A (New) Look at User Participation in an ERP

A (New) Look at User Participation in an ERP

Martin Gibbs (Human Resources, Mayo Clinic, Rochester, MN, USA)
Copyright: © 2014 |Pages: 7
DOI: 10.4018/ijkbo.2014070101
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Engaging users in an enterprise resource planning (ERP) implementation is not new. Research espouses the benefits of user participation in such major projects, and often takes it for granted that users are involved. What is missing is an assessment of how best to engage users, when to involve them, and how much decision-making and influence they are allowed. This paper highlights findings from a single case study, and encourages future research to develop a newer understanding of user participation. Key components of successful user engagement include an integrated team approach, a balance of workload, the need for expertise at all levels, organizational and project commitment, effective decision-making, the reduction of competing resources or projects, and the maintenance of user participation post-implementation. As ERP systems mature and companies upgrade and maintain their systems, the concept of user participation should remain a core component of ERP research and practice.
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Individual And Organizational Learning

An ERP is a mightily complex system, with almost countless integration points. If consultants are used as part of the implementation project—either from the vendor or an organization like Deloitte—they will help the project team members learn to an extent. But if the culture is such that growth and learning are encouraged, the users and project team should be allowed to “play” in a test environment and develop a deep knowledge of the system. This knowledge will help them adapt their business processes to the new system, rather than giving up and trying to force the system into the current model.

Users cannot be expected to immediately understand the new ERP system, nor can they know the intricacies of a major systems project. They must therefore be given the opportunity to grow into and learn their role. This learning applies to both those on the technical side and end-users who were engaged in the project. Bjerknes and Bratteteig (1995) labeled the phenomenon “mutual learning”, as the varied groups grew together and made collective decisions.

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