Feral systems and enterprise resource planning systems: content and dynamics.
Book chapter, 2013
Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) systems continue, even in 2013, to be an important change agenda in business. With a long-term development spanning 15 years, ERP systems have changed profoundly and diversified into a number of businesses. Yet this chapter is initially addressing two major issues left aside in the Information Systems (IS) research on ERP: the technological content and the time dynamics. Using two different small reviews of journal articles from IS journals in 2004 and 2010, it is shown how IS research on ERP delivers strong insight into social processes and conditions around ERP, including forms of employee response to the mandated software routines, but largely disregards the content development of the ERP technology, delivering research where it appears to be enough to characterize the technology through the mere term “ERP”. This means that ERP research is disregarding the profound technology changes and their impact on the challenges for employees, when implementing and operating ERP.
Actors within organizations are in fact attempting to cope with these profound technology changes and the business challenges associated with ERP implementations by finding ways to fit their practices into these large integrated systems, and one strategy is developing their own (feral) systems . This development could be due to a multitude of factors, including the level of managerial competence, a lack of contextual understanding of the functions of the existing ERP system and a mistrust of the system. We contend that context and the ideals of ERP systems are often providing rapid and profound changes that many find hard to cope with, and this could be due to a lack of understanding of the content (i.e. software functions, procedures and architecture) of the ERP system. In this chapter we contend that it could be this lack of understanding of the content of the ERP and employee work requirements that could lead to the development of feral information systems. The chapter concludes with a call for more training and education for all employees in the content of the ERP and a need to build more contextual research in the study of ERP.
Enterprise Resource Planning