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Application of ERP Implementation Methodology Framework

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Any opinions, findings, conclusions or recommendations expressed in this material are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the views of UK Essays.

Published: Fri, 02 Mar 2018

Chapter 1

Introduction

This chapter will begin with a presentation of the background of my research area. The presentation will thereafter be followed by a problem and Significance of the research that will result in the objective and research question of my study.

Background

Over the past years innovation has arguably become one of the most discussed and sought after organisation-capabilities. It is recognised as a major goal of economic activity and one of the most important instruments through which organisations can gain advantages over their competitors. In order to survive in highly competitive business environments, companies have to continuously change their business processes. New conditions in the marketplace have provided a special stimulus to modelling business processes: product expansion, competitive sales conditions, development of global distribution networks, better informed customers, and the orientation of businesses towards satisfying the individual needs of the customer. In the light of this, business process reengineering has often been employed, and information technology is a frequently utilised approach used to improve business processes.

This study stressed the necessity for organisational restructuring in the context of global information connectivity. Business Process Reengineering is an organisational method demanding radical redesign of business processes in order to achieve greater efficiency, better quality and more competitive production (Hammer and Champy, 1993). It means analysing and altering the business processes of the organisation as a whole.

A business process includes activities and tasks that cross functional and/or organisational boundaries. Information technology (IT) is the most important factor in enabling newly redesigned processes. Modern information technology is oriented towards business processes and communications between persons using these processes, and is therefore called process and information technology (Ould, 1995). In that way, Business Process Reengineering can be described as organisational process redesign, with the direct influence of IT.

At the same time organisational expenditure on Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) has also grown significantly during the 1990s and beyond. ERP systems have been adopted by the majority of large private sector organisations and many public sector organisations in the UK, Europe and the industrialised world in general. We would not expect this growing trend to materialise unless significant advantages were to be expected from the introduction of ERP systems. It is because ERP systems have such a significant impact on the organisation, the working practices of individuals and on human interaction that we wish to explore their impact on innovation.

Origin of the term ERP

In the 1960s, no manufacturing company could afford to own a computer. Therefore, both manufacturing and inventories were handled on the basis that companies must hold enough stocks to satisfy customer demand, and that customers would order what they had ordered in the past, quantity and time wise. There after manufacturing management systems have evolved in stages over the past 30 years from a simple means of calculating materials requirements to the automation of an entire enterprise. In the 1970s and 1980s, over-frequent changes in sales forecasts, entailing continual readjustments in production, as well as inflexible fixed system parameters, led material requirement planning (MRP) and master production schedule (MPS) to evolve into a new concept called manufacturing resource planning (MRPII) in 1980 (Kakouris & Polychronopoulos, 2005). Finally in the early 1990s the generic concept Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP), incorporating all the MRPII functionality, in addition to Finance, Supply Chain, Human Resources and Project Management functionality (Anderson, 1982; Wallace, 1986; Wilson et al., 1994). Figure1 illustrates the gradual evolution of the Enterprise Resource Planning with respect to time.

Enterprise resource planning systems are commercial software packages that enable the integration of transaction-oriented data and business processes throughout an organisation (Markus and Tanis, 2000). The key elements of an Enterprise Resource Planning system according to Miller (2003) are: one large real-time database which reduces data redundancy and improves accuracy; integrated business process that cut across business functions such as supply chain management; and seamless transitions between business transactions.

According to Newman (2003), Enterprise Resource Planning Systems are “software modules for different business functions that are linked by a common database to produce an integrated enterprise-wide system.”

Enterprise Resource Planning packages, the enterprise system that makes company stick together, it is a nervous system of every corporation, large or small, when you check inside it tells what’s going on, it helps you act as what nervous system do, how to react, to treat the information about competitors, about products, how do you get best out of it. It pays employees, makes billing, run accounts, interacts with customers, ships goods, basically it runs the process of any company and helps accelerate business innovation for your customers. They build process factories for enterprises, which are so flexible and configurable for the identical companies so that they can do different things with the same factories and Helping Companies Become Best-Run Businesses.

ERP integrates key business and management functions and provides a view of the happenings in the company, in the areas of finance, human resources, manufacturing, supply chain, etc. (Davenport, 1998; James and Wolf, 2000). An ERP solution is valuable when it represents the characteristics demonstrated in Figure 2.

Significance and objective of research

In the 1990s, customers experienced more costly and complex ERP implementations then they expected (Eschinger et. al., 2003). One research group found that the average ERP implementation took 232 months, had a total cost of ownership of $15M, and rewarded the business with an average negative net present value of $1.5M (Wailgum, 2008).

Because of their wide scope of application within a business, ERP software systems are typically complex and usually impose significant changes on staff work practices, Implementing ERP software system is typically not an “in-house” skill, so even smaller projects are more cost effective if specialist ERP implementation consultants are employed. The length of time to implement an ERP system depends on the size of the business, the scope of the change and willingness of the customer to take ownership for the project. A small project (e.g., a company of less than 100 staff) may be planned and delivered within 3-9 months; however, a large, multi-site or multi-country implementation may take years (for more details see table 1 and table 2).

Although implementing an ERP system may be costly and time-consuming, its benefits are worthwhile. However, there are a number of examples where organisations have not been successful in reaping the potential benefits that motivated them to make large investments in ERP implementations (Davenport, 1998). The research is also predicting that ERP new license revenue will have fallen 24% in 2009, as companies severely rein back implementation and expansion projects. While the organisation expects ERP spending to rise slightly in 2010, vendors will be fighting hard for every available dollar, and that should translate into cost savings for customers (Kanaracus, 2010). Therefore year 2010 is predicted to be different and better in terms of ERP implementation.

According to Langenwalter (2000), Enterprise Resource Planning implementation failure rate was from 40% to 60%, yet companies try to implement these systems because they are absolutely essential to responsive planning and communication (see Appendix 2 for ERP solution satisfaction). The competitive pressure unleashed by the process of globalisation is driving implementation of Enterprise Resource Planning projects in increasingly large numbers, so methodological framework for dealing with complex problem of evaluating Enterprise Resource Planning projects is required (Teltumbde, 2000). All ERP vendors came up with solution and build their implementation methodology which they recommend to all their clients to utilise the approach during their implementation and continuously looking for improvements in those methods. Therefore the Research in this subject will value the investment put in by the companies in these projects.

The primary objective of this dissertation was to explore the application of ERP implementation methodology framework by different vendors when implementing ERP and to find commonalities or diversion in the ways of improvement by them.

Therefore the key research questions that are the focus of this study are:

  • To what extent different companies follow AcceleratedSAP as methodology when implementing SAP?
  • Is different companies use different innovative ways to improve the process? Are there commonalities or diversion in this innovation?

Chapter 2

Literature Review

The purpose of this chapter is to present my theoretical framework. In this chapter first I will present different implementation framework models from some researchers and academician. Then select one model as my theoretical base.

Information Systems Development Methodology

Creation of an Information System is not a trivial matter, and must strive to fulfil four main goals; usefulness, usability, reliability and flexibility (Kruchten, 2000). To minimise risks of failure in any of these primary objectives there are a number of specialised development methodologies available, each with different strengths and weaknesses and suited to different project types:

The Classic Model

This model, often called the Waterfall model (figure 3), represents the “traditional” software lifecycle, and outlines an Information System project in clearly defined, partitioned phases that follow in sequential order (though the actual phases are not always the same) (Avgerou and Cornford, 1998). This approach has strengths when requirements are well known and unchanging, unfortunately problems with this approach are quickly identified. The main failings of this model stem from its linear nature, where each stage must be completed and the outputted deliverable passed to the next phase. This produces an inflexible model that is hard to step back to previous stages without changing everything (Avison and Fitzgerald, 2006). Due to this separated structure a gap of understanding can become present between users and developers, and as no deliverables are viewed until the end of the sequence unsatisfactory results can be delivered. It also typically suffers from long development times (which are certainly not available in this project) and as such is not usually practised in the formal fashion (Avgerou and Cornford, 1998).

This model alone is clearly unsuitable to the ERP implementation project as completion in a timely fashion is a key objective, and with this extra constraint risks will be extremely high. As such requirements capture/analysis will need to on-going throughout the entire process. With these points noted, a partially phased approach is attractive from a project management point of view, and an extensive initial requirements capture phase could greatly reduce project risks through understanding of the problem domain.

Business Process Reengineering Implementing Methodologies

One approach of information system development, which takes into account strategic aspects, is business process reengineering. It has presented organisation with the opportunity to rethink out dated procedures, rules, and assumptions underlying their business activities. This opportunity is usually enabled partly by the application of technology to outdated process (Avison and Fitzgerald, 2006).

The initial research of the subject starts with Business Process Reengineering which is achieved by the adoption of ERP as it streamline the organisation’s processes by integrating the information flow into a single system. The term business process reengineering had its origin at MIT during 1984-1989 while MIT’s enumerating management techniques for the 1990s. Business process reengineering simply means transformation from function based to process based. The radical redesign of a process is easily achieved by involving information technology (IT) in business processes and hence the prominence of IT in business process reengineering. IT is accepted not only as just a business process reengineering enabler (Hammer and Champy, 1993) but also as an essential enabler of business process reengineering (Davenport and Short, 1998). There exists a recursive relationship between business process reengineering and IT which can be utilised for thorough process change. In the modern times and due to rapid proliferation of computers in the business arena, business process reengineering through IT is getting a big boost. Business process reengineering using IT emanated from gradual progression in the use of computers from routine clerical job processing to IT-based decision making. Many corporations reaped benefits by re-engineering their processes at various stages of IT development. At the same time, re-engineering cannot be planned and achieved in small cautious steps for any corporation (Hammer, 1990). Some of the commonly used IT tools for re-engineering are ERP systems.

First we adopt the work of Kettinger al.’s (1997) for a literature review on business process reengineering implementing methodologies also chosen by Pellerin and Hadaya (2008). This implementation methodology proposes a generic stage-activity framework for conducting business process reengineering projects, because The technology is derived from the methodologies practiced by 25 leading reengineering consulting organisations and Unlike most business process reengineering studies, in which the unit of analysis is the organisation, Kettinger et al.’s (1997) work is cantered on the business process reengineering project, which is more relevant to Information System professionals.

Kettinger et al.’s (1997) framework comprises six stages, each containing the following activities (See Figure 4). The first stage, envision (S1), typically involves the business process reengineering project champion engendering the support of the top management. A task force, including senior executives and individuals knowledgeable about an organisation’s processes, is authorised to target a business process for improvement based on a review of business strategy and IT opportunities in the hope of improving the organisations overall performance.

The second stage, initiate (S2), encompasses the assignment of a reengineering project team, setting of the performance goals, project planning and shareholder/employee notification and ‘buy-in’. This is frequently achieved by developing a business case for reengineering via bench-marking, identifying external customer needs, and cost benefit analysis.

The third stage, diagnose (S3), is classified as the documentation of the current process and sub processes in terms of process attributes such as activities, resources, communication, roles, IT, and cost. In identifying process requirements and assigning customers value, root causes for the problems are surfaced, and non-value-adding activities are identified.

The fourth stage, redesign (S4), a new process design is developed. This is accomplished by devising process design alternatives through brainstorming and creativity techniques. The new design should meet strategic objective and fit with the human resource and IT architecture. Documentation and prototyping of the new process is typically conducted, and a design of new information system to support the new process is completed.

The fifth stage, reconstruct (S5), heavily relies on change management techniques to ensure smooth migration to new process responsibilities and human resources roles. During this stage, the IT platform and systems are implemented, and the users go through the training and transition.

The sixth and last stage, evaluate (S6), requires monitoring of the new process to determine if it met its goal and often involves linkage to an organisations total quality program.

This methodology was empirically derived from the methodologies practiced by 25 leading reengineering consulting firms which takes the management accounting perspective by attempting to reorganise business processes while using information as an enabler then it provides a set of tools and techniques to facilitate the reengineering effort and unlike most BPR studies, in which the unit of analysis is the organisation (Kettinger et al., 1997; Pellerin and Hadaya, 2008). This justifies the use of this methodology to build on the relation of further theories but just to compare and have further opinion let look at another business process reengineering implementation methodology.

A seven-step methodology, as shown in Figure 5, that shows the various steps in IT driven business process reengineering implementation (Davenport and Short, 1998; Armistead and Rowland, 1996). These steps are prioritising processes based on the comparative importance of objectives, identifying the processes to be redesigned, understanding and measuring/benchmarking the existing processes, identifying the appropriate IT tool, designing/building a process prototype, testing the reengineered process, and implementing the changed process.

The first step is to define the objectives of the process redesign which can be cost reduction, time reduction, improvement in output quality and/or improvement of quality of work life. Rarely, organisations become successful in meeting multiple objectives, concurrently. In the second step, selection of the processes to be redesigned is carried out. The two approaches, namely, exhaustive and high-impact approaches are available for the selection of the processes to be redesigned. Exhaustive approach ranks all processes to be redesigned based on the order of urgency prior to the identification of the process to be redesigned whereas the high-impact approach tries to identify only the most important processes which are in conflict with business vision and process objectives. The third step tries to measure the process before redesign in order to avoid repetition and to set a baseline for future improvements. In the fourth step, it is better to have a picture of all latest IT technologies available for redesign prior to the redesign and freezing of the redesigned process under study. The fifth step can be easily dealt with by using IT as a design tool in creating a more generic design of the process under study in arriving at a suitable organisational prototype. After generating the redesigned process prototype, implement the same in one of the units of the organisation to study the actual benefits before launching it on an organisation wide basis and the same is done in the sixth step. If the pilot launch is found successful in meeting the process objectives, launch the redesigned process throughout the organisation which is the seventh and last step in IT-based implementation of the redesigned process.

If both the implementation methodologies are compared there is not just the difference in number of steps between the two methodologies, there is also the difference in the approach in cut-overs where training of users are missing in second as well the pilots and rollouts are mentioned in the later methodology. This goes with Kettinger et al’s (1997) findings that, while business process reengineering implementing methodologies may vary based on philosophical differences, there is enough commonality among the practiced approaches to generally describe a prototypical business process reengineering efforts.

Generic Enterprise Resource Planning Implementing Methodologies

In the past, companies used to decide how they wanted to do business and then made a decision about a software package that best supported their business processes. This was changed with ERP systems that required the business processes to be modified to fit the system (Davenport, 1998). Business Process Reengineering implementation exists ranging from technology enabled re-engineering to clean slate re-engineering. If ERP system is chosen first, then the re-engineering is driven by the chosen ERP system or re-engineering is technology enabled.

The reason why many companies chose to conduct ERP system development was to attempt to solve all their organisational problems without reengineering business processes first. Then the Costs involved with such re-engineering are very low as alteration done on the system is least or none. In clean slate re-engineering, design starts from scratch and ERP system software is highly customised to fit the processes of the enterprise in discussion. ERP implementation significantly impacts company culture, organisational structure, business processes, in addition to procedures and rules.

Furthermore, ERP applications integrate many best business practices and much knowledge that could be worthwhile if included as a part of BPR projects. By taking the best practices inherent in ERP applications, companies can change their processes simultaneously with technological change. As a result, many companies changed their business processes to fit the ERP system requirements, and the possibilities of ERP systems have been used to underpin Business Process Reengineering (Kooch, 2001, Chenn, 2001). As ERP systems have traditionally taken too long to implement, a dynamic and incremental implementation of ERP components is recommended as opposed to massive reengineering. Also pointed by Ahmed (1999) the focus of ERP implementations has shifted from matching business processes with the ERP system to developing “knowledge-workers” that can quickly understand and work with redesigned processes and realise the ERP-enabled benefits.

Boudreau and Robey (2005), suggest a vital importance to acceptance of ERP systems. They also note that if not successfully implemented, users may work around the system and otherwise doom the project to costly duplication of effort, or worse, system failure. A phased implementation approach is highlighted in Robey et al. (2002). It is important to have a structured approach, similar to systems development, for the implementation and maintenance of ERP systems.

Systems development theory uses the concept of a lifecycle and stages in the lifecycle to indicate development of information systems. The waterfall model, incremental model, RAD (rapid application development) model and spiral model are some of the systems development methods prevalent in the literature. Newer approaches to systems development address component-based development using off-the-shelf packages, agile development and the unified process for object-oriented software development (Pressman, 2005). The newer approaches have fewer stages in the development of systems. For example, the unified process which draws upon the best practices of conventional software process models has inception, elaboration, construction and transition phases. A common aspect of all these models is that they focus little attention on implementation and the post implementation of the system.

The literature review undertaken revealed a lack of research with regard to some critical factors of ERP implementation (eg client consultation, schedule and plans), and this could be due to the fact that these factors are related to any information system project, not particularly to ERP project implementation. However, and generally speaking, there has not yet been a common comprehensive or integrative approach to ERP implementation.

Successful ERP project implementation is a complex and difficult task. Implementing an ERP system package causes vast change that needs to be managed carefully to get the full advantages (Bingi et al, 1999; Sor, 1999). More importantly, it has been stressed by many that it is really a mistake to view ERP project implementation as merely an IT project (Davenport, 2000; Milford & Stewart, 2000; O’Leary, 2000).

A major difference between ERP systems and traditional information systems comes from the integrated nature of ERP applications. Implementing an ERP system causes dramatic changes that need to be carefully administrated to reap the advantages of an ERP solution. Holland and Light (1999) cite that the implementation of an ERP software package involves a mix of business process change and software configuration to align the software with the business processes. In that sense, it has become clear through the literature review, and studying the experiences of leading organisations, that the implementation of an ERP system is radically different from traditional systems development. In an ERP system implementation, the key focus has shifted from a heavy emphasis on technical analysis and programming towards business process design, business-focused software configuration (Kelly et al, 1999), and legacy data clean-up (Smethurst & Kawalek, 1999).

In essence, there are several critical and inter-related issues that must be carefully considered to ensure successful implementation of an ERP system project. The framework (Figure 6) presented in this report is the result a major research study undertaken to propose an integrative ‘Critical Success Factors’ view of ERP. ERP system implementation has been subdivided into three levels: strategic, tactical, and operational. Each level contains a number of critical factors. These levels of implementation, however, are not independent of each other, and each level should be used to derive the next level. Moreover, each level requires differing inputs; for example, there is a direct relationship between the implementation level at which a decision is being taken and the characteristics of the information required supporting decision making (Bocij et al, 2008).

Communication

Communication is one of most challenging and difficult tasks in any ERP implementation project (Welti, 1999). Slevin and Pinto (1987) define communication as the provision of an appropriate network and necessary data to all key factors in the project implementation. Communication has to cover the scope, objectives, and tasks of an ERP implementation project (Sumner, 1999). Failure to establish and manage the communication process with stakeholders can lead to a lack of support from stakeholders, disapproval of the deliverables and dissatisfaction.

ERP implementation levels

Strategic level

The decisions made at this level significantly change the manner in which business is being done (Bocij et al, 2008), and these decisions are the responsibility of top management (Schultheis & Sumner, 1995; Turban et al, 2000). This level can be considered as the process of establishing overall goals and of planning how to achieve those goals. Kelly et al (1999) suggested that the strategic level is the premeditated plan for transforming the organisation, enabling it to operate in the new style environment.

Current legacy system evaluation: This includes the existing IT (hardware and software), business processes, organisation structure, and culture. Holland and Light (1999) argue that the nature and scale of problems that are likely to be encountered can be defined by evaluating the existing legacy system (by asking what the status of the enterprise’s legacy system is and how it will affect the transition to ERP and common business processes). It is clear that ERP implementation involves a complex transition from legacy information systems and business processes to an integrated IT infrastructure and common business process throughout the organisation (Gibson et al, 1999).

Project vision and objective: It is very important that the organisation has a clear sense of whom and what it is before implementing an ERP project (Davenport, 2000). A global survey showed that an understanding of business objectives and clear vision are key success factors (Cooke & Peterson, 1998). Slevin and Pinto (1987) define project vision as the initial clarity of goals and general direction. Welti (1999) advises on determining the project vision in the planning phase, particularly within the project scope, where the project scope includes the project definition, objectives, and strategy. He argues that all these components of the project scope are compulsory to create a clear project vision. At this stage in the ERP project, the vision should provide a direction and general objective, and no details are required.

ERP implementation strategy: This will be reviewed in this level to determine the impact of ERP system implementation on the enterprise. Trepper (1999) argues that the organisation’s executive managers must understand how ERP system implementation will impact on the organisation to ensure a smooth transition. Holland and Light (1999) suggest that the propensity of an organisation for change should influence the choice of ERP implementation project strategy. There are two main technical options to implement an ERP system: modify the ERP system package to suit an organisation’s requirements or the implementation of a standard package with minimum deviation from the standard settings. Companies that do not select the second option are liable to face major difficulties (Bancroft et al, 1998; Martin, 1998; Gibson et al, 1999).

Hiring consultants: Due to the complexities of implementing an ERP system, most companies choose to hire consultants to help them select, configure, and implement the system. Welti (1999) argues that the success of a project depends on the capabilities of the consultants, because they have in-depth knowledge of the software. Somers and Nelson (2001) point out those consultants may be involved in different stages of the ERP project implementation. There are hundreds of companies that provide such ERP services. Since it is a critical success factor, it has to be managed and monitored very carefully.

Benchmarking: Al-Mashari and Zairi (2000) argue that benchmarking works essentially at capturing both external and internal best practices related to all aspects of ERP system implementation, and enabling the transfer of knowledge across all levels of project implementation. They argue that benchmarking can play a significant role in shaping the strategic direction to be taken for change introduction using an ERP package.

Tactical level

At the tactical level, also termed managerial level, the medium-term planning of ERP specific organisational issues is largely concerned, where decisions are made by middle managers (Turban et al, 2000). In order to make sure that the enterprise is meeting its targets, objectives of top management are accomplished, and it is not wasting its resources, the tactical level provides middle-level managers with the information they need to monitor the performance of the organisation, control operations, and allocate resources and set policies effectively (Schultheis & Sumner, 1995; Bocij et al, 2008).

Client consultation: Slevin and Pinto (1987) define client consultation as the communication and consultation with, and active listening to all affected parties, mainly the client. It is essential for an organisation to keep its clients aware of its future project to avoid misconception. They also argued that the consultation with clients should occur early in the process; otherwise the chance of subsequent client acceptance will be lowered. In general, this factor has not been thoroughly discussed in the literature reviewed.

Business process change (BPC): As mentioned before, there are two main options to implement ERP syst


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