According to Dorobat and Nastase (2010), one of the most critical components of successfully implementing ERP systems is the manner in which employees are trained. The authors indicated that that many times the training costs exceed the allocated budgets. Their approach proposes an improved alternative method of monitoring the training activity in an ERP implementation environment using Romanian models. This creates added value for organizations involved in the implementation process due to the economies produce (Dorobat, and Nastase, 125).
Meanwhile, Bradley and Lee (2007) determined that while ERP-related training is important to successful implementation, it is employee perception of such training that is most directly determinative of the success of ERP training programs themselves. More particularly, the authors reported that employees value ease of use and the degree of direct assistance and support that ERP-systems provide in connection with their specific responsibilities. Also, training satisfaction differed based upon job type and gender rather than education level. In addition, they found that post implementation training satisfaction was related to the ease of use and that the current training satisfaction as well as user participation were related to perceived efficiency and effectiveness (Bradley & Lee, 2007, 50).
Similarly, Ashford (2009) found that the approach to ERP system training directly determined the relative success or failure of ERP system integration within organizations. Generally, where organizations plan for and provide an extensive employee training program prior to the ERP system implementation, the results are good. On the other hand, organizations that do not provide comprehensive ERP system training in advance of the ERP systems going live find less success (Ashford, 2009).
The Tellis and Wood article documents an ERP management solution to a problem faced by Fairfield University. In the article, he explores the characteristics of the case methodology of the discipline and then applies technique to Fairfield. The paper begins with an introduction section to familiarize the reader with the case organization and uses it as a model for protocols for researchers in this field. ERP is certainly nothing new and has been subjected to scrutiny and criticism at various times since the 1930's. Tellis noted that as a research tool, it had not had attention in the major research journals and texts in social science about the effects of automation on social organization. He further notes that when used correctly, the case study is accurate and useful. The institution was faced with a declining population of college age students and growing costs of administration. Surveys were distributed full-time faculty and educational administrators to query their opinions about the automated response to the problem and the necessary reorganizations (Tellis).
The study "s objectives include the examination of managerial and economic aspects a rapid acquisition of information technology in an institutional environment.
1. An assessment of the types of computer used in the field of higher education.
2. An evaluation of managerial issues of computing such as the centralization or decentralization of computing, client and server computing as well as aspects of the Internet
3. To establish a basis for the understanding current and future economic aspects of IT acquisition (ibid).
By querying the affected stakeholders and winning their consent, they can be convinced to participate in and help to make the automation process successful. It is necessary (ibid).
This basic methodology has been expanded upon since 1989. In an article by Kwasi Amoako-Gyampah and A.F. Salaam wrote an article about an extension to TAM and the empirically examine it in an ERP implementation environment. In this study, the authors evaluated the impact of a one belief construct, or shared beliefs in the benefits of a given technology. Also, they examined two very widely recognized ERP implementation success factors (such as training and communication) upon a person's perceived usefulness and the perceived ease of use during the technology implementation.
The authors used the data gathered from the implementation of an ERP system and thereby showed that both the training and the project communication's influence the shared beliefs that users form about the benefits of the technology. Also, they influenced the shared beliefs on the perceived usefulness and the general ease of use of the technology. Seemingly, this second factor was surprisingly the more important of the two. By doing this, Amoako-Gyampah and Salam provided empirical and theoretical support for the use of ERP managerial interventions. These included training and communication in order to influence the acceptance of technology because of perceived usefulness and ease of use contribute to behavioral intention to use the technology. In other words, perception was more important than almost anything else. Indeed, if people believed in the system, its implementation was almost assured (Amoako-Gyampah, and Salam 742-743).
While the advantages of ERP have been noted in terms of greater efficiency, one must also see the downside as well. On the down side, disadvantages for an ERP can be that the system customization is problematic. After all, the ERP may not always fit existing software and hardware systems exactly. Also, re-engineering business processes to fit an ERP system may damage competitiveness as well as divert focus from other critical activities. Expense becomes a big factor in the establishment of the new system. ERP can also cost more than less integrated and/or less comprehensive solutions. High switching costs increase vendor negotiating power vis a vis support, maintenance and upgrade expenses, decreasing consumer power and choice in the process. The integration of independent businesses or sub-organizations can create unnecessary dependencies, dependencies that can be a liability in a time of bad markets if the other organization is not efficiently run. Extensive training requirements can divert scarce resources away from vital daily operations (Umble, Haft & Umble, 2003, 243).
However, the genie is out of the bottle so to speak and ERP is here to stay. The economies introduced previously have impelled businesses to push ERP further and have found that if they take in into consideration the stakeholders outside of the organization, the methodology can be more effectively implemented.
While ERP has been focused primarily on the integration of internal business operations, field research took a more practical turn in the early 2000s in order to focus on melding an organization's ERP system to the systems of suppliers and buyers into a seamless network.
As an alternative to this, or as a or supplemental technology patch, Enterprise
Application Integration (EAI) automates the integration process with less effort than that required with ERP. To some degree, EAI can even incorporate ERP, thus serving to connect ERP systems seamlessly. Two different approaches have been investigated in the literature and presented and compared: internalization, represented by ERP and externalization, through the use of EAI (ibid).
The central advantage organic in this software's implementation is that there is a need for a central business plan and strategy. While ERP can bring about the adoption of these standard business processes, EAI helps enterprise integration at all echelons of business object organizations. In this way, ERP supports a central organizational business IT strategy while EAI seamlessly accommodates decentralized business processes for stakeholders on the business end of product and services provided by an organization (Lee, Siau, and Hong, 60).
Although not an advantage usually handled at public stock offerings, companies such as Walmart and Amazon.com have pioneered the integration of ERP and EAI together into a system that links together internal and external stakeholders externally with its RFID tracking system. Their new ERP systems have profitably improved and integrated with other autonomous information systems. EAI allows large retailers as well as other business organizations equipped with the technology to communicate through a common interface layer vs. The old system where people did the job.
Now, everything in the retail system from the amount of merchandise sold to the amount of stock available and pending orders are coordinated together in a well-coordinated web of continuity. In many ways, the web that is used is literally the World Wide Web that seamlessly and efficiently allows the fusion of all of these disparate stakeholders into one coordinated yet autonomous network (Shanks, Sedon, and Willcocks 419-420).
One issue though that has not been addressed in previous studies has been variances across the board in ERP Training and User Satisfaction: A Case Study, there was a survey of 143 employees that were involved in implementing ERP in a mid-sized university (Bradley and Lee 33). The differences are due to a number of factors, including attitudes, differences in job descriptions, differences in software and hardware systems being integrated together, coordinating costs and budgets and a host of other issues. This study is focused on a university environment, which has many similarities to that in private industry. The engine behind using ERP in such situations is due to funding cutbacks. The technology is meant to pick up the slack in personnel cutbacks and reassignments. As always, the success or failure of such efforts is due to the acceptance of these technologies on the part of employees (ibid 33-34).