Enterprise resource planning (ERP) systems are turning out to be very important technologies in the supporting of inter- and intra-company business processes and practices even in small and medium enterprises. However, the decision to install an ERP system necessitates a choice of mechanisms for measuring whether the ERP is required, and if implemented it will be successful as ERP systems are complex and expensive. There are several ways in which businesses have come up with that they have used to measure the success of the ERP system. One of the evaluation methods used in determining the success of the ERP system is the use of User satisfaction. This paper is based on the article Measuring ERP success: the ultimate users’ view by Jen-Her Wu and Yu-Min Wang posted in the International Journal of Operations and Production Management (2006, 885) that looks at key-user satisfaction as a means of determining system success. The objective of this paper is to critically analyze the use of user satisfaction as a means of determining the success of the ERP systems as put forth by Jen-Her Wu and Yu-Min Wang in the article. T
he paper looks at determining how effective their research was, areas which they did not give detailed information on the ERP systems and what can be done to improve on ERP systems. The article by Jen-Her Wu is well researched and well written. The authors use a writing format in which the information to be communicated is well structured and this enhances better understanding of the ERP systems by anyone who undertakes to read the article. Jen-Her and Yu-Min clearly give a brief summary of the paper in their abstract and that includes the purpose which is the main factor for the research which is to develop a reliable and valid instrument that will be used for measuring ultimate user satisfaction, the research design that mainly includes the interviewing of the participants and the findings of the research. Though well detailed, the abstract fails to inform us, the readers, the scope of the research that is if the research focuses on business enterprises only. With a well detailed abstract, the authors clearly make it easy for a reader to have a general overview of the research even without reading the findings in detail. In addition, introducing a subject of research is of great importance in any research as the introduction gives a general overview of what the subject of research entails (Young, 2007, 54) and also the application of the subject in the different areas. The background information gives details on already conducted research on the subject by other researchers and briefly indicates their findings (Bingi et al., 2005, 214). Its importance is that it provides a researcher with more information on the subject.
The research method and findings all help to support the research especially the findings as it gives results of your fieldwork (Segars, 2010). Finally, the discussion and conclusion are a must as it allows the author to explain their findings in details and also show if the subject of the research had a positive or negative impact. It is clear from the article that Jen-Her and Yu-Min applied the above structure for their research paper and this makes the paper easy to understand and read. Even though there is no clear definition of ERP system (Klaus et al., 2000, 21) according to Jen-Her ERP is defined as information system packages that can be configured to integrate several business activities such as combining inventory data with human resources data. With such integration organizations can be able to handle their resources effectively (Markus et al., 2000, 22). This definition of what ERP is relevant as it allows a reader with no knowledge of ERP to understand what it is all about. Furthermore, the authors give a brief history of ERP which is seen to have evolved from material requirements planning (MRP) (Ahituv, 2002, p.56). With such information, one can go and read more on MRP thus enhancing their understanding of ERP. This clearly indicates that the information being provided by Jen-Her and Yu-Min is reliable and well researched. The use of in text citation from the different references indicated shows that the research done by the authors can be said to be conclusive as they read widely and consulted widely from already done research. Therefore, Jen-Her and Yu-Min information is conclusive and can be used effectively by organizations. We therefore conclude that the information by the authors is correct as it is based on facts and figures which can be seen in the research findings section of the article. To ease the understanding of the ERP system, the authors give a brief concept of the system. It is based on a single central database that receives data, feeds the data into applications that support the organization’s functions and it updates information once it receives it and if needed it can be retrieved with ease (Davenport & Brooks, 2005, 54). They also clearly show that to achieve a successful implementation of the system, three factors have to be considered and they include the ERP package developers, the ERP system developers using it and ERP system users. All these factors if allowed to work together will result in a successful ERP system for organizations (Bendoly & Jacobs, 2004, 33). Jen-Her and Yu-Min noted that the ERP system does not necessarily prove successful in an organization and some organizations have abandoned its implementation due to some challenges. The success rate of ERP implementation is about 33% (Kumar et al., 2000, 99). Some of these challenges, though not mentioned in the article include the great size and complexity of the ERP packages and also unprecedented changes within the organization maybe in the management or structure (Soh et al., 2000, pg.46). Also, cultural misfits have been a challenge as the system fails to address specific functional needs associated with the local practices (Soh et al., 2000, pg.47).
The authors furthermore failed to identify that the lack of top management support, change in the human resource, resistance and poor commitment could also hinder the implementation of the ERP system. Such information is important as it looks at both sides of the issue in detail. Jen-Her and Yu-Min argue that the best measure of information system is the use of user satisfaction. User satisfaction is defined as the summation of a customer’s feelings and attitude towards factors that are related to the delivery on information products and services (Ali and Saad, 2005, 32). The use of user satisfaction can be argued to be a good way of measuring user satisfaction as the customers are the people who are targeted by organizations when delivering services and products (Segars, 2010, 167). The attitude of the customers towards a service or product will greatly inform the producer about their package. A well received package in the market clearly indicates that customers are satisfied. Therefore, we can say that the authors’ argument that user satisfaction is best suited to measure ERP success is valid. In the measurement of ERP success, the authors give a brief history of the measure of user satisfaction. They identify different models used such as that developed by Bailey; a seven point semantic differential scale that has four bipolar adjectives that describe positive and negative feelings towards a system.
This system provides a broad base of user satisfaction related themes (Abdinnour-Helm et al., 2003, 44). Another model used measured user satisfaction in three areas that include information product, electronic data processing staff and service and user knowledge and involvement. With the use of these models, Somer et al (2003, 45) concluded that there were consistent satisfaction dimensions which included the content, accuracy, format, timeliness and the ease of use. Such information used enables the reader to understand there are models used for user satisfaction and they are feasible. We also note that Jen-Her and Yu-Min state certain factors that should be considered when designing an ERP satisfaction model. These factors include quality of the project team, ERP system product and ultimate user ERP system interaction and information product. All these are important in ERP user satisfaction construct. The researchers, Jen-Her and Yu-Min used a research model that comprised of three phases. The first phase, they developed a measuring instrument that was examined for completeness and clarity through interviewing of users. The second phase consisted of a pilot phase where already interviewed respondents were asked to determine if the items were important and relevant to ERP satisfaction construct. The last phase included the determining of the reliability and validity of the ERP satisfaction construct. The planning of the research method into different phases helps the authors to save on time and have a clear objective on their research as research is conducted in an organized manner (Doll & Torkzaden, 2006, 112).
There research also involved reviewing previous researches which allowed them to compare works and also give a guideline on what is required from the research. The re-interviewing of respondents is important as it gives one feedback which can be used for correction, refining and enhancing the results (Young, 2007, 234). Such is observed of the authors as they re-interviewed respondents from the different firms they conducted research on. Their research involved collecting data from three sectors that included manufacturing, financial and service organizations. Indicating the areas of research is important as it gives the reader a sense of what the research focuses on (ERP, 2009, 88). The paper fails to show the impact of ERP user satisfaction on the business and the users. It is important that it is mentioned as these impacts can greatly help in making of decisions. Some of the impacts of the ERP user satisfaction include cutting on the organizational communication costs and increased efficiency in the organization as the system allows ease of access to required information (ERP, 2009, 123). On the other hand, ERP user satisfaction can lead to increase in organizational costs as the system keeps changing with time and improvements need to be done and also training on how to use the system has to be given. Also, due to the linking of the systems, inaccurate data input into one module will greatly affect the functioning of the other modules and therefore information fed to the system must be accurate (Bingi, 2005, 65). In their discussion, the authors point out that the ERP ultimate user satisfaction is a multidimensional construct which is true because initially we observed that ERP systems is a link among many modules which feed information to one place and it can be accessed by different persons from different points. Their construct is dependent on ERP project team, ERP product and user knowledge and involvement.
The ERP ultimate user satisfaction construct is viable though it can be expensive and complex. If implemented in organizations, it can be very useful. Jen-Her and Yu-Min clearly define their purpose and throughout the paper they have managed to attain their purpose. Also, as their research targeted organizations, we can conclusively say that their findings are well researched and reliable. The research was a success as it enabled us to understand the ERP user satisfaction construct and the use of diagrams also furthered the understanding. The research was well conducted and presented and above all informative.