Enterprise Systems and ERP Systems Essay Example

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    Business
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    Undergraduate
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Differences in Systems Development Methodology of Enterprise Systems and ERP Systems

ERP (Enterprise Resource Planning) systems have a global feeling, which means that their use covers global space. The implementations of ERP systems have encountered a sizeable number of challenges overtime, to an extent of failing. In most instances, such challenges lie both in project management as well as methodology implementation. The reality with ERP systems scope is that the existing implementation methodologies tend to be ‘frail’ to deliver the products (Ngai, Eric, Chuck & Francis, pg 550).

The initial phase of implementing an ERP package revolves around making a decision to acquire a new system or deploying one already in use in a different division with an organisation, and or the need to upgrade an existing system in use. The initial phase is termed as critical part of the project. It determines the selection of the best package to be put into practice.

A substantial number of ERP systems are embodied to accommodate set of logistics, consumer-relations, manufacturing as well as financial practises. This means that the ultimate decision to purchase an ERP system is geared towards accepting those practices as the business process of any firm. However, packages of ERP pose differences. The proven practises differ in terms of size of an organisation. Thus, less functionality systems suit small firms whose number of employees is 50 or less. Full set functionality programs go well with larger firms whose number of employees exceeds 500. The cost of ownership of these kinds of systems differs significantly. Moreover, there exist ERP systems that are more specific to a particular industry of sector such as automotive and textile. Therefore, the practices that they support are always in line with the particular sector and are not universally applicable (Ngai, Eric, Chuck & Francis, pg 552).

System development of an ERP system suffers in existence of scale and or industry focus mismatch. These cases cause system implementation to go beyond the projected budget in an effort to retrofit the system as well as eliminate the mismatch through functionality modifications. The worse scenario arises where the firm implement an ERP that does not incorporate the needs of its stakeholders (Ngai, Eric, Chuck & Francis, pg 551).

Project stakeholders are the individuals or firms taking part in the project. Their interests may directly or indirectly be impacted by project execution. This means that project manager should identify all stakeholders of the project, determine their pertinent needs and then manage their influence geared at ensuring successful implementation.

The influence of stakeholders in an ERP system implementation has its share of challenges. The stakeholder exerts their influence especially at the pilot stage which ends up being costly. The development phases hence encounter stiff challenges unless such applicable issues are addressed.

On the other hand, Enterprise Systems are specific to the needs of the target firm. The implementation of these systems undergoes complex as well as a dynamic process that involves mix of technological-organisational interactions. ES implementation calls for the input of all levels of the firm not necessarily IT department. The decision to design the ES system is geared at meeting the needs of the firm and therefore requires a number of enterprise decisions. Secondly, the dynamic nature behind ES implementation calls for unstructured decisions that need to be frequently revised as well as reformulated in response with implementation progress (Ngai, Eric, Chuck & Francis, pg 550). Thirdly, implementation of ES system is not considered to be an intra-organisational exercise. Both hardware as well as software vendors are involved. Moreover, an implementation partner may always act as consultant regarding business process re-engineering. The mix behind the ES implementation makes it a complex affair.

The initial stage of ES development is characterised by preparations. The firm makes ultimate decision that ES will be valuable to the firm. This phase typically entail Request for Information (RFI) coupled with contract negotiations with selected vendor. The firm selects the implementation team as well as the most suitable technology platform (Ngai, Eric, Chuck & Francis, pg 557).

The other stages of ES implementation are the product design through engineering process and implementation. The primary activities behind design phase entails defining overall system specifications, business process re-engineering, user training and development of a prototype. During system implementation, the design blueprint get configured, program is installed whilst user training commences. The realisation stage follows when the system goes live and the focus is made to stabilise the system to ease flow (Ngai, Eric, Chuck & Francis, pg 550).

The methodology behind ES development requires extensive strategic decision making. Strategic decisions are vital because of a number of factors. First, the organisation commits massive resources behind implementation of the system. Secondly, the decision portrays huge impact while shaping the ES as well as the firm’s processes that depends on the system. Thirdly, implementing ES is complex since intertwining both organisational as well as technological challenges must to be taken into consideration. The decisions taken are strategic since they are assumed prior to undertaking tactical and operational decisions (Ngai, Eric, Chuck & Francis, pg 556).

As aforementioned, the strategic decisions forms an integral part of ES implementation strategy. Thus, the firm must make 15 important decisions. These include, deciding on evaluation team, selecting evaluation partners, deciding on appropriate vendors, define key business processes, define key functionalities, define bolt-on applications, choose appropriate IT infrastructure, choose the implementation team, select implementation partners, define implementation strategy, define the go-live strategy, define the ES variation strategy, decide about the training strategy, define reporting need and then select implementation strategy.

Using ERP System as a Primary Tool to fine-tune and optimize Business Processes

Business Process Re-engineering (BPR) is the radical redesign of business processes geared at gaining considerable improvements in cost and quality. Over the years, organisations have been engaged in reengineering their processes which includes strategic sourcing, order fulfilment and customer relationship management. The process of enacting BPR encompasses major changes in the organisational environment that can cause instability and ultimate failure. Therefore, it is quite obvious to expect BPR projects to yield significant impacts on organisational performance (Nieuwenhuyse & Inneke, Pg 4)

As the firm grows, the overall business processes mature with time. Such maturity is influenced by management interventions that identifies as well as monitors improvement. Moreover, as the time passes on, the law of diminishing returns takes effect whereby the profitability never supports existing business model. This results to static level with the enterprise taking a retrogressive trend and hence demanding transformation of the existing model. An aggressive approach, such as BPR is then used to evolve next level of the business process maturity (Davenport, Thomas, Jeanne & Robert, 125).

While used single-handedly, BPR envisages a number of manual interventions within all levels of process initiation. This calls for involvement of significant cost, time and fundamental change within the organisation’s hemisphere. Project based effort hence proves to be an essential prerequisite as far as BPR implementation is concerned. This can’t materialize within specific time frame in absence of technology.

Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) systems pave wide way for BPR because their implementation requires thorough examination of business processes. It is hard however to dictate which comes first; that is, BPR or ERP. A number of firms use ERP system in their bid to promote BPR. Other firms are driven to BPR in their bid to implement ERP systems. However, according to research, duo implementation of BPR and ERP system acts a powerful and effective means towards business optimization (Nieuwenhuyse & Inneke, Pg 5).

In the modern business situation, ERP provides the best technology solution which makes BPR initiative meaningful in the implementation of overall efficiency as well as productivity within the firm. Therefore, as the model of business evolves, it is vital to identify corresponding ERP functionality which will support business functionality (Nieuwenhuyse & Inneke, Pg 4).

Aligning BPR with the ERP system is a tricky affair that requires management decision. In a number of ERP implementation initiatives, BPR is perceived as an impact of ERP implementation. If the organisation start assuming strategic view of BPR as opposed to tactical view, significant gains will be realized as far as process intervention and overall value addition of ERP adaptation is concerned. The implementation of BPR must never be construed as just an adaptation of ERP system and or business process of a firm (Davenport, Thomas, Jeanne & Robert, 139). Rather, implementation should be comprehended as an effort of the firm to reorient her working culture and hierarchical structure, prudent in redefining set of organisation’s activities. In this context, BPR effort should be perceived as an enabler of business improvement, whilst ERP exertion supplements BPR with the technology enablement.

Implementing ERP system entails re-engineering the prevailing business processes to suit best-business-process standard. In the normal terms, ERP systems are calved on best practises which are followed within the industry domain. Practically, process interventions via BPR are essential in case user requirements fail to be met within customisation scope mandated by ERP system. The outliners the overall business strategy however, determines the route chart to be followed by BPR as well as tool chart (ERP). The alignment of the two is therefore done in order to realize business goals (Nieuwenhuyse & Inneke, Pg 6).

In many economies of the world, Business Process Re-engineering highly impacted the industrial sector through advent of massive liberalization, privatization as well as globalization. However, as aforementioned, it is impractical for BPR to scoop desired benefits related to profitability as well as sustainability of a firm, without proper address of stakeholders’ issues via the supply chain. This breach is sealed by bringing ERP system on board. ERP system introduces ICT (Information and Communication Technology) functional concepts that integrate all functional areas of an organisation, thus yielding optimal improvements in processes and productivity of firms. With the expansion of service operations, ERP created room to synergize the back office operations with the front office operations (Davenport, Thomas, Jeanne & Robert, 127).

With the increased customer centric business ecosystem such as capital products within the production sector, it becomes important to critically analyse flow of overall business processes in regard to changing market scenarios. The ERP systems provide firms with much sought means in the management of production capacity, shipment schedules as well as material availability (Nieuwenhuyse & Inneke, Pg 3). ERP assist those firms that seek to realign their business strategy geared at strengthening market base as well as new business areas. Successful implementation of BPR tends to be cost effective. However, successful application both at the back and front office is a tedious affair. Moreover, synergizing both BPR and ERP proves challenging for stakeholders as numerous issues; technical and technical must be addressed concurrently whilst ensuring that a strategic business model works (Davenport, Thomas, Jeanne & Robert, 141).

What impact does an increase in Focus and Development of Al Technology and Bots have on IT Assurance?

Information Technology Assurance is the exercise of assuring information through assessment of IT (Information Technology) control ecosystem that aims at mitigating potential technological risks. Information Technology yields civilization. Every aspect of civilization emanates from intelligence. This means that amplifying human intelligence with the artificial intelligence can make civilization flourish (Brady, Michael, Lester & Harold, pg 125).

In today’s world, the application of AI technology and Robot has become rampant. This emanates from the use of SIRI (virtual personal assistant on Apple’s phones) to the use of self-driving cars (Google cars). Artificial Intelligence is portrayed by science fiction as robots bearing human-like characteristics. The AI system encompasses anything ranging from search algorithms to autonomous weapons (Brady, Michael, Lester & Harold, pg 125).

In the modern times, Artificial Intelligence is referred to as narrow AI. This is emanates from its features of performing a narrow task such as facial recognition, internet search and or its ability to drive a car. However, research aspires to come up with general AI. While the narrow AI out-perform human is some minor specific tasks such as playing chess, general AI will out-perform humans in every cognitive task.

While humans continue to embrace AI technology and bots in the modern way of doing things, the need to ensure its safety becomes inevitable. Thus, the confined goal of keeping the impact of AI within societal benefits motivates research in a number of areas. These include economics, verification, law, security, validity as well as control. AI technology will solve minor technological problems like computer hacking. The best part is achieved by installing AI system which takes control of any automated trading system or a power grid. On the other hand, it can become quite devastating in an instance where humans lack the ability to control AI systems such as lethal autonomous weapons (Brady, Michael, Lester & Harold, pg 128).

The critical question underlying AI technology is; what if robots and AI intelligence achieve success and becomes better than humans at every cognitive task? The design of smart Al systems constitutes a cognitive task. The system can easily undergo recursive improvement, which can then trigger intelligence explosion. This can cause human intelligence to be left far behind. However, inventions of super intelligence system can assist in development of technological tools that can easily alleviate poverty and diseases. Thus, coming up with a strong AI system may prove to be the biggest event as far as human history is concerned. However, technology experts continue to express concerns that the goals of AI systems should be aligned with human goals in order to alleviate cases of developing super-intelligent systems (Brady, Michael, Lester & Harold, pg 127).

The underlying questions that crops up are; why should strong AI systems be developed? Why do human insist on creating strong AI systems? Will the creation of strong super intelligent AI systems be beneficial or risky? According to research, there is a possibility that all these will be achieved overtime. Moreover, it is prudent to recognise the possibility of AI technology and robots to either intentionally or unintentionally cause great harm. This means that the continuous development of these systems pose a threat to IT assurance. However, through research, such threats and avenues of harm are prevented. Humans are therefore optimistic that they will leap the benefits of AI technology whilst at the same time avoiding pitfalls.

A number of researchers contend that super intelligent AI systems are unlikely to exhibit human-being-like emotions. They therefore assert that there is no need to expect that the systems will turn out to be intentionally benevolent and or malevolent. However, while considering how AI technology may become a threat, two different scenarios are advanced.

The first scenario is when an AI system is programmed to perform devastating acts. In this case, the system might be used to develop weapons of mass destruction. This can be amplified if such techno falls in the hands of wrong individuals. In such an instance, the development of AI system may result to AI war where AI system may be used as the main gadget. In order to alleviate such a scenario, experts assert that AI systems should design in a way that it will be difficult to turn off. Thus, humans should be in a position of losing control of such a system. This risk is prevalent with narrow AI systems. However, the risk grows as intelligence and autonomy augment (Brady, Michael, Lester & Harold, pg 134).

The second scenario is when an AI system is developed to perform a beneficial act but develops destructive method in achieving its mandate. This may occur if the goals of the system are not aligned with human goals. For instance, if a self driving car is commanded by its owner to drive him to the airport fast as it can, it may cause a controversial scene with traffic officers. The car may perform its tasks as instructed but not what the human expected. Moreover, if a super intelligent device is given a task within an ambitious geo-engineering assignment, it may end up wrecking havoc with the ecosystem. It may then perceive human attempts barring it as an intimidation (Brady, Michael, Lester & Harold, pg 129).

Therefore, any super intelligent AI system may turn out competent in accomplishing its goals. However, if the goals of the system are never aligned with human goals, a problem occurs. It is at this instance that control on the system goes over board and risks cannot be mitigated.

Collaboration Software is all about Consolidation of Systems and Processes

Consolidation of business processes and systems makes sense. This is achieved through collaboration software. Cost savings emanates right across business IT infrastructure. The business experience improved visibility, better decision making as well as extra agility. Consolidation tightens alignment of IT strategy with long-term vision of the organisation. It results in business integration hub that is robust and scalable (Camarinha-Matos, Luis, Hamideh & Martin).

Works Cited

Ngai, Eric WT, Chuck CH Law, and Francis KT Wat. «Examining the critical success factors in the adoption of enterprise resource planning.» Computers in industry 59.6 (2008): 548-564.

Van Nieuwenhuyse, Inneke, et al. «Advanced resource planning as a decision support module for ERP.» Computers in Industry 62.1 (2011): 1-8.

Davenport, Thomas H., Jeanne G. Harris, and Robert Morison. Analytics at work: Smarter decisions, better results. Harvard Business Press, 2010.

Brady, Michael, Lester Gerhardt, and Harold F. Davidson, eds. Robotics and artificial intelligence. Vol. 11. Springer Science & Business Media, 2012.

Camarinha-Matos, Luis, Hamideh Afsarmanesh, and Martin Ollus, eds. Methods and tools for collaborative networked organizations. Springer Science+ Business Media, LLC, 2008.