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Journal of Modern Accounting and Auditing, ISSN 1548-6583

December 2012, Vol. 8, No. 12, 1838-1847



The Successful Methodology for Enterprise Resource Planning

(ERP) Implementation
Miroslav Lutovac
Singudunum University, Belgrade, Serbia

Dragan Manojlov
Advanced Information Technology Consulting (AICON), Belgrade, Serbia
Organizations need to use a proved methodology to reduce implementation risks and enable the enterprise resource
planning (ERP) solution to be put into operation as quickly as possible. The right implementation methodology will
also help ensure that the ERP implementation fully addresses an organizations business goals and objectives.
Modern ERP implementation methodology encourages and supports a progressive approach to the management for
users of ERP systems. A company is constantly seeking better methods and models for decision supports in all
kinds of decisions and developing/copying new products/markets that generate the growth of the company. On the
other hand, a company creates efficient and effective operations that improve the return on investment, because
ERP is always considered as an asset. This paper focuses on the interaction of culture in a company, business
strategy, and organizational skills and balances the relationship among ERP methodology, ERP implementation,
and the performance of the company. Considering the fact that different ERP systems use different methodologies,
short descriptions of the most dominant brand name ERP are analyzed (Oracle Financials, PeopleSoft, and systems,
applications, and products (SAP) implementation methodology). Although all methodologies may look similar, the
selection of a proper methodology is the most critical part in ERP investment. The focus of this paper is on the
accelerated SAP methodology, also named as ASAP methodology, because it is the most used one on the
worldwide market of ERP systems.
Keywords: enterprise resource planning (ERP) system, systems, applications, and products (SAP), Oracle










Enterprise resource planning (ERP) system is based on an information technology (IT) infrastructure that
facilitates the flow of information within an organization. ERP systems integrate all information and processes
of an organization into a unique system with a unified database that concerns how organizations gather, collect,
store, access, summarize, interpret, and use business information. An ERP system integrates different

Acknowledgement: This paper was partly granted by Ministry of Education, Science, and Technological Development,
Republic Serbia, Project TR32023.
Miroslav Lutovac, professor, Faculty of Business, Singudunum University. Email: mlutovac@singidunum.ac.rs.
Dragan Manojlov, senior SAP manager, Management and Information Systems, Advanced Information Technology Consulting



components through the technical integration of software, hardware, and business processes. In a typical
organization structure, an implementation cost of the ERP system consists of 15% software, 30% hardware, 40%
systems integration, and 15% personnel (Malhotra & Temponi, 2010).
Unfortunately, ERP systems are not successfully implemented in many companies. For example, in
Indonesia, more than 80% of the companies implementing the ERP systems did not succeed in their
implementations and more than 50% of the companies implementing the ERP systems in the world failed to
gain the optimal return value. While in China, only 10% of the companies gained success. Some researchers
show that 50% of the companies implementing the ERP systems failed to gain success (Dantes & Hasibuan,
An ERP solution will provide no return, if users are unable to use it effectively. It is interesting that more
than 40% of the medium-size companies have two or more ERP software packages, while more than 15%
companies have three or more ERP packages. Based on the Aberdeen Group survey, 10% of the companies
plan to replace strategies supported by an appropriate ERP system for the next year, while 15% of the
companies plan to replace the existing solution in the next two years. Almost 25% of the companies are looking
for a new ERP solution that will replace the existing one in the next three years. The main reason for the
replacement of the existing ERP solution, in 50% cases, is a need for more functionality, since 40% are
unhappy with the clumsy user interface and 35% need a standardized solution with international capabilities.
There is a long list of companies that have problems in implementing ERP systems, such as the
well-known and successful Dell computers, Apple computers, or Whirlpool (Shahin, Sadri, & Gazor, 2010). An
inappropriate application and implementation of the ERP system can harm the performance of an organization.
Some researchers report that the success rate of the ERP implementation is very low, and in some countries, the
failure rate is up to 90%. Therefore, it is very important to find out a framework for the evaluation of ERP as
managerial and organizational aspects rather than technical aspects (Manojlov & Lutovac, 2012a). Even more,
aspects, such as managerial and organizational, can decrease the risk of failure in the implementation of the
system in an organization.
The ERP implementation methodology involves various processes and procedures, which constitute the
conditions or means for formulating the actual implementation of ERP projects. The most famous ERP
methodologies are developed by the biggest worldwide ERP systems, such as systems, applications, and
products (SAPs), Oracle Financials, and PeopleSoft (Anand, 2007; Balolu, 2003; Kurtz, 2005).
Too many ERP implementation projects are running out of time. In order to minimize the cost and risk,
proper software manufactories, software resellers, implementation consultants, and system integrators should
be chosen (Chofreh, Goni, & Jofreh, 2011; Wang, 2011). ERP methodology is essential in each ERP project. If
a company insists on the deviation of standard ERP methodology, it could have a great impact on the whole
implementation. In general, the ERP methodology is stipulated in the pre-sales phase of the ERP project. The
progressive management in the company must push the best solution and choose the right methodology
considering specifics in the project. The urgent task is to pass the legislation on data protection and all forms of
misuse of IT during the conversion from legacy systems to a new ERP solution, in order to protect the freedoms,
civil rights, and personal life (Lutovac & Manojlov, 2012).
A successful implementation can be accomplished by avoiding software modification, taking integration
seriously, and testing thoroughly. The standard software built in business processes, as the bases of
organizational changes, should be used instead of software modifications, according to the companys existing



business models. The chosen software solution should be flexible with open interface based on the modern
technology. The integration of the existing business intelligence (BI) systems, data warehouse (DW), customer
relationship management (CRM) systems, human resource management systems (HRMS), financial
management solutions (FMS), supply chain management (SCM) systems, enterprise performance management
(EPM) software, and e-commerce solution is especially important for small to medium businesses (SMBs)
(Garca, 2011).
SAP ERP system is an ERP system that covers most of the world markets of information systems. SAP
has developed an accelerated methodology, known as accelerated SAP (ASAP), and it will be analyzed in
details in the second part of this paper. There are many positive and negative factors in each ERP
implementation. The identification of essential factors to a successful implementation on the time is the key to a
good implementation (Manojlov & Lutovac, 2012b). The best methodology must provide the corresponding
tools for that.

Implementation MethodologiesSAP, Oracle Financial, and PeopleSoft

ASAP Implementation Methodology
Generally, there are two organized ways of implementing SAP: conventional method and organized
method of implementation. The conventional method is known as SAP procedure model methodology and
has been replaced by ASAP methodology lately (ASAP, 2012). However, an old SAP methodology is also in
use today primarily because of the flexibility in providing the company with substantial revenues exceeding
trillion dollars (Doane, 2007; Kale, 2000; Khan, 2002).
SAP procedure model consists of the following stages:
(1) Organizational and conceptual design;
(2) Detailed design and customization of the system;
(3) Preparation of production;
(4) Support to production.
Such a methodology requires a detailed design of the existing system, implemented existing functionality,
and business processes. Considerable time is required to spend on the As-Is and To-Be analysis1. Decision
making is very slow and is based on a consensus, which requires time to achieve.
The negative sides of this approach are as follows:
(1) Given that this is the analysis of the existing functionality, a SAP implementation using SAP procedure
model often becomes a mirror of the existing implementation. In other words, it is recommended not to get the
significant added value of such an ERP system implementation;
(2) The company implementation is used as the basis of the existing business processes;
(3) The company does not use SAP best practice;
(4) The long implementation period as the phases of the analysis and conceptual design is often prolonged.
In order to keep costs under control, the ASAP methodology is introduced, which significantly accelerates
the deployment and ends at the time ordered by the project plan. While the conventional method requires a

As-Is and To-Be Analysis is the term given to producing flowcharts and process maps that depict the current situation and then
go on to develop the future presentation. The As-Is is a detailed presentation of the process as it is performed today. It collects
data and highlights opportunities for improvements. The To-Be analysis can either be a new process addressing the problems from
the AS-IS analysis or a completely new process design that takes into account information from the AS-IS analysis.



number of years, the ASAP implementation methodology can be implemented in a year.

The ASAP methodology provides a proved, comprehensive, rich, and operationally-feasible method for
managing an implementation of the project. ASAP covers the implementation, upgrade, strategic studies, and
more. Some of the key tools that support the methodology include: SAP solution composer; SAP roadmap
composer; and SAP solution manager. Testing software from SAP during 2011 implementation showed that
over 30% of the projects were considered to have failed, because they lacked an effective project planning.
While on the other hand, less than 10% of the projects were rated as failed due to technological reasons.
The main features of this methodology are:
(1) Usage of predefined templates (solution map);
(2) Question and answer (Q&A) database of questionnaires;
(3) Diagram explorer model of the process;
(4) The use of auxiliary, prepared draft documents, spreadsheets; and presentation of the implementation;
(5) Intensive user involvement in the implementation process.
Roadmap defines the phase of implementation of SAP ERP systems that are supported by a
comprehensive plan.
The speed of implementation is supported by numerous tools, models, examples, and reference facilities
that provide a complete structural development of all jobs that follow the accession of resources respectively
(Yilmaz & Ozcan, 2011). Each ASAP process is supported with a comprehensive set of tools. The tools
contained within the ASAP products provide continuous education and address current issues, problems, and
requests. Using the ASAP methodology supports tools and features in SAP ERP implementation phase and
significantly reduces the total cost of the project reaching the indicated deadline. The quality of the work
performed is at a high level, while the risk of failure is minimized.
ASAP as a methodology was launched in 1996, in order to accelerate the implementation and meet the
world market ERP systems in the domain of middle-sized companies with more than 2.5 billion US dollars a
year. ASAP has brought a change in the domain of SAP ERP systems, focusing on the implementation of the
methodology rather than on the software. ASAP is a methodology that supports project management, team
members, business process consultants, external consultants, and technical people.
What can ASAP do? ASAP is designed to standardize the implementation of SAP. In order to reduce the
cost of quality (COQ), it is important to standardize all implementation steps (Tsai, Chang, Lin, & Lee, 2012).
Anyhow, it initiates a straight implementation of SAP ERP systems. The ASAP methodology is characterized
by the following:
(1) Optimizes time, quality, and resources;
(2) Forces the best business practices;
(3) Delivers the process-oriented project folder (ASAP roadmap), which describes the incremental phase;
(4) Defines the terms and costs of the implementation;
(5) Provides the processes, tools, training, and services;
(6) Provides detailed help through the various stages of implementation;
(7) Provides appropriate tools for the trade-off between implementation costs and time required for
accomplishing favorite quality;
(8) Check-list, technical questionnaires, and manuals;
(9) Supports for a continuous improvement in implementation.



How is ASAP implemented? The client who implements the ERP system does not usually have the
internal expertise necessary for the implementation of complex software. Thus, the client engages in an external
consulting company to actively lead and participate in the implementation of the ERP project.
SAP recommends choosing ASAP-certified partners in the SAP implementation project. The consulting
company becomes a partner of ASAP, if at least 70% of its staff of consultants have completed the training of
ASAP and are completely familiar with the ASAP methodology.
Oracle Implementation Methodology
Oracle Financials uses Oracles application implementation methodology (AIM) as a management model.
AIM incorporates two phases. Firstly, it is a methodology showing what tasks are required, in what order they
should be completed, and what resources are required. Secondly, it provides deliverable templates for all tasks
that require them. Hence, the hybrid of a methodology with a deliverable template tool makes AIM a powerful
The biggest disadvantage of the AIM methodology is that it can be very complicated. Complexity means
that the AIM methodology has plenty of deliverables, which can be more than 225. The large time frame of the
project phase can be a significant disadvantage of this methodology. AIM is supposed to be used by
experienced project managers, who pick and choose the tasks they require for each project. Most of the
consulting companies have fine-tuned and took a tailored approach for the AIM methodology, based on their
standard implementation practices. However, for new companies that are starting with the implementation and
the benefits expected in a short time, this may be unacceptable.
AIM defines business needs at the beginning of the project and maintains their visibility throughout the
implementation. It defines internal, external, and time-sensitive business events and maps each event to the
responding business and system processes. Using this method, the client gains an accurate understanding of the
business requirements that need to be focused on during the course of the implementation. But the purpose of
implementing an ERP is to use standard business models and reduce the large number of procedures, instead of
using reinvent business models through implementing the existing processes in software.
The processes in AIM represent a related set of objectives, resource skill requirements, inputs, and
deliverable outputs. A task can belong to only one process. Project team members are usually assigned to a
process, according to their specialization and background. A brief description of the AIM processes is given as
(1) The definition of business requirements. It defines the business needs that must be met by the
implementation project. Business processes should be documented by identifying business events and
describing the steps that respond to the corresponding events;
(2) The mapping of business requirements. It compares the business requirements with the standard
application software functionality and identifies gaps that must be addressed to fully meet business needs. As
gaps between requirements and functionality emerge, they are resolved by documenting workarounds,
alternative solutions, and application extensions or by changing the underlying business process. The business
process should be changed to fulfill requirements for changes in a business, not just to overcome the
inconsistency of the standardized software;
(3) Application and technical architecture. During this phase, information system architecture is designed
in such a way to reflect a business vision. Using the business and information system requirements, this process



facilitates the development of a plan for deploying and configuring the hardware required for a successful
(4) Module design and build. They produce custom software solutions to gaps in functionality identified
during business requirements mapping. Custom software solutions include program modules that must be
designed, built, and tested before they are incorporated into the ERP system;
(5) Data conversion. It defines the tasks and deliverables required to convert the legacy data to the Oracle
applications tables. The first step of this process explicitly defines the business objects that are required for the
conversion and the legacy source systems that store these objects. The converted data may be needed for
system testing, training, and acceptance testing for production;
(6) Documentation begins with materials created early in the project. Using detailed documents from the
project, the writing staffs develop user and technical materials that are tailored to the implementation;
(7) Business system testing focuses on linking test requirements back to business requirements and
securing project resources needed for testing. It supports utilizing common test information including data
profiles to promote testing co-ordination and minimize duplication of test preparation and execution effort;
(8) Performance testing enables customers to define, build, and execute a performance test. An aim of the
performance test is to make a decision whether the performance is acceptable for business or not. The tactical
or strategic changes could be proposed, in order to address the performance quality shortfall. Performance
testing is closely related to the application and technical architecture. They are interdependent;
(9) User training. Training prepares both users and administrators to assume the tasks of running the new
application system. It includes the development of materials and methods as well as administration. Instructors
and courseware developers orient their materials towards roles and jobs instead of application modules;
(10) Production migration. Production migration moves the company, system, and people to the new
enterprise system. Following the production cutover, production migration monitors and refines the production
system and plans for the future. The production migration process encompasses a transition to production
readiness, production cutover, and post-production support.
PeopleSoft Implementation Methodology
PeopleSoft uses its own methodology consisting of the following phases:
(1) Project planning: the planning of the engagement to the task level based upon the current information;
(2) Analysis and design: Gather additional data, in order to prepare preliminary designs to meet the desired
(3) Configuration and programming: configuration of the application to process in such a manner to meet
expectations using best practices;
(4) Testing: test the functionality of the configured system and the operational readiness;
(5) Transition: coordinate and inform all organizations of the solution;
(6) Post production: make appropriate adjustments and fine-tune the solution.
PeopleSoft methodology practically fits the AIM methodology, since the Oracle acquisition of PeopleSoft
was completed in 2005. Until 2005, PeopleSoft was the dominant ERP in South and North America.

How Does the Methodology Affect the Success of Implementation?

There are several factors to consider, when selecting the methodology used for the implementation. Some
of the factors are external to impose some strict procedures and some are internal.



External factors may include the following:

(1) Invitation to tender a public sector procurement information system. As part of the tender, there is a
functional specification of the future information system. Functional specification defines a list of all
functionalities needed to implement the ERP system in the future. During an initial preparation of functional
specifications, the potential consulting firm does not know the functionalities (basic and advanced) that are
built into the logic of a particular ERP system. Functional specification, in most cases, is an analysis of the
existing processes and does not take into consideration specifics of an ERP system. Therefore, there is a large
discrepancy, if strictly adheres to the functional specification that represents a major obstacle to a successful
implementation during the implementation. In this case, the recommendation is to use the SAP procedure
model implementation as the only solution for the successful implementation of the company;
(2) Legislative requirements. Each brand name ERP system (SAP or Oracle Financials) has embedded the
localization part. Localization is the set of processes/reports, which the state has prescribed. If it is not
financially approved due to the same reasons (a few of clients, the industry line, etc.), the central management
of an ERP system does not decide to make the localization set for a given business process/report that is
required of a state of the company. In this case, the consulting company can do extensive editing code
(programming) and therefore, the deviation from the ASAP methodology offers the best solutions and shortens
the implementation time;
(3) The turbulent market environment. Continuous changes in business processes caused by market factors
consequently impose a change on the information system. Taking the company X for example, the sale of
product A, which generated 65% of income, stopped, but there was a niche market to sell the product B, which
was obtained by reprocessing the product A. In this specific case, it was necessary to implement new business
processes for the transfer of goods under an operating system and a new business process in the production
module. However, changes imposed by the market are often unpredictable. If companies want to be competitive,
it is imperative that they must follow and incorporate business processes in the information system.
Internal factors may include the following:
(1) Companies regressive policies defined by the non-active and sluggish top management of the
company. If top management does not want changes in business processes due to various factors (Profit is still
a big risk, if something changes; there is no interest to participate), the risk of failure of implementation is very
(2) The project team has no motivation to participate in the project. Often, employees in a company are
unhappy with the current working conditions and have no motivation to spend even more time by participating
in the implementation of ERP solutions. In this case, a consulting company recommends two solutions:
(a) The company should hire new graduates, who are exempt from the burden of outdated business
processes and are ready to prove the new environment;
(b) The management of a company should create the rewarding model that motivates employees to
participate in the ERP project.
Some of the mentioned factors, as turbulent market conditions, are unavoidable, and the client and
consulting company have no effect on them. Practically, the recommendation is that the company and the
management in the company in particular must pay attention to the braking factors and eliminate them or at
least minimize them. That would lead to a successful implementation of an ERP system. Anyhow, the
progressive management of the company has to bring a huge influence on implementation, in order to
maximize the implementation and consequently improve business processes.



The ASAP methodology also has implementation costs. There are no two identical SAP implementations,
because there are many variables included, such as company size, number of divisions, project scope, approach,
company culture, etc.. Therefore, it is very difficult to measure implementation costs. However, Aberdeen
Group made a case study in 2010 based on their SAP implementation using the ASAP methodology. This study
determined that implementation costs at these sites could be broken down as follows:
(1) Consulting fees: 36%;
(2) In-house labor: 21%;
(3) License costs: 20%;
(4) Training fees: 6%;
(5) Hardware costs: 17%.
The main difference is that consulting fees decreased the overall cost of the project compared with the
congenial methodology, while a consulting company spends about 50% project money. Now, ASAP is
established as a standard SAP methodology. A very large pool of experts comprising more than 140,000
consultants worldwide have been trained in this methodology (ASAP, 2012).

Conventional VS. Progressive Implementation Methodology of SAP ERP Solutions

Like all the other methodologies, there are reasons for the pros and cons of using a certain methodology.
Table 1 compares the characteristics of ASAP and SAP procedure models implementation methodology.
Table 1
Characteristics of ASAP and Conventional Methodology



business Time-consuming due to new processes
Fast, without a deeper analysis

Conventional method
Very fast, because existing processes are
Based on a detailed analysis and consensus


Focused and narrow

Less testing is required, since minimal More testing is required due to the extensive
code changes are implemented
code modifications
Very expensive
application Minimal
Extensive, due to excessive custom requirements
programming (ABAP) development
Number of consultants
Relatively few are required
Large teams of experts
Employee turnover
Low, due to less knowledge during the High, as extensive knowledge gained can be
leveraged for a better job
Knowledge transfer for employees
Low, since a project is rushed and a High, since features are configured gradually
consultant allocates insufficient time
with the employee participation

The progressive company management always prefers to accept new business processes based on the SAP
best practice. In this manner, they can avoid fierce arguments for the ERP implementation and consequently
vastly reduce the blueprint phase of businesses. When best practices are adopted, configuration is also reduced,
since the best practice processes are already configured. Table 2 displays the standard cost, SAP procedure
model, and accelerated costs.
AIM Oracle Financials and PeopleSofts methodologies are considered as conventional methodologies due
to their standardization and long existence.



Table 2
Cost Comparison of ASAP and Conventional Methodology
Project preparation
Final preparation

Standard cost

Accelerated cost


Audit of ASAP Methodology

There are two ways of control for a right implementation of the ASAP methodology. The first one is
during the implementation and the second one is postponed and performed one or two years from the moment
of go-live of the SAP implementation. The first way of control is considered as quality assurance (QA) control,
and it happens when the top management of a company realizes the importance of adding QA to the project, in
order to control critical points of the ASAP implementation. QA is responsible for the control of consultants
work and the proposition and implementation of new/better solutions for specific issues. Normally, QA is a
third party person/company on the project and does not have any connection with a consulting or client
The second way of control is the audit of the SAP methodology. Generally, the audit of the ASAP
methodology is done after one or two years from the moment of go-live of the SAP implementation. In most of
the cases, the audit of the ASAP methodology is part of the audit of the SAP implementation.
Anyhow, there are several points accounting for the failure of the ASAP methodology:
(1) Initial project planning in the preparation phase of a project. Participants on the projects heavily rely on
initial project planning, in order to plan and utilize their time. On the other hand, initial project planning is not
exact, due to the fact that there may be unexpected factors on the continuation of the project;
(2) Organizational change management and the definition of the business organization structures in the
business blue print (BBP) phase. New information systems always bring new structure and new ways of
thinking, which could be a breaking factor for the vanilla implementation of the ASAP methodology;
(3) The role of the project management in the realization phase. The purpose of the project management in
the realization phase is to establish a cycle of project management activities to ensure that the implementation
of the project is on schedule;
(4) Cutover activities in the final preparation phase. Cutover activities are activities needed for a migration
from an old system to a new system. The matching between the two systems (also called as interfaces) is
always critical, because there is no identical system all over the world.

In order to gain the optimal return value and success, companies should carefully select the methodology,
on which the ERP system is based, because an inappropriate application and implementation of the ERP can
harm the performance of an organization. The fast implementation and short return on investment in the ERP
can be beneficial, if external consultant companies and companies project managers stick to plans and budgets,
do the right things, and avoid traps. Instead of maintaining the previous business processes, it is more



preferable to use the standardized software with built-in business processes as the bases for organizational
changes and the reduction of number of different business procedures. New business processes are needed, in
order to respond to market environment and continuous challenges from competitors, and that should not be
constrained by the ERP system. A chosen solution should be flexible with open architecture and a simple user
interface. The ERP solutions of the new era will be simplified, in order to be more accessible and easier to use,
probably based on the cloud computing and agile methodology. Security of personal date should be one of the
first priorities in upgrading and integrating IT systems, and the data about customers and internal procedures
cannot be lost.
The top management of the company must participate as a control factor in each phase of an
implementation and provide appropriate conditions for the ERP implementation. Balanced interactions between
a consulting company and the top management of a company lead to the optimizing of the ERP

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