Enterprise Resource Planning Research: Where Are We Now and Where Should We Go from Here?

Article excerpt

ABSTRACT

The research related to Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) has grown over the past several years. This growing body of ERP research results in an increased need to review this extant literature with the intent of identifying gaps and thus motivate researchers to close this breach. Therefore, this research was intended to critique, synthesize and analyze both the content (e.g., topics, focus) and processes (i.e., methods) of the ERP literature, and then enumerates and discusses an agenda for future research efforts. To accomplish this, we analyzed 49 ERP articles published (1999-2004) in top Information Systems (IS) and Operations Management (OM) journals. We found an increasing level of activity during the 5-year period and a slightly biased distribution of ERP articles targeted at IS journals compared to OM. We also found several research methods either underrepresented or absent from the pool of ERP research. We identified several areas of need within the ERP literature, none more prevalent than the need to analyze ERP within the context of the supply chain.

INTRODUCTION

Davenport (1998) described the strengths and weaknesses of using Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP). He called attention to the growth of vendors like SAP, Baan, Oracle, and People-Soft, and defined this software as, "...the seamless integration of all the information flowing through a companyfinancial and accounting information, human resource information, supply chain information, and customer information." (Davenport, 1998). Since the time of that article, there has been a growing interest among researchers and practitioners in how organization implement and use ERP systems (Amoako-Gyampah and Salam, 2004; Bendoly and Jacobs, 2004; Gattiker and Goodhue, 2004; Lander, Purvis, McCray and Leigh, 2004; Luo and Strong, 2004; Somers and Nelson, 2004; Zoryk-Schalla, Fransoo and de Kok, 2004). This interest is a natural continuation of trends in Information Technology (IT), such as MRP II, (Olson, 2004; Teltumbde, 2000; Toh and Harding, 1999) and in business practice improvement research, such as continuous process improvement and business process reengineering (Markus and Tanis, 2000; Ng, Ip and Lee, 1999; Reijers, Limam and van der Aalst, 2003; Toh and Harding, 1999).

This growing body of ERP research results in an increased need to review this extant literature with the intent of "identifying critical knowledge gaps and thus motivate researchers to close this breach" (Webster and Watson, 2002). Also, as noted by Scandura & Williams (2000), in order for research to advance, the methods used by researchers must periodically be evaluated to provide insights into the methods utilized and thus the areas of need. These two interrelated needs provide the motivation for this paper. In essence, this research critiques, synthesizes and analyzes both the content (e.g., topics, focus) and processes (i.e., methods) of the ERP literature and then enumerates and discusses an agenda for future research efforts.

The remainder of the paper is organized as follows: Section 2 describes the approach to the analysis of the ERP research. Section 3 contains the results and a review of the literature. Section 4 discusses our findings and the needs relative to future ERP research efforts. Finally, section 5 summarizes the research.

RESEARCH STUDY

We captured the trends pertaining to (1) the number and distribution of ERP articles published in the leading journals, (2) methodologies employed in ERP research, and (3) emphasis relative to topic of ERP research. During the analysis of the ERP literature, we identified gaps and needs in the research and therefore enumerate and discuss a research agenda which allows the progression of research (Webster and Watson, 2002). In short, we sought to paint a representative landscape of the current ERP literature base in order to influence the direction of future research efforts relative to ERP. …