- The effective deployment of enterprise systems has been a major challenge for many organisations. Customising the new system, changing business processes, and integrating multiple information sources are all difficult tasks. As such, they are typically done in carefully planned stages in a process known as phased implementation. Using ideas from Option Theory, this article critiques aspects of phased implementation. One customer relationship management CRM project and its phased implementation are described in detail and ten other enterprise system deployments are summarised as a basis for the observation that almost all deployment stages are pre-defined operational steps rather than decision points. However, Option Theory suggests that optional stages, to be used only when risk materialises, should be integral parts of project plans. Although such optional stages are often more valuable than pre-defined stages, the evidence presented in this article shows that they are only rarely utilised. Therefore, a simple framework is presented; it first identifies risks related to the deployment of enterprise systems, then identifies optional stages that can mitigate these risks, and finally compares the costs and benefits of both pre-defined and optional stages.