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Bridging Consultants and User Representatives in ERP Implementation: An Exploratory Study of Knowled

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Consultants' view: ... Challenge Consultants' Assumptions ... 'I want to make sure that they (user reps) know what the consultants are saying. ... – PowerPoint PPT presentation

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Title: Bridging Consultants and User Representatives in ERP Implementation: An Exploratory Study of Knowled


1
Bridging Consultants and User Representatives in
ERP Implementation An Exploratory Study of
Knowledge Brokering by User Leaders
  • Research-in-Process
  • Xuefei (Nancy) Deng
  • The Shidler College of Business
  • University of Hawaii at Manoa, USA
  • xuefei_at_hawaii.edu
  • Dec. 9, 2007
  • ES-SIG 2nd Enterprise Systems Pre-ICIS 2007
    Workshop

2
Agenda
  • Research Motivation
  • Challenges in ERP Requirements analysis and
    design phase
  • Mixed design teams including consultants and
    key users
  • Theoretical Background
  • Situated Learning and Knowledge Brokering
  • Research method
  • On-site observations, interviews project
    archives
  • Qualitative study
  • Results
  • User leaders and knowledge brokering practices
  • Contributing factors to an effective knowledge
    brokering practice
  • Consequence of knowledge brokering practice
  • Conclusion

3
Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) systems
  • Definition
  • Configurable information systems packages that
    integrate information and information-based
    processes within and across functional areas in
    an organization (Kumar and Hillegersberg, 2000).
  • Many ERP implementations fail, partly due to
  • Absence of alignment (Davenport, 1998)
  • misfits (Markus and Tanis, 2000).
  • Involving the key users in the implementation
    project to learn about the misfits
  • user-consultant mixed team facilitates
    consultants learning of business domain (Markus
    and Tanis, 2000 Soh et al., 2000).
  • Users learning of ERP configuration knowledge
    from consultants (Robey et al., 2002).

4
Different Views on ERP Implementation
  • Users view
  • The only concern I have is that all the changes
    and requirements are not being addressed by the
    consultant to have the system work the way we
    want it to, but the way they want it to work,
    which is not in the best interest of the
    project.
  • --(from interview of a user representative-subjec
    t matter expert (SME))
  • Consultants view
  • The user participants need to think
    outside-of-box when providing user requirements.
    They need to be forward-thinking. However, this
    is difficult for them.
  • --(from the interview of a consultant)

5
Research Focus and Research Questions
  • Focus on User Leaders
  • A special type of user representatives,
    experienced functional managers hired from the
    client organization to work full-time for the
    project, and to lead the project team.
  • RQ1 What role does a user leader play in
    identifying the misfits in the user-consultants
    mixed teams?
  • RQ2 Does the role evolve during the two phases
    (conceptual design vs. functional design) of the
    project?

6
Research Setting
  • A 40,000-employee enterprise
  • 4 implementation sites (Hospital A, Hospital B,
    University and College)
  • 4-year, 200 million project starting Dec. 2003.
  • 24 teams, 4 modules of SAP R/3
  • Research period Requirements Analysis and design
    phase
  • Conceptual Requirements (March September 2004)
  • Functional Requirements (October December 2004)

7
Theoretical Background Knowledge Brokering and
Situated Learning
  • Community of practice, specific social context
    for knowledge acquisition (Lave and Wenger, 1991)
  • Knowledge Brokers experienced members who
    participated in multiple communities, well
    positioned to facilitate knowledge transfer among
    the communities. (Brown and Duguid, 1998)
  • IT professionals in an organizational setting---
    facilitating the flow of knowledge about IT and
    business practices across the work unit
    boundaries (Pawlowski and Robey, 2004)

8
Organization Chart of the ERP Project
9
Data Collection and Analysis
  • Data sources
  • Two functional teams HR/Payroll and Finance
  • observations (11 day-long sessions)
  • interviews (9)
  • archived design documents (40)
  • Data analysis (Miles and Huberman, 1994)
  • Identified themes and patterns in the data.
  • Conducted iteratively between examination of data
    and development of theoretical interpretations

10
Results
11
Result--Knowledge Brokering Practices (1a)
Cross boundary interpreting and translating
  • During Conceptual Design High-level Business
    Process
  • (Observation from an HR/Organization Management
    session, July 2004)
  • -- Consultant Nurse is a JOB, and ER nurse is a
    position. Object-oriented concept, make JOB
    general to reduce maintenance cost, and any
    position required will be inherited from JOB.
  • --User Can you clarify the relationship between
    Job and Position?
  • --Consultant A person fills in a position, 1 to
    1 relationship.
  • --Leader JOB is a general category of
    positions, such as Nurse. There are many
    positions of Nurse available in Emergency Room.
    Each one of them is considered a Position.

12
Result -- Knowledge Brokering Practices (1b)
Cross boundary interpreting and translating
  • During Functional Design --- Mapping High-Level
    Processes to SAP Functions
  • (Observation from an HR/Benefits session, October
    2004)
  • --- User C Optional nurses only work 20
    hours/week, usually on weekends, Friday,
    Saturday, and Sunday nights, 8 hour shifts each.
    They are temporary in nature, but they enjoy the
    full-time benefits rates.
  • --- Consultant OK, in the matrix, we can put
    Full-time Option Nurse, and eligible for
    full-time benefits rate. Is that correct?
  • --- User C It is correct. But I dont know. They
    are actually temporary employee, should be moved
    from full-time category to temporary category.
  • --- Leader (to consultant) I think what the user
    C is trying to say is, the type of employment and
    the type of benefits are two distinct categories,
    but there is an established linkage between them,
    such as temporary employment (such as Option
    Nurse) is linked to full-time benefits.

13
Result -- Knowledge Brokering Practices (2a)
Challenge Users Assumptions
  • During Conceptual Design High-level Business
    Process
  • To help user reps see more opportunities for
    business process improvement, user leaders
    deliberately asked user reps why questions.
  • Example discussing employee benefits, and the
    unique treatment for a sub-group of employees
  • (observation from a HR/benefit session, July
    2004)
  • Leader Why are they (weekend optional nurses)
    treated differently?
  • User Driven by staffing issues. They got more
    money.
  • Leader How large is the population?
  • User 1000-2000 people. We like to simplify the
    weekend nurse category.

14
Result -- Knowledge Brokering Practices (2b)
Challenge Consultants Assumptions
  • During Functional Design Mapping High-Level
    Processes to SAP Functions
  • Example User leaders deliberately asked
    consultants how questions to bring up a
    missing report element in SAP.
  • (observation from a HR/benefit session, October
    2004)
  • --- Leader How would the system know that it is
    same sex domestic partner and their child?
  • --- Consultant There is a parking issue here. To
    what extent is document required for enrollment
    to prove eligibility?
  • --- User C Spouse and domestic partner have
    different taxation impact. The premium for
    domestic partner is post-tax. We should keep them
    separate.

15
Result Factors Contributing to an effective
knowledge brokering practice (1) Credibility of
the knowledge broker
  • (from interview of a consultant)
  • We have domain experts in the team (e.g. John
    with 15 years at one organization, and Mary with
    30 years at another) they have the experience
    and same background with the user participants,
    who can comfortably relate to.
  • (from observation of a user group meeting)
  • User representatives in the finance/Internal
    costing session trusted the expertise of the user
    leader, and invited her to their user group
    meeting.

16
Result Factors Contributing to an effective
knowledge brokering practice (2) Pressure on
the knowledge broker
  • (from interview of a user leader)
  • I want to make sure that they (user reps) know
    what the consultants are saying. For example,
    infotype is the SAP terminology, but user reps
    may interpret it differently from consultants.
    My job is to make sure that consultants use
    common terms in explaining SAP system, and for me
    to interpret the organizational business
    processes to the consultants.
  • One challenges is that I dont know SAP as I
    hope to know.

17
Result Factors Contributing to an effective
knowledge brokering practice (3) Team Stability
  • Client organization entered agreement with the
    consulting company on consultant stability.
  • (from interview of a user leader)
  • The turnover of the consultants resulted in the
    loss of that organizational knowledge. It is
    unfortunate that we experienced this turnover of
    consultants.

18
Result Consequences of Knowledge Brokering
  • 1. Facilitated knowledge transfer between
    consultants and user representatives.
  • E.g., discussion on the internal costing and the
    primary vs. secondary cost centers.
  • 2. Facilitated knowledge creation and improved
    business processes.
  • E.g., dropped the category of divorced spouse
    and added court-ordered dependents for benefits
    plans
  • 3. Became an invaluable organization memory for
    ERP implementation knowledge

19
Implications
  • An effective knowledge brokering practice
    benefits from the knowledge brokers user
    leaders expertise in business functions and
    confidence in ERP knowledge
  • Consultants sharing knowledge and perspectives
    with the user leaders.
  • Project management exposing the user leaders to
    ERP training earlier
  • Achieving a shared understanding about the
    business processes and requirements details is
    important for the team design quality
  • Promote activities to understand the nature of
    team, task and rules governing team-member
    behavior (Klimoski and Mohammed, 1994).
  • User Leaders impact beyond the implementation
  • Become the real boundary spanners with their
    acquired ERP knowledge (Levina and Vasst, 2005) .
  • Better maintain the ERP systems (Ko et al., 2005)
  • Organizational personnel retention policies.

20
Contribution, Limitation and Future Work
  • Contributions
  • provides insights into managing misfit and
    misalignment in ERP projects.
  • Extending the results to knowledge work teams
    drawing cross-boundary expertise
  • Limitation
  • The generalizability of the findings likely to be
    constrained by the geographic location and
    organization structure
  • Future Work
  • How to enhance/measure shared understanding
    between users and consultants in this mixed team
    setting.

21
  • Questions and Comments?
  • Thank You.
  • Xuefei (Nancy) Deng
  • The Shidler College of Business
  • University of Hawaii at Manoa, USA
  • xuefei_at_hawaii.edu
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