Accounting and the ERP Systems: A Case Study

Accounting and the ERP Systems: A Case Study

Maria João Machado (Instituto Universitário de Lisboa (ISCTE-IUL), Lisbon, Portugal) and João Gomes (Instituto Universitário de Lisboa (ISCTE-IUL), Lisbon, Portugal)
Copyright: © 2018 |Pages: 10
DOI: 10.4018/IJKBO.2018040103


This article has the following specific objectives: to identify the reasons for implementing SAP ERP; to identify the main benefits and problems resulting from its adoption; to understand in what way accounting is integrated in SAP ERP; to analyse how SAP ERP influences the accountants' role. The chosen method of investigation was the descriptive case study, with recourse to various sources of data collection. These were: semi-structured interviews as the main method of data collection; direct observation; and document collection. This article's main contributions are the following: the resistance to change phenomenon, suggested by theory as a major problem in ERPs implementation, was not found; SAP ERP does not allow all of the accounting objectives to be achieved, making the use additional software a necessity due to its lack of flexibility and the need for specialized technicians when any changes have to be made.
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Literature Review

In the mid-1990s, new hardware and software technologies began to emerge, providing companies with the ability to take advantage of systems that interconnected the whole organization and all its business (Cooper & Kaplan, 1998). These systems, formerly called Enterprise-Wide Systems (EWS), are today best known as Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) systems, which can be defined as software packages that allow the full integration of the information generated and processed within the companies (Davenport, 1998; Ghosh, Yoon, & Fustos, 2013). These systems are organized in different modules, and integrate all corporate information in a single central database (Dechow & Mouritsen, 2005), managing to cover activities from areas as diverse as finance, accounting, human resources, logistics, production, quality, sales, projects, maintenance and marketing (Davenport, 1998). Several researchers argue that databases are indispensable for the management of today's organizations (Azaiez & Akaichi, 2016; Ramos et al., 2017). The operating process of ERP systems is summed up by the existence of a database, that collects and feeds these data into applications organized by modules supporting most of the company’s activities. As new information is entered into the system, all related information is automatically updated (Davenport, 1998). The success of this kind of software has been exponential, and during the 90s still has turned the famous German company SAP (Systems, Applications and Products in Data Processing) into the fastest growing software company in the world because of its main product SAP ERP (Davenport, 1998). According to Scapens, Jazayeri and Scapens (1998) the main SAP modules are divided into finance and accounting, human resources, manufacturing and logistics, and sales and distribution. Several studies have investigated which are the most implemented modules, having concluded that the financial accounting and materials management modules are the most chosen ones (Spathis & Constantinides, 2004; Parlakkaya, Cetin & Akmese 2011). ERPs are thus presented as systems that include the best organizational practices, procedures and tools, able to integrate, analyse, and report information from all areas of business, boosting organizational excellence through full integration (Madani, 2009; Parlakkaya et al., 2011).

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