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Delivering a public-sector enterprise resource planning (ERP) implementation

Keeping it on time and on budget for 70,000 end users.


A large European public-sector organization processing more than 200 million payments every year needed to overhaul its finance and human resources IT systems, which comprised approximately 50 legacy systems. Technical support for outdated systems was no longer available, and the few remaining internal developers were approaching retirement. The organization was also acutely aware that previous IT projects had been over budget, late, and had resulted in bad publicity for the organization.

Our objective was to replace this legacy architecture with a standard ERP system for more than 70,000 users and to support overall project management to ensure a timely and cost-efficient implementation.


In the first phase of the ERP implementation, we supported the client in defining the scope, creating a comprehensive budget estimate, securing approval for the project, preparing the RFP, evaluating competing offers, and undertaking contract negotiations.

After contract closure, we helped establish project governance processes ensuring that all the stakeholders were closely aligned—a challenge in an organization with more than 100,000 employees. We facilitated development of a rollout strategy that minimized risk, while ensuring the organization met its strict legal requirements of having one leading accounting system at all times.

Our approach was two-pronged:

  • We worked on a continuous basis with strategic project-management processes—running budget control, risk management, preparing steering committee meetings, etc. We ensured that we looked forward by, for example, tracking budget drivers such as planned training days rather than budget spent, and by actively searching for likely sources of risk rather than waiting for input.
  • We also operated as the special ops team for the client, solving urgent problems of the day, preparing recurring vendor negotiations, finding alternatives to sudden change requests, creating a plan to ensure continuous payments to the highest-risk customer group, and creating a comprehensive rollout monitoring process to coordinate the last 12 weeks before launch.


After contract closure, implementing the ERP system across the organization took more than 2 years. We were able to ensure that it was delivered on time (on the very day set more than 3 years earlier), at the desired quality level, and on budget. Staying within budget was particularly important, as it helped the organization save 40 percent against the quoted price of several contracts.

Given that this was a public-sector organization, it was vital that the organization leadership feel in control of the whole project and able to communicate its progress. Perhaps most important of all, the entire implementation took place without a hitch and unnoticed by the public.

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