Enhancing Functional Fit with Continuous Training During the ERP Post-Implementation Phase

Enhancing Functional Fit with Continuous Training During the ERP Post-Implementation Phase

Biswadip Ghosh, Tom Yoon, Janos Fustos
DOI: 10.4018/jisss.2013040103
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Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) systems, such as SAP, feature a rich set of integrated business applications. However, to maximize the long term benefits from ERP implementations, organizations need to careful manage the post-implementation phase and focus on supporting end users to achieve better fit between their business processes and the ERP system features. This study develops a research model based on the resource-based view (RBV) of the firm and finds support for a positive and complementary relationship between continuous training resources, functional fit capability and business process success. An increase in continuous training resources increases the functional fit capability for the organization and is seen to improve business process success. The results support the need to focus on continuous end user training throughout the post implementation phase as a key contributor to ERP systems success for any organization.
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Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) systems have been defined as an integrated set of co-operating business applications software modules that support all departments and functions of an organization, such as marketing, sales, inventory control, procurement, finance, accounting, and human resources (Vassilliadis, 2009). ERP systems are complex information systems that constitute a complete enterprise-wide business solution. These systems also integrate business processes and data/information across the whole organization (Vassilliadis, 2009; Davenport, 2004). Due to the rich integrated functionality and complexity of ERP systems such as SAP/R3, organizations typically use a “no customizations” implementation strategy, whereby the system is implemented off the shelf with limited changes. The organization then attempts to adapt their own business processes to match the embedded logic and “best practices” in the ERP system (Hirt & Swanson, 2001). As a result, many such ERP implementations have met with limited success and inherently necessitate changes in established work processes and frustrate the users (Carr, 2003). ERP system implementation failures are widely reported in the IS literature and include the Fox Meyer Drug company’s bankruptcy, Hershey’s logistics issues (Carr, 2002).

Typical ERP system implementations have four phases – Initiation, Implementation, Stabilization and Post-Implementation. Success in the initiation and implementation phases result in better reporting, operational efficiencies in data entry and higher quality and integrated data across the business (Davenport, 1998). However, current reports indicate that these benefits come at the cost of requiring the organization to change their long established business processes so as to align the work activities with the “best practices” coded in the ERP system (Davenport, 2004; Soh & Sia, 2005; Willis & Willis-Brown, 2002). This conflict is addressed in the Stabilization phase through changes aimed at increasing user acceptance so that users do not by-pass the ERP system in their day-to-day work tasks. These are short-term solutions that may lead to inefficiencies and cumbersome “work around(s)” in organizational processes.

Researchers indicate that after the stabilization phase, businesses that have implemented an ERP system quickly need to focus on the long term to gain any benefits from those systems (Gattiker & Goodhue, 2005). This is possible through careful management of the post-implementation phase allowing the business and users to better utilize the ERP system and maximize the benefits from their ERP investment (Soh & Sia, 2005). Typically organizations go through a series of upgrades/releases of the ERP system in conjunction with organizational support activities such as business process redesign, user training, IT support justifications, and knowledge sharing (Hong & Kim, 2002). Even ERP customizations (Light, 2005) have been popular with organizations to improve the outcomes of their ERP system implementation. In the post implementation phase, the ERP efforts are mostly driven by the business side – the users and business managers in an attempt to better fit the system implementation to the functions of the business (Hirt & Swanson, 2001).

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