Theory versus Application: A Study to Determine the Right Choice in Deploying an Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) System

Theory versus Application: A Study to Determine the Right Choice in Deploying an Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) System

Francisco Chia Cua (Bang College of Business, Kazakhstan Institute of Management, Economics and Strategic Research (KIMEP), Almaty, Kazakhstan) and Steve Reames (Department of Management and Marketing, College of Business, Angelo State University, San Angelo, TX, USA)
DOI: 10.4018/ijisss.2013100104
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This paper discusses the critical use and lessons learned from the single case model while implementing an Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) system at a leading university. The researcher examined one university’s business ERP in the deployment of a new enterprise system, a complex phenomenon which took place over several stages and involved different players at each stage. The paper discusses the case system inclusive of the grounded case theory, diffusion of innovation theory, innovation-process theory and their application during the ERP system implementation.
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The normal considerations in the development of an effective Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) system are: First, the underlying theory of ERP; secondly, the most suitable method to construct the theory; thirdly, a replication of the method(s) and the findings; and fourthly, the contributions that ERP will provide to an organization. It will contribute to, according to Weber (2003), a clear context of the overall development of an ERP system.

This paper attempts to make the highly technical development of an ERP system easier to understand. After a two-year study of a public university’s radical switch to a new ERP system, the researcher uncovered four intertwining complex issues: (i) the matchmaking stage, (ii) the business case, (iii) the perceived attributes of the innovation, and (iv) the decision points. These domains (Bhaskar, 1978) of the study were grounded in the Diffusion of Innovations (DOI) theory.

A brief summary of the actual scenario is as follows (all names have been disguised): When Craig Smith became Director of Finance for the University of Australasia, he soon noticed flaws in the university’s enterprise systems. Studying data gathered by an analyst appointed by his predecessor, Craig realised that the system was barely meeting user requirements and would probably have to be replaced. Since launching a new enterprise system would be a radical change, Craig hoped to make the transition as smooth as possible. Knowing that change management is a critical aspect in the implementation (Wei et al., 2005) of a new enterprise system, not underestimating the efforts required to manage change (Robey et al., 2002), and hoping to make the transition as smooth as possible, he hired Kevin Peters, of Providence Consulting, as a third-party change agent. Kevin guided the University through the structured process of Request for Information (RFI), Request for Proposal (RFP), and Business Case Development (BCD) stages. Through the RFP phase, Vendor F was chosen to provide a software package for the university. At the end of the BCD stage, Craig presented his entire business case for the approval of the University Council. The goal for the university was, obviously, to enforce quality into the methodology and to minimize risk associated with the ERP case design.

The question is: Isn’t the analysis of the buying decision made after the submission of the ERP case good enough to clarify the issues of the ERP system under consideration?Why do the innovation and its adoption, rather than the organisational buying decision, provide the appropriate context for analysis? Forthcoming sections address the above mentioned considerations, utilizing several lenses to conduct the reflection.

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