The ‘methodology’ is the overall strategic approach to the empirical research, and the ‘techniques’ are the practical tactics for data collection and analysis. A range of literature was reviewed to assist the selection process, including Sapsford and Jupp (2006), and Biggam (2008), against evaluation criteria including the research objectives; the overall context; and the research questions, and their data definitions. The most suitable method and techniques were selected and formed the process for data collection, analysis and presentation.
The population frame and sample The population frame comprised UK commercial retail organizations operating sap erp products. For practical reasons six were selected by means of ‘convenience sampling’ using the criteria that they: represent good examples of the frame; are typical of the organizational type the research aims to assist; and are all active users of recently implemented contemporary SAP products.
Many large and medium sized retail organizations are candidate customers for ERP systems based upon potential supply-chain efficiencies and pressure to integrate computer systems with suppliers (DMS Retail, 2009). However, ERP systems are notoriously expensive to purchase, and usually need expensive consultancy (Presley, 2004) to implement and support.
For all these reasons, retail organizations have a strong interest in carefully assessing their suitability and capability when selecting and implementing their ERP systems.
Quantitative and qualitative data was required to answer the research questions. This is because ERP system implementation is a complex ‘socio-technical’ process and often conducted within a particular context where multiple-versions of ‘reality’ exist. Consequentially people needed to be individually consulted therefore the Survey method was selected, using ‘cross-sectional’ Questionnaire and Interview techniques to solicit multiple opinions from a range of organizational contexts for a short period in time.
A minimum of three questionnaire respondents were required from each of the six organizations, and two interviewees were selected from two organizations in each classification. Therefore in total there were 22 individuals surveyed with 18 by questionnaire and 4 by interview.
In 1996 Kvale asserts that the number of interview subjects required is simply the number necessary to find out ‘what needs to be known’, which in this case meant that responses were reasonable, unbiased and representative. Ideally a larger number of interviews would have been desirable; however it was felt that two semi-structured interviews from each category of large and medium organization would contribute sufficiently to the research in supporting the closed-question questionnaire whilst adding a welcome additional illustrative dimension.
Furthermore, although planning and conducting a larger number of interviews was beyond the researcher’s resources, Kvale asserts that significant generalizable knowledge can be obtained from interviewing a small number of subjects of sufficient quality and expertise; this process was duly fulfilled.
Framework For Data Analysis
Having defined the data collection method and techniques, the next step was to outline the overall framework to receive, store, process, categorise, describe, analyse and draw conclusions from the collected data. The low volume allowed Qualitative data processing using simple statistical analysis methods, whilst he quantitative data was pre-processed using content analysis to create quantitative data for similar statistical analysis. In both cases, the results are presented formats using tables and graphical tools in summary and raw forms.
The Population Frame And Sample
The retail sector faces increasing pressure to reduce operational costs, and one area in focus is the ‘supply chain’, which is often controlled using ERP systems. The exploitation of global production options, cheap labour, and robust communication links are overt ERP driving forces, and ERP systems increasingly support day-to-day activities, including managing supply and demand. SAP-derived ERP products represent the largest market-share, and all organizations in the convenience sample operated SAP ERP systems.
Furthermore, anecdotal evidence of difficulties experienced with best-selling SAP ERP products, supported by published statistics, asserted that SAP implementations require the most ‘customization’. For example, adjusting a purchasing business process, or altering screen layouts are considered ‘customization’. Other researchers have also successfully focused upon SAP products and drawn similar conclusions.
It therefore seemed reasonable that hr system hong kong users would provide a rich source of useful material for an inquiry into ERP implementation success and failures, whilst acknowledging other products may yield significant differences.
This research focused upon evaluating high-end ERP implementations. However the literature review found ERP suppliers are increasingly targeting SMEs. As noted earlier, the driving force may be saturation of the large organization marketplace and consequentially many smaller organizations also risk financial and reputational damage from ERP implementations.
Recognising this and providing an evaluation framework for rejection or adaptation is a key part of the aim. To reflect this, the sample organizations were chosen to fit into classifications of ‘medium’ and ‘large’, based on latest available turnover being below or above £1bn, however many of the resulting framework elements are likely to apply equally well to smaller organizations.