Week 8 – Project Managers

What skills and attributes do you think an ERP project manager must have? do you think these skills should include functional and/or technical knowledge of the product? Why/why not – justify your answer

A project manager’s responsibilities is to execute a project in a timely and effective manner. They must inhibit leaderships attributes, to inspire, motivate and encourgae the team members to productively work toward the common goal. They must have a large skill set to be able to face any challenege, including communication, time managemnet, cost efficieny and change management. Project managers must be able to make decsions, they will be faced with constant arising questions, and they must make an informed decsion based on their knowledge and skill set.

Project managers should have a functional understanding of the product, they need to be able to understand what their IT staff, who have the in depth technical knowledge, is saying and their recommendations about the product. A project manager should not need in depth understanding to steer their team through the project. They do need to be convincing, and show their understanding when talking to vendors, and they need to be able to understand whether the test of a system has gone well or not to ensure their project is running efficiently. A project manager utalises his/her team’s skills to the projects need, thats why they do not need a technical insight to the product.

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Week 9 – Adopting an ERP System

1. If an organisation has business processes that do not match and commercially availale ERP, should the organisation adopt an ERP? Provide factors for and against and suggest other possible considerations that would factor in your reasoning.

ERP systems are designed to assist and suport organisarions business processes to help them reach their business goals. They have developed systems that fit around the existing processes to centralise them and it make it easier for businesses. The reasons for adopting an ERP system include:

  • Efficiency and cost. ERP systems simplify business processes making them more efficient and meeting dealines easier. ERP systems also reduce inventory costs.
  • Daily management: ERP systems simplify daily tasks, providing management with tools to make the processes more cohesive.
  • Strategic planning. As well as daily tasks, ERP systems help pave the way for succeding in long term goals.
  • Data. ERP systems are designed to obtain data quivkly and efficiently, and it is centralised, with no duplicates.

However, not all ERP systems meet an organisations processes, and could be little to no use to the company at all. These are reasons to not adopt, especially by organisations that have business processes that do not fit an existing ERP system out there:

  • Insufficient capital. It won’t be efficient to adopt an ERP system if the organisation has minimal capital.
  • Sophisticated Hardware and software Involvement. To adopt an ERP, sophisticated software, hardware, equipment’s will need to be provided if this is not possible; it is better not to implement an ERP system. This includes needing the IT staff suport to be able to implement the system.
  • Organisational Résistance. There may be high organisational resistance to change.
  • Maintenance cost. An ERP system requires constant maintance to stay relevant and helpful, if an organisation will not have the funds to keep up this maintenance they should not adopt.

Not all commercially available ERP systems are going to fit all organisations, there are some alternatives that an organistion should consider, if they are thinking about adopting:

  • Business Process Re-engineering (BPR).This option is taken to redesign the process to create value for the customer, and then develop in-house applications or modify an ERP system package to suit the organizations requirements. This would be a customized solution considering the organization’s structure, culture, existing IT resources, employee needs and promises relatively less disruption to routine work during the change programmer.
  • Business Process Management (BPM). Business Process Management (BPM) is the next natural step in the evolution of any business that wants to go beyond the transactional efficiencies accomplished with Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) to achieve competitive advantage.

2. Answer the following questions:

a) What was the most difficult assessment item you completed so far in COIS12073 this term?

While I found the blogs to be very demanding, the case study had to be the most difficult. Even with the research conducted in assessment item one, I found it a massive struggle to extensively talk about why I had choosen a certian path, making my assesment very bland and probably not meeting the critera.

b) What was difficult about it and how would you suggest it could be improved?

It was difficult discussing in lengths my theories, and did really highlight that I did not have a great depth of knowledge about the situation. I also founf the assesment to be rather ambigous, and I had many moments of doubt. Personally, I work better in a structured and well explained environment, and I felt I had too much room to explore, and was not sure where to go. But that is just how I am, and those were my personal struggles that may actually be very liberating for other students.

c) If you could provide three pieces of advice to a student who will be doing this course next term what would they be?

My three pieces of advice to a srudent taking this subject next term would be; 1. to keep on top of the blogs, if you can get them done the same day as your lecture, it is just one less thing to worry about before it all piles up. 2. All the assessment work is essentially one big assessment but it has been broken down, so spend the time needed on each component and you will end up with a quality assignment. 3. Read the text book, it can be very bland, but it really does help to make the slides make a lot more sense!

d) How will you be able to use this knowledge/these skills in your future career?

I want to move into a career of logisics, where ERP systems play a massive role in the success of the procurement and supply of products and materials. This subject has given me an insight into how it works and what is an efficeint system and what is not, depending on the business. I will be able to take with me, an understanding of whether the ERP system in place is practical for achieving maximum capacity.

Week 6 – Stuff-Up.Org

Stuff-Up.Org has an ailing set of in-house developed legacy systems. It has been decided that the IT departments will be tasked to investigate the possibility of adopting an ES. If they recommend ES adoption, then it has also been decided that they will be tasked with evaluating products and recommending a product to the CEO. What might be wrong with this situation? What problems do you see arising?

Many organisations with an ailing legacy system, make the decision to investigate the possibility of adopting an Enterprise System.  The decision to adopt an Enterprise System is due to its new technology and ability to perform a task more efficiently than the organisations existing legacy system. An organisation needs to evaluate whether Enterprise System products will be a feasible option for the organisation at all. This is decided by producing such reports and feasibility studies. During the IT departments research they should take into consideration the inclusion of other departments to determine the benefits and feasibility of an Enterprise System for the organisation as a whole.  If the other departments are not included in this process it may result in the adoption of an unecessary, unfeasible and unbenifitial Enterprise System approved by the CEO that may not have been required.

Week 5 – Customisation

Many experienced ERP implementers will say there are two rules you should follow when implementing these systems: 1. don’t not customise your ERP, 2. See rule 1. why do you think this is? what are the risks of customisation? What does a need to customise say about the willingness or an organisation the effect of BPR?

 

The implementation of an ERP system is complex and has a high level of risk of failure, and that is just the “vanilla” systems. Experienced ERP implementers will strongly advise against customised ERP systems for a number of different reasons and perceived risks, including costs, training and time.

The risks of implementing a customised system incurs extra costs. Purchasing an ERP system that is intended on customisation is expensive on its own, then the development of the customised system needs to be completed by experienced and skilled implementers, which also incurs hefty wages. The complexity of a customised system can be quite difficult to teach to staff that are not “tech savvy” and can make training extensive and costly, and more issues could arise from non-specialised personnel trying to use the system. The development of a customised ERP system can be time consuming and may result in the company missing out on potential business opportunities. Technology is rapidly progressing, and software is constantly requiring updates to stay relevant, a customised systems does not have a update provided by the vendor to fit the customised system, making it very hard for the company to upgrade their system appropriately.

 

When implementing a new ERP system, BPR plays a huge role here, because the implementation of a new system reengineers the company’s systems processes and can be quite a big change to the way things are done within the company. A company wanting to implement an ERP system can suggest that they are timid to change and would rather spend the time and money in developing a customised system then, implementing a “vanilla” system and training staff for the new system and adjusting to new processes.

Week 4 – Vendor Software Patches

ERPs usually require frequesnt application of vendor software patches in order to address minor security/functionality issues and bugs. Not applying these patches can result in the vendor withdrawing support for the ERP. This process occurs in Operation stage. Moreover larger updates, requiring mini ERP implementation projects, can occur as frequently as every 3 years. What are the implications for organisations adopting an ERP? Do you think the text captured the complexity of this? Why/Why not?

ERPs require frequent application of vendor software patches in order to adress minor issues and bugs, this occurs in the Operation/post go live stage because thats when the system is monitored for performance and maintained to ensure that it still works properly. By not having venodrs frequently monitoring and patching the system, the system can become to overwhelmed by issues and bugs that the vendor no longer wants to support the system. By frequently applying these small patches, larger updates which usually occur every three years will not be as significant. These are implications that the organisation incur when adopting an ERP system, it is something hat needs constant maintence and de-bugging. While this is a constant cost to the organisation, the ERP system ultimatley benefits the business if looked after apprpriately.The other cost implication for organisations adopting, is the training of staff, not a large number of staff are going to be tech-savy and be able to immediatly grasp the system, this will cause an intial lack in productivity.

The text provided, when first read, does not appear to be a complex task. For some one with limited knowledge about ERP systems and IT as a whole, that comes across as a simple task of applying patches where deemed neccesary and testing to ensure it now works theyw ay it should. From reading up on how to answer this question, it has become evident that software patches are complex, costly, and can hold back an organisations productivity.

Week 3 – ERP Processes

ERPs are often touted as providing ‘best practice’ in functionality and business processes. However, many organisations have their own business processes and often do not want to change. If an organisation is unwilling to change its business processes, can it gain any value from an ERP? how could this be achieved? What are the risks?

An ERP is a system designed to integrate all business processes and data into a single system that can be used throughout the organisation to help the sharing of data in real-time. However, this integration will alter business processes in order to make the single system consistant throughout the departments, and organisations can be timid to this change.

Although the organisation may be unwilling to change their business processes, it can still gain value from the ERP system. ERP’s are often touted as providing ‘best practice’ because there has research proof that an implementation of an ERP system has allowed organisation to fulfill business objectives such as flowing communication between departments, quicker response time between customers and suppliers, accurate and speedy decision making, and cost reductions. The ERP ensures these objectives because of all the data and processes being in the same place it ensures that all departments have got access to the correct and current information. Customised ERP systems can be developed for business unwilling to change, however this rather undiserable to organisations, as it can be very costly. so most organisations install, what is reffered to as a ‘vanilla’ system, which is generic to most organisations.

Implementing an ERP systems comes with many risks, a big one is failure. The organisation could invest their money into the ‘vanilla’ system and it could completely clash with all business processes. It may be to difficult, to timely and costly to train the staff to use the new system as it could stray completely from the old system. By insatlling a ‘vanilla’ system the organisation is not gaining any competitive advantage, as they have not added anything to the organistion that another may have. While there are risks in implementing an ERP system, they do offer many long-term benefits.

 

Reference 

Sarmad Alshawi, Marinos Themistocleous, Rashid Almadani, (2004) “Integrating diverse ERP systems: a case study”, Journal of Enterprise Information Management, Vol. 17 Iss: 6, pp.454 – 462

In this reference they discuss what an ERP system is, the problems with ERP, the importance to use ERP’s to integrate data, and use a case study and methodolgy to demonstrate the need for ERP integration.

This reference is helpful to my assessment because it talks about the importanc of integration, and I need to use that an opening argument as to whether CQU should modify their existing student ERP system or should they start from scratch by purchasing a new ERP system to put both CQU and CQ Tafe on one. The case study they use is helpful because it lays out how I should be coming to my own conclusion about what I should do with my case study.

Week 2 – Shadow Systems

Shadow systems are frequently used as a justification for the implementation of ERPs. Shadow systems are often, but not always, reflective of practice and data storage needs in particular functional silos. Yet oddly, the implementation of an ERP doesn’t always eliminate these systems– sometimes, the number of them increases. Suggest possible causes. What threat do these systems pose to integration? Who or what else might be threatened by the existence of these systems?

Shadow Systems is a term to describe an application developed by an end user to mimic the functions of the system in place but to the end users custom needs. Shadow systems are regarded as undesirable to an organisation’s Enterprise System (ES), they are believed to undermine ES implementation, and should be eliminated (Jones, D, 2004). However, shadow systems are beneficial to the end user, they are cost effective, they take less time to develop, and are flexible.

Even though businesses strive to implement effective ERP systems that would be versatile between departments and user friendly, shadow systems still arise due to many varying reasons. Some of these reasons will include:

  1. Lack of communication within departments
  2. System inflexibility
  3. Lack of training
  4. Users lack of trust in the implemented ERP system
  5. Poor data conversion 
  6. Lack of support from management

Shadow Systems ultimately cannot be entirely eliminated when end-users have access to tools such as, excel or access (Behrens, S & Sedera, 2004). While shadow systems have the stigma of undesirable, they are actually a reasonably solid solution for the end users. End users create these shadow systems so they are able to use the implemented system to their ability and that way the organisation is not using resources for multiple reviews of the system to keep it up-to-date with staff, and for training multiple staff to use the system. while this is cost effective and flexible solution, shadow systems pose issues for the organisation, such as:

  1. Security
  2. Inconsistency of data
  3. Scalability 

 

Implemented systems by the organisation may hold sensitive and confidential information, hence, shadow systems developed by an end user computer may incur in lack of security and subject to hacking. An ERP system is designed to offer accurate information in real-time through out the organisation. A shadow-system is separate from the ERP so the information retrieved through a shadow system may not be the correct of complete information, and might result in decisions being made off false information. While the shadow system does not run directly off the ERP system, it does run coincide with it, and an ERP system will forever be making advances, the scalability of the end user may be limited and not be able update their system with the organisational system.

In relation to Assessment 1

Jones, D, Behrens, S, Jamieson, K & Tansley, E n.d., The rise and fall of a shadow system: lessons for enterprise system implementation, pp. 1-15, viewed 10 July 2013, http://davidtjones.wordpress.com/publications/the-rise-and-fall-of-a-shadow-system-lessons-for-enterprise-system-implementation/

This publication discusses what an Enterprise System (ES) and an Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) is and the authors use a case study relating to CQU  to explain and illustrate just how an ES and ERP work.

This reference is helpful to my assessment because it so closely relates to the case study, in regards to the research of CQU and the author’s examples of ES and ERP within the institution of CQU.