Success and Failure of Enterprise Systems

Enterprise Systems (ES) are large, integrated information systems that combine various ICT functions within and between organizations. Implementation of these systems is costly and time-consuming, and often fails. A prominent and socially relevant example of this are the continued issues our government has with complex, large-scale ICT projects that cross the boundaries of a single organization, to the extent that it resulted in a currently ongoing parliamentary inquiry[1]. Still, many organizations have successful ES in place and many more continue to adopt them. Our interest lies in this apparent paradox, which is:

How can Enterprise Systems seemingly both fail and succeed?

We hypothesize that one of the causes of this could be that success (and its counterpart: failure) is relative. That is, it could depend on who you ask (e.g., top management, end users, or vendors) and when you ask (e.g., during the implementation project, immediately after system ‘go-live’, or later). To explore this phenomenon, we apply a (software) ecosystem[2] perspective, incorporating both (governmental) organizations and ES vendors.

In the project this proposal pertains to, we aim to perform two connected, innovative studies:

  • Qualitative case study. Data will be collected through observations, performing semi-structured interviews with representatives from both software vendors and their customers. This case study provides input for a:
  • Quantitative survey. Further on in the project, we plan for the Assistants to attend the ‘Overheid & ICT Beurs’ [Government & ICT Exhibition][3], in order to collect survey data among its participants (i.e., both ICT vendors and civil servants).

This proposal relates to both ‘The Dynamic Organisation’ and ‘The Digital Planet’ Network Institute research themes. We consider the use of a (software) ecosystem lens to align well with the mission of the Network Institute.

For a further description of the project, please visit