Conclusion – ERP and Information Systems

Conclusion

The conclusion covers the main result that might shape the relationships between the evolution of enterprise resource planning (ERP) packages and information systems (ISs). It also provides two tables (Tables C.1 and C.2) of useful best practices in this field:

  1. Table C.1: the impact of the research factors on the relationships between the evolution of ERP systems and IS integration or disintegration;
  2. Table C.2: relationships between the combinations of the research factor values and IS integration or disintegration.

From the literature review, we conducted an analysis of the relationship between the evolution of ERP systems and current trends in the field of ISs. Although previous studies have shown the role of ERP systems in IS integration, we proposed a new track of research aimed to prove that in some cases, the evolution of these packages can lead to a kind of IS disintegration instead of the intended integration.

We found that links between ERP systems and ISs are triggered by certain variables or factors: economic crisis and competitiveness, total dependency on the ERP vendors, project management, interoperability and complexity of the ERP systems, evolution strategies of existing systems and of ERP vendors. Three case studies have confirmed the relevance of these variables as well as the validity of the two values (positive and negative) given to each of them.

This book has established cause/effect links between the evolution of ERP systems and IS integration or disintegration, which can be activated by the values taken by the research factors. We have developed a typology (see Table 7.1) that has summarized several scenarios leading the architectures to either integration or to disintegration. This typology has emphasized the importance of these factors that play a pivotal role in determining the impact of the evolution of ERP systems on IS integration or disintegration.

Although the ERP system’s implementation is logically a factor aiming to improve the IS integration, the negative values of the research factors could prevent this integration. These negative values, that are related to the ERP system’s evolution, could also cause a kind of IS regression from a state of integration toward one of disintegration. The following table summarizes the interactions between the research factors, the evolution of ERP systems and IS integration or disintegration.

Table C.1. The impact of the research factors on the relationships between the evolution of ERP systems and IS integration or disintegration

Research factors IS disintegration IS integration
Economic crisis and competitiveness (ECCO) The economic crisis and competitiveness are not taken into account by all stakeholders as an important factor within the framework of ERP system evolution. ERP system prices are too expensive for clients. The TCO of an ERP system is very costly in a manner that does not allow firms to be competitive, especially within the context of economic crisis. Consequently, TCO could be an obstacle which prevents a firm from acquiring an ERP system, and thus this obstacle cannot help IS integration.
The value of ECCO is “–”
The economic crisis and competitiveness are carefully taken into account by all stakeholders as an important factor within the framework of ERP system evolution. ERP vendors, within the context of an economic crisis, democratize the prices. The TCO of ERP systems becomes attractive in a manner that allows firms: (1) to make the decision of “go” (buying an ERP system) instead of “no go”; (2) to be competitive and to win an add-value, due to the ERP package, especially within the context of economic crisis.
The value of ECCO is “+”
Total Dependency on the ERP Vendors (TDEV) The evolution of ERP systems takes into account this factor in a manner that allows the client to decide whether to be independent or dependent on an ERP vendor. Consequently, the client could be independent of an ERP vendor.
The value of TDEV is “–”
The evolution of ERP systems takes into account this factor in a manner that does not allow the client to decide whether to be independent or dependent on an ERP vendor. Consequently, the client is completely dependent on the ERP vendor.
The value of TDEV is “+”
Project Management ERP (PMER) The evolution of ERP systems does not take into account this factor in a manner which allows improvement or optimization of ERP system project management. A methodology for ERP system implementation, based on best practices, is not taken into account by all stakeholders as an important factor within the framework of ERP system evolution.
The value of PMER is “–”
The evolution of ERP systems takes into account this factor in a manner that allows improvement or optimization of ERP system project management. A methodology for ERP system implementation, based on best practices, is taken into account by all stakeholders as an important factor within the framework of ERP system evolution.
The value of PMER is “+”
Interoperability of the ERP (INTE) The evolution of ERP systems does not take into account this factor in a manner that allows improvement of the ERP system interoperability. Consequently, clients are not able to integrate the different subsystems of their IS.
The value of INTE is “–”
The evolution of ERP systems takes into account this factor in a manner that allows improvement of the ERP system interoperability. Consequently, clients are able to integrate easily the different subsystems of their IS.
The value of INTE is “+”
Evolution Strategy of Existing Systems (ESES) The evolution of ERP systems does not take into account this factor in a manner that allows the firm to drive the best evolution strategy depending on its existing system (urbanization or total overhaul). For example: a desired urbanization that aims to implement an ERP system within the framework of a complex existing system, could be difficult to achieve if the ERP system is complex and its interoperability is unreliable (a total overhaul will be indispensable to avoid IS disintegration).
The value of ESES is “– = complex existing system”.
The evolution of ERP systems takes into account this factor in a manner that allows the firm to drive the best evolution strategy depending on its existing system (urbanization or total overhaul). For example: (1) total overhaul could be performed especially when the existing system is extremely complex; (2) urbanization could be preferred when the existing system is simple or could be avoided when the existing system is complex.
The value of ESES is “+” or “– = simple existing system”.
COER (COmplexity of ERP) The evolution of ERP systems does not take into account this factor in a manner that allows simplification of the ERP system’s complexity.
The value of COER is “–”
The evolution of ERP systems takes into account this factor in a manner that allows simplification of the ERP system’s complexity.
The value of COER is “+”
Evolution Strategy of ERP Vendors (ESEV) The evolution of ERP systems does not take into account this factor in a manner that allows the vendors to achieve a relevant evolution from an ERP 1st G to an ERP 2nd G that can fit the users’ needs. The ERP 1st G is kept without any expansion toward a 2nd G or by the vendor going out of business. Clients could have a lot of difficulties if they decide to maintain this ERP 1st G within the framework of their IS.
The value of ESEV is “–”
The evolution of ERP systems takes into account this factor in a manner that allows the vendors to achieve a relevant evolution from an ERP 1st G to an ERP 2nd G that can fit the users’ needs. Clients could be more or less interested in an ERP 2nd G according to a given evolution strategy (internal development or external acquisition). For example: (1) the upgrading process does not dissuade the client to buy an ERP system because of its future upgrading's significant costs; (2) simplification of the upgrading process from 1st to 2nd G which could lead, if it is possible, to an ERP 2nd G whose future upgrading will not be complex.
The value of ESEV is “+”

Just as the value (positive or negative) taken by each factor can impact the ERP system’s evolution on the IS (toward integration or disintegration), the combination of this same value with the values of other factors could also modify these outcomes. Generally, we found that it is not clear enough or reliable enough to consider a single factor alone. To have a reliable and complete perspective, it is better to take each factor in combination with other factors. The following table illustrates the contribution of the combinations of the research factors values in determining of the relationships between ERP systems’ evolution and IS integration or disintegration.

In the future, we think that ERP system evolution will not be a matter for vendors only. All stakeholders (firms, vendors, consultants, consultancy firms, etc.) should participate in and contribute to this evolution. A solution that takes into account all of the stakeholders’ points of view could better improve IS integration. Without this coordination, a kind of IS disintegration, triggered by the ERP system’s evolution, could occur.

Table C.2. Relationships between the combinations of the research factor values and IS integration or disintegration

Research factors Values
ECCO Between – and + +
TDEV Between – and + +
PMER Between – and + +
INTE Between – and + +
ESES – = complex existing. Between – and + +
COER Between – and + +
ESEV Between – and + +
Integration rate of IS DIIS HIIS TIIS

IS integration could be improved by ERP systems if their evolution is driven in a manner that promotes the rational selection of a package and their purchase by clients, which then also guarantees the success of their implementation. IS disintegration, however, could be provoked due to ERP systems if their evolution is driven in a manner that does not encourage clients to select packages rationally or to purchase them, which works against the success of their implementation.

Finally, an ERP implementation does not automatically mean the improvement of the integration of information systems. In certain cases and under some conditions this implementation could instead provoke a kind of disintegration. All stakeholders should be careful to avoid this undesired scenario which can lead to the disintegration of the information system instead of its integration.