intended to result in fewer customizations overall, de-prioritization, as a management technique, appears to "remove without removing" agenda items from the implementation schedule. The upshot for managers: placing such decisions in purgatory delays indefinitely investments of time and finances into customizing new software to fit old policies, and all the work-arounds necessary to shore-up any lingering idiosyncrasies.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationPhenomenology, Organizational Politics, and IT Design
Subtitle of host publicationThe Social Study of Information Systems
PublisherIGI Global
Number of pages17
ISBN (Print)9781466603035
StatePublished - 2012

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • General Computer Science


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