Knowledge Retention in ERP Implementations: The Context of UK SMEs

Knowledge Retention in ERP Implementations: The Context of UK SMEs

Knowledge retention (k-retention) is vital for various enterprise resource planning (ERP) implementations in small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs). The paper aims to investigate different types of approaches to k-retention and factors and influences on k-retention in SMEs while adopting a grounded theory approach with cases based on 12 ERP implementations in UK SMEs used for thematic data analysis. After analysis, based on the findings, the authors develop an ERP k-retention (EKR) framework that can be utilized by SMEs that are considering implementing ERP systems to facilitate knowledge retention during implementation. This project was carried out in collaboration with academics from the UK.


Despite the benefits, there is evidence of a high failure rate for ERP implementation projects in numerous industries. One of the main reasons for ERP failures has been identified as a lack of sufficient support from KM approaches (such as knowledge retention approaches) throughout the ERP project lifecycle in SMEs. Another challenge was to find out the rationale for the integration of knowledge management and ERP in SMEs and a conceptual model for integration. Finally, the authors inquired about how the special characteristics of SMEs influence KM processes in a qualitative study with ERP service providers.


This research adopts a grounded theory approach for the research inquiry, the empirical data collection process, and the data analysis method. At the same time, empirical findings relate to ERP package knowledge retention, business process knowledge retention, project management, and organizational culture.


The findings reveal specific elements that support the k-retention of ERP package knowledge and business process knowledge. These elements of k-retention tools are documentation, human capital, and an understanding of k-retention challenges. In addition to insights from these aspects, the study reveals two additional factors (project management and organizational culture) that influence ERP package k-retention and business process k-retention.


This study identifies an EKR framework that is helpful to SMEs practitioners as both clients and implementation partners. SMEs who consider implementing ERP systems in the future can use the findings to decide on appropriate methods and directions for retaining knowledge during ERP implementation. Nevertheless, this study demonstrates how human capital should work collaboratively to retain relevant knowledge during ERP projects by mitigating the challenges of knowledge retention

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