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Kevin Attard

DBA Graduate - 2016

Thesis title

ERP Selection Process in SMEs: Investigating factors influencing Tier 1 solutions adoption


Federico Pigni

Kevin Attard is a seasoned business professional with extensive regional experience spanning over 25 years in several major cities in Europe, the Middle East, and Africa. He started his career as an IT analyst and developer and then moved swiftly into management roles as CIO and program leader. After joining Oracle in 2004, he opened their office in Malta, which was followed by several regional roles in Vienna, London, Johannesburg, and Dubai. Kevin moved to SAP in 2016 and became its regional vice president for strategic customers.

Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) systems have evolved extensively over the last three decades. With that evolution, the Information Technology (IT) strategies of Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs) have also changed. In some ways, it is resulting that these organizations need equivalent Top Tier ERP solutions as much as their larger counterparts. Numerous SMEs are venturing towards the top tier ERP solutions rather than alternatives designed with their size and limitations in mind. Tier 1 ERP vendors, namely Oracle and SAP, traditionally limited their solutions to the likes of Fortune 1000 companies. The landscape has changed as smaller companies started adopting ERP systems to improve their performance, whilst the enterprise market started to saturate. As a result, large two ERP vendors are now competing with smaller ERP vendors for their piece of the SME market-share. Whilst smaller ERP vendors often understand and respond well to a midsize company's needs, budget and culture (Pitturo, 1999), the Tier 1 ERP vendors cannot ignore the midmarket as they have a vested interest predominantly related to market-share, but they can neither claim that their solutions are designed with the smaller customers in mind. On the contrary, these systems are built based on best industry practice gathered through insight around large sized and global organisations. Despite this fact, the same large ERP vendors, often aided by industry analysts, are influencing and shaping the SME market to their favour, capitalising on their market dominance and economic strengths. In the latest comprehensive literature review of the ERP research field over the last decade conducted by Slichter and Kraemmergaard (2010), the authors identified 885 papers related to the ERP subject. Whilst this proves the extensive attention the ERP domain is able to generate, no focussed study was identified seeking to answer the question of why SMEs are selecting top tier ERP systems, that factors influence their choice, rather than opting for a more cautious approach. This research intends to contribute towards this identified academic literature gap and seek answers about this perceived contradiction in IT strategy.