In today’s dynamic business environment; customer needs, competition, globalization, and technology have combined to produce a powerful effect on the process of delivering goods and services to the marketplace. According to Closs and Stank (1999, p. 59), businesses have abandoned the “vertical, functional organizational structure characteristic of traditional procurement, manufacturing and physical distribution operation in favor of a more horizontal, cross-functional structure that permits integration of knowledge across functional areas.” Enterprise resource planning (ERP) systems, by their multidimensional, integrative, and normative nature, offer the depth of functionality and breadth of integration required for managing global operations of business organizations. Hammer (1999) concludes that the use of ERP software forces firms to become integrated enterprises that demand strong understanding of key business processes and very high level of teamwork. The effectiveness of ERP systems as an integrating mechanism in businesses suggests that ERP software can be used as an integrating mechanism in business school curricula, too. As a result, an increasing number of universities have attempted or are planning to incorporate popular enterprise system software products such as SAP R/3 into the business school curricula (Bradford, Vijayaraman, & Chandra, 2003; Corbitt & Mensching, 2000; Johnson, Lorents, Morgan, & Ozmun, 2004). This article attempts to provide a proactive approach to implementing ERP systems into a business school curriculum.
Key Terms in this Chapter
Enterprise Resources Planning (ERP): Is a software application that integrates all departments and functions across a company - such as accounting, marketing, and purchasing - into a single computer system that can serve each department’s particular needs. When something happens in one area the impact is immediately known throughout the entire organization.
SAP R/3: is SAP’s integrated software solution for client/server and distributed open systems. SAP’s R/3 is the world’s most-used standard business software for client/server computing. R/3 meets the needs of a customer from the small grocer with three users to the multibillion dollar companies. The software is highly customizable using SAP’s proprietary programming language, ABAP/4. R/3 is scalable and highly suited for many types and sizes of organizations.
Business Process: can be defined as a set of activities that creates value for an internal or external customer. On the one hand, business processes refer to the workflows within a company. On the other hand, business processes refer to the transactions that take place between companies, such as: offers, price negotiations, purchasing agreements, and orders. Software that reproduces these business processes, therefore, can be both internal (ERP system) as well as external (e-commerce software).