As companies adapt to tough economic times, many hang their hopes on benefits of enterprise-level software (ES) packages such as SAP, seeking to lock in the “best practices” they perceive these products are built upon. However, critics question whether these pricey software packages can deliver sustained performance improvement. A recent working paper, “An Empirical Study of Operational Performance Convergence Following Enterprise-IT Implementation,” presents a case study of Tristen Corp., a pseudonym for a $4 billion U.S.-based manufacturer of computer components. The author, Mark J. Cotteleer, a postdoctoral fellow at Harvard Business School, documents the implementation of an enterprise-resource-planning (ERP) software package in three of the company's divisions — North America, Europe and Asia. Tristen, which deems the number of days between order placement and fulfillment to be a key indicator of competitive success, implemented its ES package in an attempt to standardize lead time across its divisions. The company also sought to standardize levels of service and improve customer satisfaction.Cotteleer collected lead-time data covering approximately 113,000 orders from 12 months before through 24 months after ERP deployment.