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Enterprise Systems in the Business Curriculum Implementation by ihm18500

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									                Enterprise Systems in the Business
        Curriculum: Implementation Considerations
       and Recommendations for Organizational and
           End-user Information Systems Programs
                                                                                                 Chia-An Chao

        Enterprise resource planning (ERP) systems have been widely adopted by large, multi-national
        corporations and mid-sized businesses in the U.S. and abroad. The increasing number of
        organizations running enterprise systems has prompted business schools to implement enterprise
        systems in their curricula. In addition to increasing graduates’ marketability, the integrated
        nature of enterprise systems and the positive impact they may have on students’ learning is
        another attraction for schools seeking ways to enhance their students’ learning experience.
        This article provides an overview of ERP systems and ERP vendors and university partnerships.
        ERP curriculum integration models and implementation status, challenges, and benefits are
        also examined. Finally, implications of ERP systems for Organizational and End-user
        Information Systems (OEIS) programs and recommendations for integrating ERP systems into
        OEIS courses are offered.

In recent years, enterprise resource planning              Enterprise Systems Overview
(ERP) systems have been implemented in
businesses, government agencies, and higher                As an enterprise-wide information system, ERP
education institutions in the U.S. and abroad.             integrates a range of business functions and
Businesses ranging from those in the aerospace             data—accounting and controlling, human
and defense to high tech to utility companies              resources management, sales and distribution,
spent millions of dollars migrating from                   production planning, and materials
mainframe to ERP systems in the years preceding            management—in a single system. ERP systems
2000, partly due to concerns for the “millennium           are “comprehensive, packaged software solutions
bug.” Since then, ERP system adoptions have                [that] seek to integrate the complete range of a
slowed down among large corporations according             business’s processes and functions in order to
to the Gartner Group (“Gartner says,” 2003), but           present a holistic view of the business from a
medium-sized corporations continue to adopt                single information and IT architecture” (Klaus,
ERP systems (Woodie, 2005). With the                       Rosemann, & Gable, 2000, p. 141). ERP
popularity of ERP systems in the industry and              systems have been implemented to replace
with increasing employer demands, business                 multiple information systems used in various
schools in the U.S. have begun incorporating ERP           departments. While these disparate systems may
systems in their curricula to enhance students’            have features custom made for specific business
learning experience and to increase their                  functions, many of them have incompatible
graduates’ marketability. This article provides an         architecture, and keeping them working together
overview of ERP systems, the status of ERP                 is inefficient and expensive. As a comprehensive
curriculum adoption in U.S. business schools,
enterprise systems implementation considerations,          Chia-An Chao is Assistant Professor, College of
and implications of enterprise systems curriculum          Business, Indiana State University, Terre Haute,
for OEIS programs.                                         Indiana.




Information Technology, Learning, and Performance Journal, Vol. 22, No. 3                                     83
84                                                                                                 Chao


system based on a single underlying database,         requirements planning into production planning
ERP allows users in different departments across      and control. Then, in the 1980s, a host of
an organization to access business data in real       computer-aided systems emerged. Collectively,
time via a standard user interface.                   these tools were known as Computer Integrated
     According to Gartner Group research (as          Manufacturing (CIM) software. Once again, these
cited in Gonsalves, 2003), the top five ERP           computer-based tools broadened support beyond
vendors in 2003 were SAP, Oracle, PeopleSoft,         manufacturing planning into the product design
Microsoft-Great Plains, and Sage (the maker of        and production processes. In the product
Best Software, including Peachtree, MAS series,       development cycle, CIM tools included computer-
CPA series, and Act!). In 2002, the market            aided engineering, computer-aided design, and
leader, SAP, garnered 25% of the sales revenue,       computer-aided planning software. In the
while Oracle and PeopleSoft had 7% and 6.5%,          production process, companies made use of
respectively. From a customer-base perspective,       computer-aided manufacturing and computer-
SAP has over 12 million users in over 120             aided quality assurance software.
countries. The worldwide market for ERP                    As the data and process modeling techniques
software totaled $23.6 billion in 2004 according      developed in CIM software and the ability to
to AMR Research (Woodie, 2005). Also in               integrate complex business processes became
2004, SAP’s market share increased to 40              more mature, the concept of extending support
percent, partly due to the uncertainty created by     beyond the manufacturing functions to the entire
the takeover of PeopleSoft by Oracle.                 organization led to the development of enterprise-
                                                      wide systems. In addition to managing
From MRP to ERP II                                    production logistics, ERP systems also support
                                                      functions, such as accounting, controlling, and
While ERP product names, such as SAP and              human resources. Now that organizations have
Baan, began to appear in information systems          been using ERP for several years, they wanted to
trade and academic journals only in the recent        get more out of their investment in ERP systems.
past, the roots of enterprise systems can be traced   In the late 1990s to early 2000s, demands for IT
as far back as the 1950s (Klaus et al., 2000;         support beyond operational efficiency prompted
Lederer-Antonucci, Corbitt, Stewart, & Harris,        ERP vendors to add new modules, such as
2004). When examining an ERP system, it is            customer relationship management (CRM) and
apparent that the name and the underlying             supply-chain management (SCM) to the core ERP
concepts of its design evolved from systems used      system. The second wave ERP, or ERP II (a
in manufacturing and production planning back in      term coined by the Gartner Group), supports
the 50s and 60s. In the late 1950s, Material          inter-organization communication and customer
Requirements Planning (MRP) software was              and partner relationship improvement (Hawking,
developed to support calculation of material          McCarthy, & Stein, 2004; Lederer-Antonucci et
consumption. Raw materials, product parts, and        al., 2004). In addition, business intelligence
bills of material used for manufacturing were         functionalities are added to ERP systems to
created and maintained in the software.               support the strategic use of information. From
Combining material master and bill-of-material        ERP to ERP II, the focus shifted from back office
data with bill-of-material processors and             efficiency to improving inter-organizational
forecasting algorithms, MRP software increased        collaboration and better decision making through
the efficiency in the computation of materials        optimized business processes across
required for production.                              organizational boundaries.
     In the 1970s, MRP packages evolved into
Manufacturing Resource Planning (MRP II)              Characteristics of ERP
software with the addition of capacity planning
and scheduling functions. These new functions         While there are a number of ERP packages on
extended the support beyond material                  the market, they share certain common
Enterprise Systems in the Business Curriculum                                                        85


characteristics. First, to be classified as           implemented ERP have reported numerous
enterprise software, an ERP system must be able       benefits.
to support all the basic functions of a business,
such as procurement, sales order processing,          Business Benefits of ERP
payment processing, production planning and
execution, accounting and controlling, and human      An ERP system is, in essence, an online
resources management. Another characteristic of       transaction processing system; thus, higher system
ERP software is that the systems are packaged         and operational efficiency can be expected from
software and do not require coding; however, they     ERP systems. In a study conducted by Spathis
do require configuration. Configuration, or           and Constantinides (2003), the top four ERP
selecting appropriate functionalities from ones       system benefits reported by 45 companies were
provided by the software vendor, enables ERP          as follows: 1) increased flexibility in information
software to adapt to specific business                generation; (2) improved quality of financial
requirements. In order to configure the system        reporting; (3) increased integration of
correctly, detailed documentation of business         applications; and (4) easy maintenance of
processes and requirements is an important part       databases. In another study of 163 organizations
of the system implementation process. In              that have implemented enterprise systems,
addition to business process analysis, job roles      Davenport, Harris, and Cantrell (2002) identified
and responsibilities of all system users are          benefits achieved by those organizations. The top
documented and analyzed to create user profiles.      10 benefits were: (1) improved financial
Employees are then assigned profiles and granted      management; (2) faster and more accurate
access to appropriate system functions.               transactions; (3) improved management decision
     The third characteristic of ERP systems is the   making; (4) improved inventory and asset
use of a single database for storing both master      management; (5) ease of expansion/growth and
and transaction data across functional areas. The     increased flexibility; (6) fewer physical resources
database is typically very large; SAP R/3 release     and better logistics; (7) cycle time reduction; (8)
4.7 has close to 40,000 tables. Master data           improved customer service and retention; (9)
(such as customer master, vendor master,              headcount reduction; and (10) increased revenue.
material master, general ledger, pricing, etc.)            Users in these organizations reported
minimizes data entry and enables employees’           significant reductions in transaction processing
access to consistent and accurate data. Access to     time and errors and elimination of the hassle of
master data is tightly controlled to ensure data      maintaining legacy systems. With access to
security. Another characteristic of ERP systems       accurate and real-time data on an integrated
is the costly and challenging implementation          system with a standard user interface, there are
process. ERP implementation projects are multi-       benefits besides system and operational
million dollar capital investments. Besides           efficiency. Users in these studies reported better
tackling a very complex system and coordinating       management processes, such as improved
the involvement of a multitude of business units,     coordination between departments, increased
dealing with culture change is an important part      internal communication, and improved
of the challenge (Davenport, 1998). For many          management decision making.
business units, they had to adjust from having
almost a free rein over selecting and managing        Enterprise Systems in the Business
their own information system to working with a        Curriculum
centrally defined and controlled system. The
prohibitive costs and high risks involved in the      With a large number of Fortune 500 companies
implementation may have deterred some                 running enterprise systems, along with many
businesses from adopting an enterprise solution;      medium-sized businesses, the popularity of ERP
however, companies that have successfully             has prompted business schools in the U.S. and
                                                      abroad to implement enterprise systems in their
86                                                                                                      Chao


curricula. Besides keeping pace with information        pricing process and accounting principles, but
technology developments in the business world,          they may not understand how pricing affects
some business schools added ERP systems to              order processing and account settlement. Critics
their curricula to overcome two challenges of           of the “stovepipe” curriculum structure point out
business education: fragmented curricula and            that the artificial boundaries are a reflection of the
passive learning. The following are reviews of the      faculty’s training and specialization areas, instead
business education challenges, the potential of         of real-world business practice. However,
enterprise systems as an enabler of curriculum          breaking down the boundaries is not easy, given
integration and active learning, and the current        the unique culture of individual disciplines and
status of ERP implementation in the business            complex politics.
curriculum.
                                                        Passive Learning
Artificial Business Curriculum
Boundaries                                              In addition to the curriculum structure, another
                                                        business education challenge is the knowledge
Since the 1980s, researchers have pointed out           transmission model of teaching in many
that the way the business curriculum is structured      professional schools (business schools included).
does not reflect business practice (Behrman &           Under the knowledge transmission model,
Levin, 1984; Buckley, Peach, & Weitzel, 1989;           professors impart knowledge to students through
Mandt, 1982). More recently, the preparedness           lectures, case studies, and examinations. While
of business graduates for a work environment that       there are exceptions—as more and more schools
has been redefined by the networked economy is          are recognizing the importance of experiential
in question (Candy & Crebert, 1991; Corbitt &           learning—lectures, case studies, and exams are
Mensching, 2000; Holter & Kopka, 2001; Linder           still the prevalent modes of instruction in many
et al., 1992; Selen; 2001). Business graduates’         classrooms. Hands-on, real-world experiences
knowledge and skill deficiencies identified in the      are often limited to internships. However, without
literature range from general competencies, such        a heavy emphasis on experimentation and critical
as communication, teamwork, critical thinking,          reflection throughout the students’ academic
and problem solving, to business specific               study, active construction of comprehensive
knowledge, i.e., how businesses work in real life.      understanding of business processes and
     Critics attributed such deficiencies to the lack   functions is difficult. As a result, many students
of systematic, cross-functional integration in the      may experience the three learning pathologies
curriculum until the capstone course in the             that Shulman (1999) identified: amnesia
students’ senior year. In many business schools,        (forgetting what one has learned), fantasia
students acquire knowledge and skills in                (misunderstanding what one has learned), and/or
individual business areas: accounting, finance,         inertia (inability to apply what one has learned).
information systems, management, marketing,                   In all fairness, the lack of experiential
and operations management. While many                   learning opportunities during the semester may
progressive business schools have moved toward          not necessarily be a reflection of the professors’
an integrated curriculum where students learn           teaching philosophies and pedagogical choices.
how a business operates—not in isolation but how        The difficulty in scheduling field trips or other
one business function affects the other—other           activities outside of regular class time because of
programs still follow the “stovepipe” approach to       schedule conflicts may have limited or even
educating business students (Albrecth & Sacks,          discouraged many professors’ efforts to add more
2000; Corbitt & Mensching, 2000).                       concrete learning experiences to enhance
     As a result of limited interdisciplinary           students’ learning. Nevertheless, the results of
learning, students may not understand how               the combined effect of the silo curriculum
various business areas relate to one another. For       structure and the lack of concrete, real-world
example, they may be able to explain a basic            experiences are reflected in less-than-satisfactory
Enterprise Systems in the Business Curriculum                                                        87


employer surveys and post-graduation adjustment        industry solutions. In addition to the licensing
problems among college graduates (Linder et al.,       fee, the annual membership fee covers faculty
1992; Siegel & Sorensen, 1994; Perrone &               training. Along with the R/3 system are sample
Vickers, 2003; Polach, 2004). Employers in             data of a model enterprise called IDES
these studies criticized new hires’ lack of            (International Demonstration and Education
understanding of the “big picture” and their           System) that consists of a multinational
tendency to make decisions that are too simplistic     corporation with subsidiaries across several
or decisions that do not take into consideration all   continents. Curriculum materials, including
the constraints and long-term consequences.            PowerPoint slides and student exercises based on
    The criticisms and challenges of traditional       the IDES Company, are also available.
business education where students’ learning is              While the original members of the Alliance
structured along artificial boundaries of academic     Program were required to install and manage the
disciplines and where there is generally a lack of     SAP system on their own servers, SAP began
experiential learning opportunities have prompted      offering a hosting option in the past few years.
many business schools to look for ways to              Universities that do not have the resources or
overcome such challenges. One such initiative is       choose not to maintain the SAP system on their
forming partnerships with enterprise system            own can work with a designated hosting center
vendors to help students develop a holistic            that supports all application server and database
understanding of business with the support of          needs. In addition, the hosting center can create
information technology currently used in the           student accounts and handle system upgrades and
workplace.                                             database refresh every semester. The hosting
                                                       option should attract more universities because
ERP Vendors and University                             faculty can now focus on pedagogical issues,
Partnerships                                           instead of dealing with technical and logistical
                                                       issues relating to implementing a complex system,
All top three ERP vendors—SAP, Oracle, and             such as SAP.
PeopleSoft—offer academic alliance programs.                Similar to SAP’s University Alliance Program,
They are the SAP University Alliance, PeopleSoft       PeopleSoft On Campus and Oracle Academic
On Campus, and Oracle Academic Initiative. Of          Initiative were established to assist universities
the three, the SAP University Alliance Program is      integrate the respective enterprise systems into
the largest and most well established.                 university curricula (Bradford, Vijayaraman, &
     SAP formed the SAP University Alliance            Chandra, 2003). Both programs were established
Program in 1996. Members in the Program are            in 1999. Benefits for universities that enter into
made up of universities in North and South             industry-academic partnerships with PeopleSoft
America, Asia, and Europe. In the United States        are similar to those offered by SAP University
and Canada alone, there are over 130 member            Alliance; they include access to enterprise
universities. Besides research partnerships with       management software, educational materials,
these universities, the University Alliance            faculty training, and technical support. In
Program enables SAP to gain a presence in the          addition, remote access to PeopleSoft applications
college and university curriculum, thereby             hosted at a hosting center was available beginning
ensuring a continual supply of personnel in the        in 2003. Oracle Academic Initiative also offers
workforce who are familiar with the enterprise         its member universities access to its software and
system. For an annual fee of about $8,000, the         discounts for attending training classes. However,
Alliance Program offers its members access to its      Oracle Academic Initiative does not offer
core program (SAP R/3) and three specialized           curriculum support or a hosting option. Given the
programs (e.g., SCM, CRM, Advanced Production          purchase of PeopleSoft by Oracle, the future of
Optimizer, Business Intelligence, etc.) and/or         either program might be uncertain.
88                                                                                                Chao


Implementation Status and Approaches                 processes. The third approach focuses on
                                                     information system concepts; the enterprise
While there have been numerous case studies          system is used as an exemplary system from
reporting ERP system adoptions in colleges, there    which students can analyze and assess the
is a lack of systematic research on enterprise       infrastructure and design of a state-of-the-art
system education in business curriculum.             business information system. The fourth
Published studies on ERP adoption indicate that      approach emphasizes students’ understanding of
curriculum integration varied from using the         enterprise computing and related concepts, such
enterprise system in a single course that includes   as ERP system implementation and its impact on
multiple disciplines (Shtub, 2001) to using SAP in   organizations. The last approach is a combination
sequential, interrelated classes (Corbitt &          of the four previously mentioned approaches.
Mensching, 2000) to building an entire enterprise         In another study, Bradford et al. (2003)
resources management track (Becerra-Fernandez,       surveyed 94 universities, 35 of which have
Murphy, & Simon, 2000) that covers business          integrated ERP in their curricula. Among these
process design and implementation, enterprise        universities, some adopted multiple ERP systems,
system administration, and project management.       but most schools implemented a single ERP
These studies provide invaluable, detailed           system. Of the systems selected, SAP was the
information on the background, process, and          most commonly adopted (56%), followed by
outcomes of ERP adoption at various universities.    Oracle (31%), PeopleSoft (19%), and Microsoft
However, without systematic and extensive            Great Plains (8%). ERP integration was the most
research, the breadth and depth of ERP               common in accounting (69%) and IS (58%)
curriculum integration in the U.S. is unknown.       courses, followed by courses offered by
The Journal of Information Systems Education         management (33%), marketing (14%), and
published an enterprise system education special     finance (3%) departments. Among the 59 non-
issue in fall 2004. Authors of one of the articles   adopting universities, the top three reasons for
(Lederer-Antonucci et al., 2004) called for          non-adoption were insufficient funds, insufficient
studies that would produce empirical evidence of     IT support staff, and lack of ERP knowledge
ERP implementation in colleges and universities,     among faculty. Lack of interest and support from
including a more comprehensive understanding of      administration and lack of interest among faculty
the levels of adoption and objective measures of     were other reasons.
curriculum integration outcomes, such as what             The survey (Bradford et al., 2003) also found
worked and what did not.                             that the most common teaching approach (31%)
     Besides basic descriptive statistics, such as   was to focus on a particular ERP module (e.g.,
the number of universities, academic disciplines,    the material management module in a supply
and courses that have included enterprise systems    chain management course or the HR module in a
in instruction, an understanding of the              human resources management course).
approaches or models used in integrating ERP in      Relationships between the selected module and
the business curriculum would be useful. For         other modules might be discussed, but the
example, Hawking et al. (2004) identified five       primary focus was the process and function within
possible approaches for integrating ERP into the     the specific module. The fact that 17 out of the
business curriculum. The first, and least            35 ERP-adopting universities had only a single
preferred, approach is training students to use a    department using ERP and only 5 universities
specific enterprise system. This model focuses on    reported ERP adoption in more than 2 academic
proficiency in using various functions and           departments corroborated the predominance of
executing transactions. The second approach          the single-discipline adoption model. In the next
aims at enhancing students’ understanding of         popular teaching approach (28%), students
business processes with the support of an            learned to execute selected transactions using an
enterprise system. The ERP system is used to         enterprise system (e.g., create a purchase order
illustrate the interrelationships among business     or process payments). This approach gave
Enterprise Systems in the Business Curriculum                                                          89


students a taste of the system functionality and       instructional materials for their classes. Given all
some exposure to business process without              the demands for their time, some faculty
significant time investment on the instructor’s        members, while interested, are hesitant to invest a
part; however, students were not given the benefit     great deal of time learning the system and
of learning the interconnectedness of an               developing course materials. The uncertainty of
integrated system. Other less frequently adopted       whether their curriculum development effort
approaches were teaching a sub-module, such as         would be recognized by their peers and
the accounts payable function within the               administrators is another concern. In some cases,
accounting module (16%); covering all core             there is a lack of recognition of the amount of
modules of the enterprise system with the focus        time and effort required to implement an ERP
on the interrelationship of multiple business          system in the classroom. Without strong
processes across modules (13%); and focusing on        administrative support and incentives (curriculum
ERP II solutions, such as supply chain                 development grants, release time, and the
management and customer-relationship                   inclusion of ERP-related contributions in faculty
management (13%).                                      assessment), successful enterprise system
     While the ideal enterprise system education is    integration is unlikely.
to integrate the ERP system across multiple
disciplines, such effort would require a significant   Benefits of ERP in Business Curriculum
time commitment for faculty collaboration and
consensus building when determining the                With the support of an enterprise system, a more
direction and emphasis of the courses (Corbitt &       holistic and in-depth understanding of business
Mensching, 2000). Besides time investment, the         processes would be possible. The ERP system
traditional departmental structure makes               can be a common platform that integrates
curriculum integration across disciplines difficult    traditionally separated business disciplines and
(Becerra-Fernandez et al., 2000). Such findings        upon which students can obtain a better grasp of
were consistent with the survey data (Bradford et      the complex and interconnected nature of
al., 2000) that showed enterprise software             business. From basic business processes, such as
adoption happens mostly within individual              understanding the order fulfillment process from
disciplines, instead of across the business            a sales quote to payment settlement to
curriculum. The challenges of ERP curriculum           understanding the supply chain and analyzing the
implementation are discussed in the next section.      impact of different material sourcing strategies on
                                                       profitability, the ERP system can promote
Implementation Challenges                              students’ understanding of the interdependencies
                                                       among business functions. Also, enterprise
Besides the difficulty in integrating an ERP           systems can support higher-level learning, such as
system across multiple disciplines, funding,           analyzing a company’s performance (product and
faculty commitment, and administrative support         service profitability or pricing and marketing
are challenges (Becerra-Fernandez et al., 2000;        campaign outcomes). Such interdisciplinary
Bradford et al., 2003; Corbitt & Mensching,            learning could remedy the problem of a
2000). Given that ERP university alliance              fragmented curriculum which often leads to
membership alone costs between $3,000 and              students “…miss[ing] the big picture where
$12,000 a year, securing continual funding for         interdependencies and interconnectedness among
the software license fee, faculty training, and        business processes create efficient synergies in
technical support is imperative.                       achieving business targets” (Bradford et al.,
     The second challenge is faculty interest and      2003, p. 439).
commitment. ERP systems are complex and have                The second benefit of the ERP system is that
a steep learning curve. To integrate the system        it can be used to create an ideal learning
into their classes, faculty must be willing to spend   environment for cross-functional work teams;
extra hours learning the system and to develop         students assigned to different job roles can
90                                                                                                 Chao


examine and debate an issue from different           and knowledge and skill requirements of OEIS
vantage points. With learning activities designed    majors.
to encourage active experimentation, articulation         The proliferation of enterprise systems has
and discussion of ideas and opinions, and            added new requirements to the knowledge and
application of business concepts, a learning         skills end-user computing professionals must
environment supported by an ERP system should        possess. Additionally, it has created new career
correct the problems of amnesia, fantasia, and       opportunities for which OEIS graduates are well
inertia that Shulman (1999) identified.              suited. As previously mentioned, one of the
     Another benefit of integrating an ERP system    characteristics of enterprise systems is that it is
is students’ increased marketability (Watson &       packaged software, and business process analysis
Schneider, 1999). Many universities adopted an       and system configuration take precedence over
enterprise system with the expectation of better     programming. Some of the responsibilities on
career prospects for their graduates and increased   ERP implementation projects and post-
visibility and reputation of the university.         implementation maintenance include business
California State University in Chico, the first      process documentation and analysis, job role
member of the SAP University Alliance, reported      analysis, project management, system
numerous positive outcomes. According to             configuration, change management, and end-user
Corbitt and Mensching (2000), the salary             training. While several of these job tasks require
difference between SAP-trained and non-SAP-          extensive ERP training, work experience, and
trained students was approximately $10,000.          even certification, others focus more on the job
Furthermore, they reported an increased number       candidate’s general business knowledge and
of recruiters and higher enrollments in classes      technical aptitude. Given that many OEIS
using SAP. In addition, faculty that used SAP in     programs combine advanced technological
their classes reported their inclusion of more       training and solid business education by adding
functional dependencies and more holistic            an enterprise system into the curriculum, OEIS
presentation of business operations in their         graduates should be qualified to pursue careers,
teaching, which led to improvements in students’     such as business analysts, consultants, project
understanding of business processes and test         coordinators, and technical trainers with ERP
scores. Another ERP-adopting university, Florida     experience requirements.
International University, received positive
feedback from employers. Also, the University        OSRA’s 2004 OEIS Model Curriculum
attributed the success of its faculty and student
internship program to its enterprise system          To enable non-programming IT graduates to
education program (Becerra-Fernandez et al.,         pursue these new career options or for the general
2000).                                               purpose of enhancing student learning by
                                                     providing experiential learning opportunities,
Implications and Recommendations for                 some suggestions for integrating an ERP system
OEIS Programs                                        into various OEIS courses are provided in the
                                                     following section. These courses are based on the
With the pervasiveness of enterprise systems in      2004 OEIS Model Curriculum developed by the
large, multi-national corporations and mid-sized     Organizational Systems Research Association
businesses, these systems have become an             (OSRA). The OEIS Curriculum contains seven
integral part of the computing environment for       core courses and six elective courses; detailed
many end-users. To become productive members         course descriptions, learning outcomes, and
of end-user support functions, organizational and    resources are provided for each course.
end-user information systems (OEIS) graduates             Flexibility and ease of customization are a
must be familiar with enterprise computing           part of the OEIS Curriculum design
concepts, technologies, and issues. The following    considerations (Daniels & Feather-Gannon,
is a review of ERP-related career opportunities      2003). The same consideration of flexibility has
Enterprise Systems in the Business Curriculum                                                         91


been adopted here; OEIS departments and                business functions, such as material management,
programs interested in ERP can select the              facility management, human resource
appropriate OEIS courses that would fit into their     management (e.g., support staff skills inventory
curriculum and use the following suggestions in        and work schedules), and accounting (e.g.,
integrating an enterprise system in the courses.       service billing). These integrated functions can
The instructor can determine the breadth and           reinforce knowledge students learned in business
depth of ERP coverage in each course; however,         core courses and promote a holistic
as described below, using ERP as a tool to             understanding of how businesses operate.
illustrate and support students’ learning of certain        OEIS 3–Assessment, Design, Implementation,
business and technology concepts and principles        and Evaluation: Given that the design of an
is recommended over focusing solely on the             enterprise system is based on best business
system itself.                                         practices (e.g., SAP R/3 has over 1,000 best
                                                       practices embedded in its design for virtually
Suggestions for Integrating ERP in                     every business function), students can gain
OEIS Courses                                           valuable experience from observing and analyzing
                                                       how business processes should be designed and
An enterprise system can be used to help students      streamlined to support business objectives.
achieve learning objectives in several of the core     Besides learning business process analysis and
courses as well as two of the electives. The           design, students assigned to various project team
following are some suggestions.                        roles on a simulated project can learn to configure
     OEIS 1–Organizational and End-User                the enterprise system based on the outcomes of
Information Systems: ERP systems are excellent         business process and end-user work analyses.
tools for helping students understand end-user         Furthermore, important project management
computing from both individual user and                lessons to ensure project completion within time,
organizational perspectives. As an integrated          scope, and budget can be learned from the
system that combines multiple business functions,      simulated project.
the system can be used to demonstrate how one               OEIS 4–OEIS Technical Training and
business process affects another, explain system       Delivery Methods: The ERP system provides a
concepts, and illustrate end-user roles and            meaningful context for learning different aspects
responsibilities in various business functions. In     of technical training. Given that the deployment
addition, ERP exercises can provide students with      of an ERP system affects end-users at all
firsthand experience on how information                organizational levels and functions, the ERP
technology is being used to support workplace          system can be integrated to support a variety of
performance and employee productivity.                 learning activities in this course, from helping
     OEIS 2–Computer User Support: Many ERP            students understand the complexity of planning a
systems include customer/technical support             large-scale end-user training program to
functions. For example, in the Logistics/Customer      discussing appropriate delivery technologies to
Service module in SAP R/3, there are a variety of      developing training materials for certain modules
support center functions, such as problem              of the system. Furthermore, case studies of ERP
tracking, computer-telephony integration, and          implementation can be used to enhance students’
asset and configuration management. Also               knowledge of effective change-management
included in the module are knowledge base and          strategies for facilitating end-user acceptance of
management reporting functions. Hands-on               the new system.
practice using these ERP functions can enhance              OEIS 6–Cases in Information Technology:
students’ comprehension of support center              ERP supports both online transaction processing
operations, service-level agreement fulfillment        (OLTP) and online analytical processing (OLAP).
tracking, and performance management. Another          In previous OEIS courses, students learn how a
benefit of using the technical support functions in    wide array of end-users—from customer support
an enterprise system is its integration with other     staff and other front office users to production
92                                                                                                     Chao


operators to back office employees—use OLTP to         undergraduate and graduate IS courses);
record, process, and review information. In this       implementation lessons learned (e.g., Fedorowicz,
capstone course, students can focus on the OLAP        Gelinas, Usoff, & Hachey, 2004, offered 12 tips
functions in an enterprise system, such as SAP’s       for successful implementation), and post-
Business Warehouse (a business intelligence            implementation curriculum assessments. Besides
solution) and Strategic Enterprise Management (a       successful completion of assigned ERP exercises
management cockpit solution). Students can learn       and projects, students’ learning outcome
to leverage these advanced modules to support          assessment should include improved
effective decision making by providing                 comprehension of the subject matter and refined
management-level end-users with aggregated,            understanding of business operations beyond
long-range, multidimensional information for           students’ own areas of specialization (Corbitt &
strategic planning and performance measurement.        Mensching, 2000; Davis & Comeau, 2004).
     In addition to the core courses, ERP systems      Furthermore, students’ marketability (e.g., job
can be integrated into optional courses, such as       placement rates and salaries) and feedback from
OEIS 8–eBusiness and Web Technologies and              recruiters and employers are also important
OEIS 9–Collaborative Technologies and                  measurements of the effectiveness of the ERP
Knowledge Management. In the second wave               curriculum.
ERP, or ERP II, many enterprise systems have                While incorporating ERP systems in OEIS
expanded upon their primary purpose of                 courses requires significant time commitment and
integrating all business functions within a            financial resources, such investments will benefit
corporation, and they have begun to include IT         not only the students but also the faculty. From
support for communication and collaboration with       developing a more holistic understanding of how
suppliers and customers. ERP II enterprise             businesses operate to gaining firsthand experience
modules, such as supply chain management,              with a state-of-the-art organizational and end-user
customer relationship management, business             system, OEIS students will be better prepared
warehouse, and enterprise portal, can be               academically and have an advantage over other
incorporated into these optional courses.              graduates in the job market. Given the current
                                                       labor market trends, IT graduates who are
Post-Implementation Assessment and                     business process savvy and understand how
Lessons Learned                                        technology can be applied to support individual,
                                                       as well as organizational, performance will have
In the existing literature, systematic assessment of   an advantage over others with only technical
learning outcomes after ERP implementation is          training.
very limited (Davis & Comeau, 2004). In current             Besides implementing ERP in the OEIS
research on ERP in the business curriculum,            curriculum, OEIS faculty members can take a
many are implementation case studies (e.g.,            leadership role in ERP system integration in their
Becerra-Fernandez et al., 2000; Corbitt &              respective business school curriculum. With their
Mensching, 2000). While these studies reported         expertise in pedagogy and curriculum
positive outcomes as a result of integrating ERP in    development, OEIS faculty can lead the effort in
the curricula, such findings are more or less          coordinating the design of an interdisciplinary
anecdotal (based on faculty and student self-          enterprise system education that encourages
reporting), and it is not clear if such results can    active experimentation and the development of
be generalized. Nevertheless, these case studies       higher-order thinking skills. The ERP curriculum
and teaching best practices provide invaluable         integration effort will increase the visibility of the
instructional resources (e.g., Watson & Schneider,     faculty and the OEIS program within the school
1999, identified 10 ERP knowledge modules and          and university community, as well as provide
offered detailed descriptions of module content        research and external outreach opportunities.
and suggestions for incorporating them into both
Enterprise Systems in the Business Curriculum                                                                  93


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