Mission Critical: Realizing the Promise of Enterprise Systems

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9780875849065: Mission Critical: Realizing the Promise of Enterprise Systems

This is a no-nonsense guide to the benefits and pitfalls of enterprise-wide information systems. How many organizations would doubt the promise of an integrated enterprise system (ES)? Not many, judging by a $15 billion industry. The combination of an ES as a platform for organizational information and Internet technology for gaining access to it adds up to the ideal solution for company-wide data sharing in real time. Not surprisingly, small and large companies worldwide are either considering an ES, in the process of implementing one, or living with the results. Yet, says Tom Davenport, unless managers view ES adoption and implementation as a business decision rather than a technology decision, they may be risking disappointment Mission Critical presents an authoritative and no-nonsense view of the ES opportunities and challenges. Suggesting ESs are not the right choice for every company, the author provides a set of guidelines to help managers evaluate the benefits and risks for their organizations. To be successful, argues Davenport, an organization must make simultaneous changes in its information systems, its business processes, and its business strategy. Such changes are described in detail with extensive examples from real organizations. Bolstering his contention that ESs should be viewed as business vs. technology projects, Davenport spells out the specific business change objectives that should be formulated in advance of ES adoption and monitored throughout its implementation. The first strategic guide to the ES decision, Mission Critical will be indispensable to general managers and information technology specialists at all stages of the implementation process.

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Review:

As information-dependent companies of all types continually expand, acquire, merge, and globalize, the need to share critical data--between far-flung sites, independent divisions, and even neighboring departments--increases exponentially. Thomas Davenport, director of the Institute for Strategic Change at Andersen Consulting and a professor of information management at Boston University, advocates integrated enterprise systems (or ESs) to expedite the process. In Mission Critical, he explains how these inherently complicated, unfailingly expensive, and yet potentially vital programs can best be coordinated with existing operations. He explores specific benefits as well as possible drawbacks. And he shows why some of the biggest players in the business world have succeeded in their ES efforts, while others with equal resources and similar goals have not.

While a properly designed ES will facilitate rapid dissemination of electronic data to pertinent employees, partners, and customers through Internet or intranet access, Davenport repeatedly claims, the key is handling this "as a business project, not a technical one." This means clearly defining objectives from the outset, utilizing executives with power to execute the required organizational changes, and incorporating explicit across-the-board incentives and penalties that are tied to the project's ultimate conclusion. Top managers and information specialists will find helpful guidance here on all relevant aspects of the process, including pre-implementation procedures, software selection, organization-wide strategies, and tips on using an ES to its full advantage. --Howard Rothman

From the Back Cover:

"Mission Critical is a clear and comprehensive account of the enduring value of enterprise systems. Davenport's experience consulting for the world's leading companies gives his research an undeniable veracity. Anyone interested in how the real world of business works will gain a great deal of insight from this book."
--Henning Kagermann, Co-Chairman of the Executive Board and Co-CEO of SAP AG

"Finally, here is a book that provides a comprehensive and practical understanding of enterprise systems-their promise, their peril, and their future. Any manager not familiar with Davenport's book and its emphasis on information management will be lacking in the business literacy so necessary for success."
--Warren Bennis, Distinguished Professor of Business, University of Southern California, and Co-author of Organizing Genius and Co-Leaders

"Transformation in any corporation requires excellence in strategy, organization, and systems. Davenport illustrates the success that results when all three components are effectively addressed and the risks in implementing systems when they are not."
--William Stavropoulos, President and CEO, The Dow Chemical Company

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