Greenfields vs. Brownfields: Understanding ERP Implementation Approaches

December 8, 2023by Editor

Change is the only constant in the business world, and with it comes the need to adapt and evolve. For many organisations, Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) systems play a pivotal role in this adaptation. When it comes to implementing an ERP system, you have two primary approaches to choose from: Greenfield and Brownfield.

In this guide, we’ll explore these two approaches, their differences, benefits, and challenges, helping you make an informed decision for your organisation.


A Greenfields approach in ERP implementation involves building a new system from the ground up, often after retiring an older system.


  • Flexibility: The Greenfields approach allows for complete customisation, aligning the ERP system precisely with your organisation’s unique needs. You can design processes, workflows, and features to fit your specific requirements like a glove.
  • Clean Slate: You’re not burdened by legacy processes or outdated technologies, enabling you to embrace the latest advancements in ERP technology.
  • Efficiency: Greenfield implementations can lead to greater operational efficiency as you have the opportunity to optimise processes from scratch, eliminating unnecessary steps and bottlenecks.


  • Resource Intensive: Building from the ground up can be more resource-intensive in terms of time, effort, and budget.
  • Learning Curve: Staff may need to adapt to a completely new system and workflows, which can initially slow down operations.



Brownfield ERP implementation, on the other hand, involves building upon your existing ERP system. Here’s what you should consider:


  • Cost-Effective: Brownfield is often more budget-friendly since you’re leveraging existing infrastructure and functionalities. You avoid the high initial costs associated with starting from scratch.
  • Faster Implementation: Brownfield implementations typically take less time to roll out since you’re not building everything anew. This can be critical if your organisation needs a quicker solution.
  • Minimal Disruption: Employees are already familiar with some aspects of the system, reducing the learning curve and potential disruptions to daily operations.


  • Legacy Constraints: You may need to work around outdated processes or technologies that were originally designed to cater to the needs of your organisation at a different stage. This can limit your ability to fully modernise.
  • Integration Complexity: Integrating new features and functions can be challenging without disrupting current operations, requiring careful planning and execution.

Choosing the Right Approach:

So, which approach should you choose? The answer depends on your organisation’s specific needs and circumstances. Consider the following factors in your decision-making:

  • Budget: If resources are limited, a Brownfield approach might be more practical as it’s typically more cost-effective.
  • Urgency: If you need to implement an ERP system quickly, Brownfield may be the way to go due to its faster implementation timeline.
  • Customisation: If your organisation’s processes are highly unique, a Greenfield approach might be necessary to meet your exact requirements.
  • Legacy Systems: Evaluate the state of your existing ERP system. If it’s outdated and inefficient, starting fresh with Greenfield might be the best option.
  • Change Management: Consider how your employees will adapt to the changes. A Brownfield approach might be less disruptive to your workforce.

In conclusion, both Greenfield and Brownfield ERP implementation approaches have their merits and drawbacks. Can!do Consulting specialises in change management, training, capability development, and measurement and optimisation, which can be invaluable regardless of the approach you choose. It’s essential to weigh your organisation’s unique needs and objectives before making a decision.

If you’re still unsure about which path to take, Can!do Consulting can provide expert guidance to ensure a smooth and successful ERP implementation tailored to your  requirements. While our focus is on the people side of systems change, more so than on the way in which the system is implemented, we partner with a number of Systems Implementers who could advise you on the best route to follow, given your requirements. Enlisting the help of both a Systems Implementer, and a Systems Change Consultancy such as ours, will ensure that your journey to an optimised ERP system and optimal user adoption starts here.


Can!do works with large enterprises in South Africa to maximise the value of their employees, technology and business processes. To do this, we offer three fundamental services; change management, capability development and performance optimisation. 

We have 30 years of experience in these fields and have worked with leading companies in South Africa. We are a certified Level 2 B-BBEE company and a leading provider of new business systems and processes that drive user adoption. For industry insights and news, please follow us on Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter.


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