Can Accountants Bring A Positive Contribution to ERP Implementation?

Article excerpt

[Abstract]

This study reviews the contributions of accountants during both the implementation and post-implementation phase of Enterprise Resource Planning systems. A survey was sent to accounting professionals of the Institute Of Management Accountants, and 219 responses were obtained. Regression analysis and t-testing are used. Results confirm that there is a positive significant relationship between the contribution of accountants and the successful implementation of ERP. The study also confirms that accountants are more likely to participate on ERP implementation teams when they possess technical skills. Also, the article discusses differences between the time spent by accountants solving ERP issues during each phase.

[Keywords] ERP; enterprise research planning; MRP; accounting information systems; management accountants; modern accountant; accounting; accounting systems; ERP and accounting; project management

Introduction

The role of the accountant in a business environment has been evolving over the years (Scapens, 2001). Besides traditional accounting knowledge, accountants need to possess other skills that are vital to their survival in an effective organization. Among those skills are knowledge sharing, the understanding of information systems design, systems development, and applications (Newman, et al., 2003; Scapens, et al., 1996a). The accountants who possess those skills are in a better position to help management in the daily challenges that they face in the business world, which is becoming more and more complex and technology-oriented. Peccarelli (2004) views the success of accountants based on how they use their time, how fast and easy they access data from multiple sources, and how well they understand integrated systems and virtual office capabilities through the use of the web.

Besides finance, accountants are expected to be business partners, technology experts, and strategy allies (Chapman & Chua, 2000; Scapens, 1998). The numerous changes in technology and business bring many challenges to all professionals. Those challenges also rest on accountants' shoulders. They present tremendous areas of opportunity where accountants can grow. They must find a way to alleviate the burdens by learning how to use technological tools and how to apply them.

One of the systems issues accountants face is the implementation and maintenance of ERP (Enterprise Resources Planning) systems in the organization (Newman, et al., 2003). ERP systems allow companies to integrate all information systems applications, such as supply-chain management, accounting applications, human resources, and customer relationship management (Boubekri, 2001).

This study addresses the contribution of the accountant during the implementation and postimplementation phases of ERP systems. The study also identifies the importance of technical skills that can help accountants during the ERP implementation. Also, the paper discusses differences between the time spent by accountants solving ERP issues during each phase, as well as simple systems versus more complex systems. Many surveys were used to collect data. The main questionnaire was sent to accounting or finance professionals who are members of the Institute of Management Accountants (IMA). Other surveys were sent to certified public accountants. The individuals with ERP experience at different levels have titles such as CFO, controllers, system consultants, accountants, and consultants.

Review of Literature

ERP systems allow integration of modules, such as production, purchasing, sales, human resources, and the general ledger. These programs replace legacy systems that cannot keep up with current business requirements. Instead of having many stand-alone modules, data can be entered once, and the relative impact on other modules is reflected immediately. The ERP is an improvement of MRP (Material requirements planning) models that did not contain modules, such as human resource management and customer management. …