Integral Logistics Management — Operations Management and Supply Chain Management Within and Across Companies

9.3.2 Factors That Influence Individual Acceptance and the Range of Implementation of ERP Software

Intended learning outcomes: Describe factors that influence individual acceptance of ERP software. Disclose factors that influence the range of implementation of ERP software. Differentiate between important factors and less important factors.

It is not easy to quantify the success of implementing an ERP software package. Figure has already shown that success should not be measured against explicitly worded corporate objectives, since these are influenced by the logistics used, the product design process, and factors outside the company’s control, rather than by the software. One study [Mart93] adopted “PPC accep­tance” and “Range of PPC implementation” as its measured variables. Here, PPC means PPC software and, more broadly, ERP software. Conse­quently, it is better to speak of the acceptance and range of implementation of ERP soft­ware below. Many of the factors can as well be transferred to SCM software. The study was carried out in 100 firms. 900 people were surveyed, particularly those who regularly work with the software. Analysis of the ques­tion­naires revealed extremely high acceptance of ERP software at the individual level: The people questioned felt that the package more or less met their expec­ta­tions. Figure shows the factors that influence individual acceptance.

Under personal features, education, vocational training, experience, and position within the company had no significant influence over the individual acceptance of ERP software, whereas it was affected by general data processing knowledge and experience and the support of colleagues.

Of the factors that influenced the support for employees during implementa­tion, the duration and breadth of training, satisfaction with the training, and the opportunity for participation all had significant influence over acceptance, which rose steadily as the number of days of training increased. No “saturation point” was identified, even with a high number of training days ([Mart93], p. 102). It also appears that certain deficits in the software can be overcome with the aid of training.

The most important factors appeared to be information on the reasons for im­ple­menting ERP software, combined with cooperation between de­part­ments, planning and organization, and the time available out of normal daily work. The extent to which the data had to be revised and, unexpecte­dly, supported from senior management appeared to be much less important.

For the user’s opinion of the ERP software, the most important factor was whether the individual agreed that the adopted software was generally suitable for his or her own work. Work psychology concepts expressed by the scope for action also played a central role. This means that users are given the freedom to decide the order in which they perform their tasks and the sequence of activities within each task, even after implementation. On the other hand, the layout of screens and lists and, with the exception of error messages, other components associated with user friendliness (help functions, familiarization period, error correction) appeared to be less important.

Fig.         Factors that influence individual acceptance of ERP software. (From [Mart93]).

To summarize, the reasons for implementation, good training, freedom of choice in work, and suitability for an employee’s own work are all important factors in the acceptance of an ERP software package.

The range of implementation of the ERP software was then identified with reference to the factors of “time since implementation started,” “number of functions implemented,” and “degree of distribution.” For the first factor, the sobering result from the questionnaire was an average time of 4.3 years, even though all the companies questioned were either in the process of implementation or had just completed this phase. The number of functions implemented was derived by counting the number of modules, such as Sales, Stockkeeping, and so forth. Thirteen such functions were implemented on average. The degree of distribution was calculated by dividing the number of people working with the ERP software by the total number of people working in the operational departments. The range of implementation was derived from the combination of the three values. Figure shows a selection of the factors that might influence the range of implementation.

Fig.         Factors that influence the range of implementation of ERP software. (From [Mart93]).

The company features (total number of employees, influence from the group level, company type, and branch of industry) had just as little influence over the range of implementation as the data processing equipment used (hardware, operating system, or cost of software). The selected ERP software also had no influence over the range of implementation, although it did appear to matter whether it was the first implementation of such software or a replacement for an existing package. This result is particularly interesting in view of the opinion that, “Every ERP software package is good.”

Of the project features, the importance of “ownership” of the project was key. The most successful projects were those in which responsibility was held solely by the Organization and Data Processing Department, rather than by a specialist department or two or more departments. This is one of the most unexpected results of the survey. It can be explained by the fact that, in an SME environment (small- or medium-sized enterprise), responsibility for the ERP software probably lies with employees in the Organization and Data Processing Department, rather than the specialist departments.

The number of levels of the management hierarchy that receives training is also very important. Training must be received by at least the top level (board) and the bottom level (group leader). It is also important to adopt a professional procedure for evaluating standard software (visiting reference customers, vendor tests using the company’s own data, analysis of the current situation, list of requirements) and clear project management (appointing employees for the project, establishing a control committee and project team). In contrast, the number of project teams, team members and represented departments, and the project leaders and the amount of time they are able to devote to the project are less important.The average acceptance of the ERP software, which is derived from the in­dividual acceptance scores, also has a significant influence over the range of implementation.

To summarize, the survey shows that, for the acceptance and range of implementation of ERP software, the characteristics of the software are important with regard to two points. First, individuals must believe that it is suitable for their own work and that they will retain freedom of choice in their work. Equally important is the support provided during implemen­tation, the employee training, and the quality of the project management in general. If these requirements are fulfilled, it is possible to gain acceptance for and implement any of a num­ber of ERP software products, which ultimately leads to the view that “Every ERP software package is good.” This opinion is normally expressed by those who work with the ERP software every day and is not necessarily applicable to people who only use it sporadically.

Course section 9.3: Subsections and their intended learning outcomes