Enterprise Resource Planning, or ERP, is a business management software that integrates various business processes – inventory management, accounting, human resources, and customer relationship management – into a single system. ERP systems are designed to improve efficiency by allowing businesses to manage and access data from all departments and functions in a single location.
This ERP essay explains the role of Enterprise Resource Planning in software development. It then focuses on the cases of ExploreCO & OilCO ERP implementation.
Enterprise Resource Planning in Software Development
The key phases of the SDLC methodology
The development of any project within a business setting is very important and should follow a given process. The System Development Life Cycle (SDLC) methodology comprises of six different phases that must work in coordination to ensure the success of any given project (Amini & Sadat Safavi, 2008). The first phase is the feasibility and analysis stage that helps in determining the end-user requirements. After determining the feasibility of any project, the next phase is the design stage, whereby the preparation of the system and software design takes place based on the requirements specified in the feasibility phase. The system design is useful in determining the project’s requirements for software and hardware (Pandey & Batra, 2013). The third phase is the coding stage, during which the project’s work is subdivided into different units for purposes of developing the code for the design.
The testing phase is the fourth phase. This stage involves analyzing the code to test whether or not it is effective and in line with the system requirements. As such, the phase unit, integration, system and the level of acceptance among end-users are tested.
After testing, the product is deployed to the market. Deployment is the fifth stage that ensures that the customer receives the product for their use, after which it moves to the last stage, the maintenance phase. During the maintenance stage, issues arising from the use of the developed product are identified and corrected.
The alternative approaches of SDLC and the benefits of the alternatives
One of the available alternatives for SDLC is prototyping (Pandey & Batra, 2013). This approach does not include the analysis and design phases but considers the implementation of a prototype as the base of the system, and the use of assumed data to establish whether or not the expected results are achieved. As such, any challenges in the implementation process can be detected prior to the actual project.
The other alternative approach of SDLC is end-user development. The benefit of this approach is that it relies on the end user’s creation of customized applications.
Comparison of the three major ERP implementation categories
The Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) systems are divided into three categories with respect to the activities involved in each of the categories. These categories include the comprehensive ERP integration plan, middle-of-the-road ERP implementation plan, and the vanilla ERP implementation plan (Amini & Sadat Safavi, 2008).
The comprehensive category involves a step-wise implementation of an ERP for multi-national organizations. As such, this approach takes care of ERP’s full functionality during implementation.
Vanilla category of the ERP involves low risk and low ambition implementation approach. Usually, vanilla implementation focuses only on one site and core ERP functionality unlike in the case of the comprehensive category where full functionality is ensured. In addition, the vanilla category uses a small number of system users. In the case of the Vanilla ERP implementation category, the systems are not as complex as in the case of a comprehensive category, and the implementation can be done in a period of 6-12 years. Lastly, the other category of ERP implementation is the middle-road ERP implementation category, which lies between the vanilla and the comprehensive categories. As such, it involves multiple sites and works to ensure ERP implementation for a selected core ERP module. In this case, the level of BPR is very important, though its significance cannot much the case of the comprehensive implementation category. The implementation of systems based on the middle-road approach can take 3-5 years.
ERP implementation methodology
ERP implementation methodology is an approach that is used by organizations to help in providing solutions to different problems that might arise in the organization. Some common ERP implementation methodology includes the BIM, ASAP, Rapid-Re, Fast Track and Total Solution.
The role of change management in the ERP life cycle
A change management plan is very significant in the life cycle of an ERP. For example, the change management plan ensures that all details necessary for the execution of a given system, as well as its release, are available. As such, a change management plan ensures that the project takes into consideration any necessary changes to ensure that the product deployed to customers meets their needs and expectations.
ERP vs SDLC
Difference between ERP and SDLC
There is a notable difference between the life cycle of ERP and the traditional System Development Life Cycle since the ERP life cycle is based on a package-driven approach (Amini & Sadat Safavi, 2008). The figures below highlight the primary difference between ERP and SDLC
The figure below shows the SDCL
Discussion: ERP Implementation
Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) are systems that are customizable and applied in a different business setting to provide solutions within the business to ensure the successful achievement of set goals and objectives (Ravnikar, 2010). Such systems can be used in the management of warehouses, product planning, and control, as well as in administration functions among other sectors of the business. Regardless of the kind of business, the success of ERP implementation is very important for any project (Chang & Park, 2008). As such, the entire process requires a lot of commitment and considerations to ensure that the product is designed and developed according to the needs of the customers.
The top management plays a very significant role in the implementation of Enterprise Resource Planning (Ravnikar, 2010). This can be attributed to the fact that the implementation of the ERP is often complex and big. As such, there is a need for coordination of all the resources involved in the entire process such as budgetary resources, human resources, and time resources, among other types of resources. For this reason, the top management should ensure that all factors of ERP implementation are coordinated effectively to avoid project failure resulting from issues such as user resistance and corporate culture (Andrzej, 2009).
The end users also have a significant role in the implementation of an ERP (Chang & Park, 2008). The end-user is the customer who uses a given product after implementation. As such, the needs, tastes, and preferences of the end user must be factored in during the ERP implementation process. Such consideration ensures that there is no end user resistance whenever the project is completed. For this reason, the end user can regularly provide feedback and suggestions during the course of ERP implementation to ensure that the product released to the market is user-centered.
ExploreCO & OilCO ERP Implementation
Comparison of the implementation of OilCO and ExploreCO
From the case study, it was evident that the two implementations had both similarities and differences. In terms of similarities, implementation of OilCO and ExploreCO adopted critical success factors, modified the software minimally and applied different changes in major elements of their business process to align with their goals and objectives.
On the other hand, OilCO and ExploreCO had several differences in their implementation. First, ExploreCO ensured that all the best people worked on the project on a full time basis, while OilCO did not care about employing qualified staff for the project. Secondly, in the case of ExploreCO, the implementation process was highly focused, while on the side of OilCO, it employed a very large ERP implementation process, as well as set up measures that were only focused on the Oil industry.
Thirdly, ExploreCO employed the services of a qualified project champion, who ensured that the project achieved the set goals and objectives. In addition, the project champion was identified in the case of ExploreCO, and always available to oversee the progress of the project. This ensured that the project champion detected and implemented any necessary changes whenever it was needed. On the other hand, OilCO had a champion. However, the champion was not as identified as in the case of ExploreCO, and thus different people handled the project, thereby lacking consistency.
Reasons of the projects’ success
The projects for both OilCO and ExploreCO were successful because there was a high degree of commitment from the senior management, as well as they employed a governance structure that was appropriate in that it allowed understanding and documentation of critical success factors.
Suggestions for improvement
The success of any project depends on the project major controlling it. In addition, the governance structure, as well as a robust decision making process in any project play an instrumental role in ensuring that a project is completed as expected and on time. As such, OilCO should improve its decision making process to avoid delays in the future. In addition, having one manager in charge of any project can ensure consistency in the project, which is a very important aspect of any project design and implementation since consistency, plays a significant role in the success of the entire process.
Amini, M., & Sadat Safavi, N. (2008). Critical success factors for ERP implementation. SSRN Electronic Journal, 1(3), 1-4.
Andrzej, A. (2009). Risk factors in ERP implementation projects for process oriented. Contemporary Economics, 3(3), 21-35.
Chang, S & Park, K. (2008). Studies on the interrelationship between critical success factors of ERP adoption. The Journal of Information Systems, 17(1), 113-130.
Pandey, S., & Batra, M. (2013). Formal methods in requirements phase of SDLC. International Journal of Computer Applications, 70(13), 7-14.
Ravnikar, F. (2010). The impact of managers on successful ERP implementation. Organizacija, 43(4), 1-23.