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Purpose - This study aims to explore the process of open source software (OSS) adoption in small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs), and more specifically open source ERP as a “mission critical” OSS application in manufacturing. It also addresses the fundamental issue of ERP risk management that shapes this process.
Design/methodology/approach - The approach is done through an interpretive case study of a small Canadian manufacturer that has adopted an open source ERP system.
Findings - Interpreted in the light of diffusion of innovation theory and the IT risk management literature, results indicate that the small manufacturer successfully managed the adoption process in a rather intuitive manner, based on one guiding principle and nine practices.
Practical implications - This research confirms that open source is a credible alternative for SMEs that decide willingly or under external pressure to adopt an ERP system. Moreover, it suggests that a high level of formalization is not always necessary. For ERP vendors, this study shows that SMEs are more in search of flexibility in an ERP system than in the “best practices” embedded within these systems.
Originality/value - We argue that rich insights into the dynamics of the OSS-ERP adoption process can be obtained by framing this process within a risk management context.
Open source software; ERP adoption; SME; Small business; IT risk management.