The Role of Consultants in the Implementation of Enterprise Resource Planning Systems

By Metrejean, Eddie; Stocks, Morris H. | Academy of Information and Management Sciences Journal, January 1, 2011 | Go to article overview

The Role of Consultants in the Implementation of Enterprise Resource Planning Systems


Metrejean, Eddie, Stocks, Morris H., Academy of Information and Management Sciences Journal


ABSTRACT

Previous research shows that most organizations use consultants to assist with ERP implementations, but little, if any, research has been performed to determine in which phase of an ERP implementation consultants are perceived to be most effective and most necessary. Using survey methods, this research examines two issues. First, this study examines whether consultants are perceived to be more effective in the tasks they perform and more necessary within the different phases of ERP implementations. Second, this study examines which characteristics possessed by ERP consultants contribute to their effectiveness. Results show that ERP consultants are rated as more effective and necessary in the configuration and integration phase of an ERP implementation than in other phases. Results also show, although not conclusively, that technical skills and knowledge contribute more to the effectiveness of ERP consultants than other characteristics.

INTRODUCTION

Organizations implement enterprise resource planning (ERP) systems to solve their accounting, scheduling, and production problems and because existing business practices and procedures are inadequate to meet their current or future strategic needs (Nah, et al. 2001; Karakanian 1999; Davenport 1998). Details on the inner workings of ERP systems can be found in resources such as O'Leary (2000) and Jacobs and Whybark (2000).

Because ERP implementations are very complex, costly, and risky, organizations typically use consultants to assist them in their implementation. Many organizations lack the information technology (IT) personnel with the required expertise and time to undertake implementing an ERP system, and consultants often assist their clients throughout the entire implementation process (Glover et al. 1999; Nah et al. 2001; Thong étal. 1994; Yap et al. 1992).

Considerable research has been performed in the areas of ERP systems and the presence of consultants during these implementations. The use of consultants is often cited as a critical factor for the success of an implementation (Nah et al. 2001; Thong et al. 1994; Yap et al. 1992). However, little research, if any, has examined the phases of an ERP implementation and how the consultants fit into an implementation on a phase-byphase basis. If consultants are not necessary and/or effective in a particular phase, they can then be left out of the work on that phase, potentially saving considerable money for the implementing organization. The results give researchers a starting point for examining how consultants fit into the specific parts of an ERP implementation. Further, practitioners will have an idea about were to best use their scare resources when implementing ERP systems.

In light of this lack of research, this study has a twofold purpose. The first purpose is to examine whether consultants are perceived to be more effective and necessary in certain phases of an ERP implementation than in other phases. The results of this research should provide researchers who study ERP systems with information about the phases of an implementation in which organizations use consultants. If consultants are not perceived to be effective in a particular phase, then consultants may be left out ofthat phase and internal IT personnel may be used. The results show that IT managers do perceive that consultants are more effective and necessary in the configuration and integration phase of an implementation and least effective and necessary in the operation of the ERP system. Thus, organizations may be better able to focus the use of their ERP consultants on those particular phases, which should save resources.

The second purpose of this study is to examine whether certain characteristics possessed by ERP consultants contribute more to their effectiveness than other characteristics. Researchers who study ERP implementations should benefit from this research because the results will give them some idea of which characteristics and skills that real users consider most important.

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