Enterprises Resources Planning

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Enterprises Resources Planning

Enterprises Resources Planning

Introduction--The many views of ERP

Speculation on the future development and success of enterprise resource planning (ERP) is the topic of many popular press articles. These articles? typically written by individuals associated with the ERP companies? are often focused on the merits of the featured software. Unfortunately? in order to distinguish the merits of alternate packages? these same authors find it useful to introduce new terms designed to emphasize potential appeal. In reality many of these “new” terms do not actually represent new concepts? but simply the repackaging of existing ideas. The end result of accepting and disseminating these new terms into general discussions on the topic only leads to increased confusion over time.

A case in point is the variability with which the term “ERP” itself has been used over the last decade. The fundamental benefits of ERP systems do not in fact come from their inherent “planning” capabilities but rather from their abilities to process transactions efficiently and to provide organized record keeping structures for such transactions. Planning and decision support applications represent optional additions to the basic transaction processing? query and report capabilities included with a typical system.

Such a realization often comes as a surprise to academics and practitioners alike? having anticipated greater decision support intelligence to be built into ERP packages. This is particularly salient when they discover that simple time series based techniques are used for forecasting or basic trial-and-error techniques are used for master scheduling. Even slightly more advanced techniques (i.e. auto-regression forecasting and linear programming approaches) are typically not part of standard package installations.

Ambiguity about the term ERP has also lead to a relatively limited line of research in the area. Most ERP research to date has involved exploratory surveys? targeting common and ubiquitous issues like “cost”? “time” and “success”. They have also tended to focus on only the initial issues confronting ERP practitioners? such as vendor selection and package implementation (Davenport? 1998). Studies on usage and extendibility for operational and strategic benefit have been much less common? regardless of the fact that such issues most likely represent the motivating long-term rational behind adoption in the first place.

Although the exploratory focus may be interpreted as problematic? perhaps one of the most crippling constraints on the growth of ERP research has been the mere fact that “getting the system to run” often dominates discussions with companies. Consider the operational challenges associated with supporting literally thousands of users? potentially located in many different sites? all accessing a single integrated database. The computer hardware and network technology is complex and the tasks required to keep these operating often becomes the focus of information system practitioners. This complexity may be one of the reasons why attempts to link benefits to ERP investments have proven so difficult.

Because of this difficulty? business academics that associate ERP systems with “software”? rather than “concepts”? may be inclined to simply disregard the role of ERP systems in research and educational ...
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