ERP SOFTWARE HIGHER EDUCATION INDUSTRY FOCUS
Special thanks to Ian Charmichael for this contribution
Higher education administrators grapple both with the costs and possibilities afforded by enterprise resource planning (ERP) software, a significant feat given an ERP software implementation’s sustained impact on the academic institution. ERP software applications integrate the data processing across the institution and automate administrative processes like student registration and financial accounting. However, an ERP software implementation stresses a campus under the best of circumstances. Depending upon the organization’s readiness to accommodate change, the implementation creates great turmoil or promotes sustained changes that help the institution better achieve its mission. As an ERP application implementation becomes a way of life rather than a project with a finite end, campus leaders are well advised to identify implementation best practices in order to increase their chances of success. How administrators can lead successful implementations, and what best practices they should use, was the focus of a recent research study. This article summarizes that survey of higher education chief financial and information (that is, chief technology) officers’ perceptions regarding ERP software implementation best practices.
Chief financial officers (CFOs) and chief information officers (CIOs) occupy leadership positions that are closely aligned with ERP software implementations. CFOs are accountable in managing the institution’s resources and oversee areas where the software is being implemented (e.g. accounting, budgeting, payroll, human resources) and often have to secure funding for implementation in other functional areas. CIOs are responsible for providing the technical guidance and infrastructure to support ERP software, including staff, project management and hardware.
Purpose of the Study
Best Practice Findings
CFOs ranked lowest the statement regarding the reassignment of project team members’ normal responsibilities for the project’s duration, which is troubling given its wide prevalence in the literature. Financial constraints often hamper management’s ability to backfill positions; some positions’ unique natures also discourage temporary staffing. However, not adjusting workloads means that employees juggle multiple priorities. This situation, coupled with extended working hours, may cause less than optimal results, staff burnout and staff turnover.
CIOs ranked lowest the statement regarding early initiation of the data conversion process from the prior software application to the new, which contradicts commonly accepted advocacy of early and frequent data conversion. Data conversion is expensive and very time consuming, and financial constraints may hamper realization of this best practice. CIOs are also reluctant to commit resources to data conversion until later, when system specifications have been finalized.
ERP Software Industry Focus