Cisco Systems: Implementing 'Customized' ERP in Nine Months and within Budget

22 Pages Posted: 30 Aug 2005

See all articles by Avimanyu Datta

Avimanyu Datta

College of Business, Illinois State University

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Date Written: August 23, 2005


De Marco once said that what cannot be measured cannot me managed. Academicians and practitioners in the field of software engineering and information systems project, have consistently cited "intangibility" of software leads to stakeholder conflicts and lack of top management support resulting in the failure of over 75% of Information Systems Projects. Cost overruns and delayed delivery not only led to calling back of some projects but also yielded some catastrophic results. ERP packages, despite their known upsides, has their own shortcomings in terms of feasibility and scalability of the system to match the requirement of the customers. Cisco's skepticism toward an ERP system was well grounded. But instability and regular outages of their existing system with its inability to support growing needs of the company left them with no choice.

This case details how Cisco consolidated a team comprising of its own members, KPMG and Oracle mixed the robustness of sequential life cycle model with the flexibility of the iterative prototyping model to come up with a working system within just 9 months. This case also embarks on the top management support that Cisco received from the beginning of the project. In most cases, Information Systems development projects do not receive a conducive culture from the top management. Further the teams from Cisco, KPMG and Oracle blended into one cohesive unit with a common objective. Finally, the case ends with throwing a debatable question whether the success of Cisco can be repeated, asking whether Cisco was advantaged by technical resources and key timings. Lessons learned contains summaries of the major success drivers and flaws in place, which contributed to the successful rollout of Cisco's 15 million dollar ERP project in only nine months.

Keywords: Cisco, Oracle, ERP, Rapid Application development, Iterative Prototyping

Suggested Citation

Datta, Avimanyu, Cisco Systems: Implementing 'Customized' ERP in Nine Months and within Budget (August 23, 2005). Available at SSRN: or

Avimanyu Datta (Contact Author)

College of Business, Illinois State University ( email )

State Farm Hall of Business Suite 214A
Normal, IL 61790-5580
United States
(309) 438-7991 (Phone)
(309) 438-8201 (Fax)


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