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.


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