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A Knowledge Management System for ERP Implementation

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An enterprise resource planning (ERP) is an enterprise-wide application software package that integrates all necessary business functions into a single system with a common database. Its implementation is a complex process in terms of technology preparation and organizational change management. Although the importance of knowledge management (KM) in ERP implementation has been recognized, how to conduct knowledge management has not received deserved attention till now. The main objective of this paper is to develop a KMsystem to manage the knowledge of ERP implementation process. To accomplish this, the article first identifies the types of knowledge in ERP implementation.......

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  1. Systems Research and Behavioral Science Syst. Res. 23,157^168 (2006) Published online inWiley InterScience ( DOI:10.1002/sres.751 & Research Paper A Knowledge Management System for ERP Implementation Yuan Li*, Xiu Wu Liao and Hong Zhen Lei School of Management, Xian Jiaotong University, Xian, China An enterprise resource planning (ERP) is an enterprise-wide application software package that integrates all necessary business functions into a single system with a common database. Its implementation is a complex process in terms of technology pre- paration and organizational change management. Although the importance of knowledge management (KM) in ERP implementation has been recognized, how to conduct knowledge management has not received deserved attention till now. The main objective of this paper is to develop a KM system to manage the knowledge of ERP implementation process. To accomplish this, the article first identifies the types of knowledge in ERP implementation. It then summarizes various KM activities based on a six-stage model. At last, it proposes a KM system that consists of cooperative working platform, consulting platform, individual KM platform, organizational KM platform, and knowledge transfer platform. This system can effectively manage knowledge and provide support for the successful implementation of an ERP system. Copyright # 2006 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd. Keywords enterprise information systems; enterprise resource planning; knowledge manage- ment; systems research; systems engineering; systems approach; MIS; management information systems INTRODUCTION product choice, provide more reliable delivery dates and better customer service, improve In today’s dynamic and unpredictable business quality, and efficiently coordinate globe demand, environment, companies face the tremendous supply and production (Li, 2000a; Li and Li, 2000; challenge of expanding markets and rising custo- Umble et al., 2003). In order to accomplish these mer expectations. This compels them to lower objectives, more and more companies are turning total costs in the entire supply chain, shorten to the enterprise resource planning systems throughput times, reduce inventories, expand (ERP). An ERP is a packaged enterprise-wide information system that integrates all necessary * Correspondence to: Yuan Li, School of Management, Xian Jiaotong business functions, such as product planning, University, Xian 710049, China. E-mail: purchasing, inventory control, sales, financial Contract/grant sponsor: NSFC; contract/grant numbers: 70121001; and human resources, into a single system with 70472039; 70571063. a shared database (Alavi and Leidner, 2001). Copyright # 2006 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.
  2. RESEARCH PAPER Syst. Res. A successfully implemented ERP can offer of an ERP implementation. These factors include companies the following three major benefits top management support, business plan and (Yusuf et al., 2004): vision, organizational change management and culture, business process re-engineering (BPR), * Automating business process data accuracy, education and training, and ven- * Timely access to management information ´ dor selection and support, etc (Tchokogue et al., * Improving supply chain management through 2005; Kumar et al., 2003; Somers et al., 2004; the use of e-commerce Umble et al., 2003; Sheu et al., 2004; Motwni et al., In the past few years, thousands of companies 2002; Mabert et al., 2003; Al-Mudimigh et al., around the world have implemented ERP 2001; He, 2004). Although different authors systems. The number of companies that plan to may have their own diverse perspectives, they implement ERP is growing rapidly. AMR all consider that the most important factor Research, an authoritative market forecast insti- that influences successful ERP implementation tution in America, indicated that the ERP market is management, instead of technology; and would grow at annual rate of 37% in recent technology is only a minor factor. Thus, it is 5 years. The sales of the ERP packaged software especially important to investigate the issue of are estimated to be around $20 billion by the year how to enhance management in ERP implemen- 2000 and the eventual market size is predicted to tation process. be around $1 trillion by the year 2010 (Rajagopal, The process of implementing ERP begins with 2002). Even in China, a developing country, ERP planning. After planning is completed, a project has also become a main product in the software team embarks on and then moves through a market and the sales have approached six number of discrete phases. After the system is hundreds million RMB in the first half of 2002 up and running, there may be a post-implemen- (Li, 2000b; Li et al., 2001; Chaudhry et al., 2005; tation review and later a stabilization phase Dan et al., 2005; Wang et al., 2005; Xu et al., 2005). (Parr and Shanks, 2000). In the model proposed Surprisingly, given the significant investment in by Kwon and Zmud (Kwon and Zmud, 1987; resources and time, many companies did not Rajagopal, 2002), ERP implementation process achieve success in ERP implementation. It is can be divided into six stages: initiation, adop- estimated that the failure rate of ERP implemen- tion, adaptation, acceptance, routinization and tation ranges from 40 to 60% or higher (Umble et infusion (see Figure 1). The first or the initiation al., 2003). Some surveys and researches indicate is characterized by both internal and exter- that successful outcome is also not guaranteed nal factors that influence the organization to even under ideal circumstances. Researchers implement an ERP system. At this stage, the consider that the factors such as organizational change and process re-engineering, the enter- prise-wide implications, the high resource commitment, and high potential business bene- Next Innovation Initiation fits and risks associated with ERP systems make the implementation a much complex exercise ´ (Kumar et al., 2003; Tchokogue et al., 2005). It is Infusion Adoption therefore not surprising that numerous compa- nies have abandoned their ERP projects before completion or have failed to achieve their busi- ness objectives after implementation (Cliffe, Routinization Adaptation 1999). Many experts and scholars have investi- gated this issue from various angles. Some pro- vide valuable insights into ERP implementation Acceptance process and others identify a variety of factors that can be considered to be critical to the success Figure 1. ERP implementation process Copyright ß 2006 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd. Syst. Res. 23,157^168 (2006) 158 Yuan Li et al.
  3. Syst. Res. RESEARCH PAPER organization must carefully define why the ERP the system, and learn implementation experience system is to be implemented and what critical from other organizations. After a certain type business the system will address. Additionally, of ERP software is chosen, most organizations education is also given to the employees. They usually align their business processes with the will learn some new knowledge about the functionality provided by the ERP system, rather development history, basic concepts, main func- than customizing the ERP package to match their tional modules of ERP, and the benefits of imple- current processes. These organizations may dis- menting an ERP. After ERP education is finished, card previous business processes and accept the the implementation process enters the second standardized business processes. In other words, stage. Organization will carry out investment the explicit business knowledge incorporated in decision and cost–benefit analysis related to the software is transferred to the adopting implementing ERP and select appropriate brand organization (Lee and Lee, 2000). On the other or vendor. In the adaptation stage, the organi- hand, an ERP system is not just a pure software zation analyses the details of the various busi- package to be tailored to an organization. It ness processes and actualizes business process also represents an organizational infrastructure re-engineering (BPR) to exploit the full potential that affects how people work and imposes its of ERP. BPR has long been considered one of the own logic on a company’s strategy, organization key success factors in implementing major IT and culture. After organizations accept the projects, such as ERP, especially in firms that management mode of an ERP, the tacit knowl- have a strong corporate culture or that rely on edge related to the business process is trans- legacy systems. Once the business process is ferred to the adopting organization. Extant redesigned and system is customized, appro- studies (O’Leary, 2002) show that KM is asso- priate training is given to the end-users imme- ciated with ERP implementation intimately. diately and resistance may be observed because Based on the theory of KM and information of the ‘inertia’ associated with using the previous technology, it is possible to identify, capture, system. This stage is considered as the most transfer, and apply the knowledge created dur- difficult of all the stages. In the acceptance stage, ing ERP implementation process, and provide the integration of various functional units is effective support for the successful implementa- realized and continuous improvements are made tion of ERP (see Figure 2). Recently, some issues to make the system easy to use and to solve on KM in ERP implementation have been various problems. The users feel comfortable studied. O’Leary (2002) investigated the use of with using the ERP system. During the fifth knowledge management to support ERP systems stage, end-users accept the system completely. across entire life cycle, with particular interest in The ERP system usage becomes a regular day-to- case-based knowledge management. A proto- day activity. Organizational integration and type system designed to support the use of the internal function coordination are realized. At ERP system is also presented. Lee and Lee (2000) the infusion stage, the system is used to enhance proposed a new approach to analysing ERP the performance of the organization (Rajagopal, implementations from a knowledge transfer 2002). After years of operation, the company perspective. It also contributed to a better under- may need new system to cope with business standing of competitive advantage based on and technology change, so the first stage will be process knowledge when standardized business repeated again. processes are implemented by an organization. Although realizing ERP is an implementation Newell et al. (2003) examine related interactions process of information system, it is also a process and impacts as ERP and knowledge manage- of knowledge creation, storage/retrieval, trans- ment system implemented simultaneously with- fer and application from knowledge manage- in an organization. Haines and Goodhue (2003) ment (KM) perspectives. For example, in ERP give a framework that explains how consulting selection process, an organization needs to know involvement and knowledge of the organization the characteristics and functional modules of can impact the outcome of the project based on Copyright ß 2006 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd. Syst. Res. 23,157^168 (2006) A Knowledge Management System for ERP Implementation 159
  4. RESEARCH PAPER Syst. Res. The successful implementation of ERP Promote Knowledge management System in ERP implementation Support Theory of knowledge management Information technology Figure 2. The relation between KM and ERP implementation agency theory. Ko et al. (2005) proposed an KNOWLEDGE AND KNOWLEDGE integrated theoretical model in which knowledge MANAGEMENT transfer is influenced by knowledge-related, motivational, and communication-related fac- Knowledge management (KM) is an emerging tors. Although the importance of KM in ERP field (Rubenstein-Montanno et al., 2001; Xu et al., implementation has been recognized, how to 2001; Qiu et al., 2003; Sun et al., 2003; Zhang et al., conduct knowledge management to support 2003). It has gained tremendous popularity as such process has not received deserved attention one of the most promising ways for organi- till now. In this paper, a KM system in the zations to succeed in information age. In extant framework of systems theory is proposed to literatures, there are various views about knowl- manage the relevant knowledge of ERP imple- edge (Alavi and Leidner, 2001; Wong and mentation process (Xu, 2000). To accomplish this, Aspinwall, 2004; Wiig, 1997). The definition of the paper first identifies the types of knowledge knowledge adopted here is ‘knowledge is com- available in ERP implementation. It then sum- bined with experience, context, interpretation, marizes various KM activities based on the six- and reflection. It is a high-value form of infor- stage model. Lastly, a KM system is proposed mation that is ready to apply to decisions that consists of cooperative working platform, and actions’ (Albert and Baradley, 1997). consulting platform, individual KM platform, Although there are sundry knowledge cate- organizational KM platform, and knowledge gories, the tacit-explicit knowledge classification transfer platform. This system can effectively is widely cited. Explicit knowledge is transmit- manage knowledge and provide support for the table in formal, systematic way. It can be successful implementation of ERP systems. processed by a computer, transmitted electro- The rest of this paper is organized as follows: nically or stored in a database (Nonaka and the subsequent section introduces the basic Takenchi, 1995). On the other hand, tacit knowl- concepts and theory of KM. In the third section, edge is associated with personal experiences the knowledge sources in ERP implementation and difficult to fully articulate, and poorly are identified and various KM activities based on documented. Because it is subjective and intui- the six-stage model are summarized. In Section 4, tive, it is not easily processed or transmitted in a system of KM is developed. Final section will any systematic or logical manner (Lee and Lee, provide a summary about this paper. 2000). Copyright ß 2006 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd. Syst. Res. 23,157^168 (2006) 160 Yuan Li et al.
  5. Syst. Res. RESEARCH PAPER Within this context, KM refers to the strateg- consultants and internal experts, the gaps be- ies and processes of identifying, capturing, and tween internal experts and end-users, the gaps leveraging knowledge to help the firm compete. between end-users from different business units. In general, KM is regarded as a process involving How can these gaps be eliminated? (3) In ERP managing all kinds of knowledge to meet implementation, a lot of new tacit knowledge existing and emerging needs, to identify and will be created through discussion, communi- exploit existing and acquired knowledge assets cation, imitation and practice. How can such and to develop new opportunities (Jarrar, 2002). tacit knowledge be converted to organization- It consists of four basic processes: knowledge available knowledge? (4) The cross-functional creation, store/retrieve, transfer, and appli- interconnectivity of an ERP system requires the cation. Knowledge creation is the most important employees involve in implementation process to process in knowledge management. It is realized have more cross-functional knowledge, how do by the interaction between the tacit and explicit they access such knowledge? (5) When some key knowledge inside an organization. Four possible employees, such as the members of project team, conversion modes between the two types of retire or change job, they will take with them knowledge have been identified: socialization, valuable knowledge and skills associated with externalization, combination, and internalization ERP project. In order to prevent or reduce (Nonaka and Takenchi, 1995; Alavi and Leidner, interruptions in activities, and enhance overall 2001). The knowledge creation begins in the ability to cope with changes in personnel, how socialization mode. It refers to conversion of can an organization store their knowledge and tacit knowledge to new tacit knowledge thro- skills? ugh social interactions and shared experience among organizational members. After new tacit knowledge has been created, it is formalized and THE IDENTIFICATION OF KNOWLEDGE standardized for facilitating communicating IN ERP IMPLEMENTATION with other organization members. This leads to the creation of new explicit knowledge. Once In an ERP system implementation, there are new explicit knowledge has been created, it can usually three major parties involved the project be reconciled with other explicit knowledge implementation: the organization implementing created by other organizational members and the system (the implementer), the organization the knowledge is expressed in a format that it can developed the ERP system (vendor) and an be retained at organization. Once new explicit organization aiding the implementation (the con- knowledge has been created, the member inside sulting company). Each of these parties contri- organization can combine the new explicit know- butes different knowledge to the project. ledge with own intrinsic knowledge to produce new tacit knowledge. After new tacit knowledge is shared with other members inside organi- The Knowledge From the zation, the knowledge creation activity begins Consulting Company again. Knowledge creation therefore is viewed as a spiral growing process. ERP is not a simple software package. Although The KM in ERP implementation faces a num- there are detailed instructions in product man- ber of challenges: (1) the pivotal knowledge in ual, it is usually difficult to combine the function ERP implementation is possessed by software of software with organizational business. Hardly vendor and consultants. They will vanish soon any organization has the necessary knowledge after the ERP implementation is completed. How and skills to implement an ERP project success- can their knowledge be transferred into the fully without external help (Rubenstein et al., adopting organization? (2) In ERP implementa- 2001). An organization may expect consultants tion process, there exist a lot of knowledge gaps. to transfer their implementation knowledge to They include the gaps between external vendor, their employees so that they can contribute to Copyright ß 2006 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd. Syst. Res. 23,157^168 (2006) A Knowledge Management System for ERP Implementation 161
  6. RESEARCH PAPER Syst. Res. successful implementation and learn to maintain The Knowledge From Implementer the system independent of the consultants. Thus, bring consulting company into ERP imple- In generally, the knowledge of implementer mentation can improve the success rate of project consists of the inherent knowledge and the and avoid unnecessary mistakes. Generally, a innovative knowledge. The former mainly refers consulting company may possess abundant to the detailed knowledge of its own particular knowledge which includes an in-depth under- business processes, organizational context, cul- standing of the management idea related to ture and competitive situation, which is essential ERP, insights into business process incorporated for successful implementation. The later mainly in the basic architecture of the ERP soft- refers to the experience, know-how produced ware, the expertise of BPR, the approach of by discussion, communication, and practice in project implementation, and the accumulative implementation process. The externalization of experience by providing services to other organi- the innovative knowledge, namely conversion of zations. A consulting company can help organi- individual knowledge to organization knowl- zation employees learn more know-how about edge, can promote knowledge sharing and pro- ERP implementation that is not included in ject implementation. standard training provided by ERP vendor. In addition to above-mentioned three kinds Additionally, the practical experience of the of knowledge, document management is also consulting company can help project member an important task of knowledge management. to save time and increase implementation effi- These documents include: (1) the operation man- ciency. ual of ERP and systems management; (2) Educa- tion/training documents provided by the vendor and consulting company; (3) Detailed documents The Knowledge From the Vendor regarding implementation process; (4) Complete records of business process before implementa- The main roles that ERP vendor plays in ERP tion, the standard business process of ERP system implementation include: (1) providing the imple- and their difference; (5) Complete records of BPR; menter with ERP software and documents; (6) Complete records of business process after ERP (2) offering standard education/training pro- implementation, and the like. The management for grams in connection with their products, includ- these documents facilitates communication, lean- ing the function of software, modules, business ing and practice. process, operation approaches and so on; (3) In terms of the model proposed by Kwon cooperating with consulting companies to imple- and Zmud, ERP implementation process can be ment ERP. On the one hand, ERP implemen- divided into six stages: initiation, adoption, tation requires mass knowledge to enable adaptation, acceptance, routinization and infu- employees to solve problems within the frame- sion. In order to manage the knowledge of work of system. If employees do not understand ERP implementation effectively, it is necessary how a system works, they will not be able to use to analyse the main KM activities of each the system correctly. On the other hand, educa- stage. To accomplish this, Table 1 summarizes tion/training is a learning process. It is impos- the KM practices in ERP implementation sible for employees to master all necessary process. knowledge in education/training. Employees need time to learn in practice. Therefore, the knowledge from the vendor, especially standard A KNOWLEDGE MANAGEMENT education/training knowledge should be collec- SYSTEM FOR ERP IMPLEMENTATION ted, stored consciously and open to all employees inside organization. Managing vendor knowledge Knowledge management systems (KMS) refer to can provide users with convenience for learning a class of information systems applied to mana- and reducing education/training costs. ging organizational knowledge. That is, they Copyright ß 2006 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd. Syst. Res. 23,157^168 (2006) 162 Yuan Li et al.
  7. Syst. Res. RESEARCH PAPER Table 1. Summary of KM activities in ERP implementation process Stage KM activities Initiation (1) Vendor provides ERP software and document. Adoption (2) Vendor offers training programs in connection with their products. Explicit knowledge (know-what) could be captured from user manual and training document. (3) Learn the experience of other organizations. (4) Carry out investment decision and cost–benefit analysis related to ERP implementation and select appropriate vendor Adaptation (1) Analyse the differences of business process between standard ERP and implementer. Acceptance (2) New process knowledge is captured and new management idea is brought into organization. (3) Carry out knowledge transfer from vendor, consulting company to project team and from project term to end-users. (4) The training is offered to end-users. Users should learn the knowledge about ERP system and master operation process. (5) Learning by using. Routinization (1) Knowledge accumulation. Fusion (2) Knowledge sharing. (3) Knowledge creation. (4) The application of new KM tools (KDD). are IT-based systems developed to support and Cooperative Working Platform enhance the organizational processes of knowl- edge creation, storage/retrieval, transfer, and The cooperative working platform consists of application (Alavi and Leidner, 2001). During communication module and document manage- ERP implementation, there exist vast amount ment module. The first module provides a of knowledge. The knowledge resides in employ- vehicle to generate knowledge across entire ees, organization resources and external partner- ERP implementation process. It provides infor- ship (the vendor and the consulting company). mal setting where participants ask questions of Therefore, a knowledge management system other participants. Participants post questions should ensure that the explicit and tacit knowl- and hope that some other participants will know edge of external partnership can transfer into the answer or where a solution can be found. In the adopting organization, the knowledge of addition, participants may inform the actions employees can flow freely inside organization, they took and ask if anyone knows what went and the knowledge created during ERP imple- wrong (O’Leary, 2002). The advantage of such a mentation can be captured and distributed. In module is that it can accommodate specific this section, a KM system for ERP implementa- questions. The responses are to the point and tion is proposed (see Figure 3). This system timely. In some cases, participants provide a consists of cooperative working platform, con- personal e-mail address for responses, which can sulting platform, individual KM platform, orga- allow a dialogue between the asker and the nizational KM platform, and knowledge transfer respondent. Besides, corporate directories may platform (see Figure 4). This integrated KM also enable individuals to rapidly locate the system of ERP implementation is expected to individual who has the knowledge that might offer significant potential for improvement in help them solve a current problem. The main ERP implementation support. The main func- object of this module is to create a channel for the tions of the five platforms are described as sharing and exchange of knowledge gained follows: through experience and increasing familiarity Copyright ß 2006 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd. Syst. Res. 23,157^168 (2006) A Knowledge Management System for ERP Implementation 163
  8. 164 RESEARCH PAPER Cooperative working platform Individual KM platform Communication module Document management Organization KM platform module including all kinds Learning by Insight and (1) E-mail of documents associated using understanding (2) Virtual communities with ERP implementation (3) BBS process. Classify Experience of …… other Capture organizations Copyright ß 2006 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd. Other sources Consulting platform Consulting Education/ training documents Make knowledge Make knowledge explicit explicit Knowledge transfer platform Distribute The accumulative process Approve Organizational Individual of knowledge knowledge/document base knowledge/document base Knowledge learning/application Add delete modify retrieve Add delete modify retrieve Just in time learning Figure 3. A KM system in ERP implementation Syst. Res. Syst. Res. 23,157^168 (2006) Yuan Li et al.
  9. Syst. Res. RESEARCH PAPER Cooperative Working Platform Individual Organizational KM Consulting Platform KM Platform Platform Knowledge Transfer Platform Figure 4. The platform structure of the knowledge management system with the ERP system. The second module mainly documents, process design documents, systems manages all kinds of documents associated with configuration, communication module, consult- ERP implementation process, including much of ing, etc. The tacit part is those skills and know- the information such as business knowledge, how regarding how to operate the ERP system. It detail implementation plan, the entire records of can be transferred from consultants to project business process change, project advancement, members and then transferred to the employees and the like. All these documents will be classi- in the organization. All too often, the employees fied and entered automatically into the organiza- are expected to be able to effectively use the new tional knowledge/document base. However, not system based only on education/training. How- all questions are answered or not all questions ever, much of the learning process comes from are answered in a timely manner in this platform. hands-on use under normal operating condi- In addition, the same question can be asked tions. Therefore,they can gain insight and under- again and again and the quality of the answers standing through contacting, learning, and using can not be guaranteed. Therefore, the organiza- ERP system in practice. In addition, individual tion can have personnel in charge of monitoring can also gain tacit knowledge from the consul- and tracking questions and sending feed back to tants and other employees. For example, when a consultants. The consultants will respond hard consultant for implementing ERP works with questions. end-users, if an end-user has an idea and the consultant listens to the idea, in some cases, providing suggestion and instruction. After Individual KM Platform all these kinds of knowledge are captured, the idea of KM helps each employee to convert Individual KM platform provides technology various kinds of tacit knowledge into explicit support for the KM activities of each employee knowledge, and store in individual knowledge/ in the organization. Its main functions are the document base. Furthermore, with the effect of construction, renewal and replenishment of indi- incentive mechanism and organization culture, the vidual knowledge/document base. One of the individual knowledge can be converted into most important processes to establish individual organization-available knowledge (see Figure 5). KM platform is to capture knowledge. Capturing knowledge refers to determining what informa- tion and knowledge should be added to the sys- Organizational KM Platform tem. During ERP implementation process, two parts of knowledge are captured: explicit and Organization KM platform provides technology tacit. The explicit part is mainly related to know- support for the KM activities of the organization what and part of know how. It can be captured in ERP implementation. Its main functions are in several forms such as user manual, training the construction, renewal, and replenishment of Copyright ß 2006 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd. Syst. Res. 23,157^168 (2006) A Knowledge Management System for ERP Implementation 165
  10. RESEARCH PAPER Syst. Res. Learning by using Communication and consulting Distribute Individual knowledge Individual Organizational knowledge base knowledge base Transfer Insight and Education/training understanding documents Figure 5. Individual knowledge platform organizational knowledge/document base. One Converting personal knowledge to group-avail- organization can be viewed as the set of many able knowledge is often viewed as one of the key ‘individuals’. Therefore, the knowledge captur- problems of knowledge management. The sec- ing in the organization depends on the knowl- ond process realizes the transfer from organiza- edge capturing from each individual. During tion knowledge to individual knowledge. In ERP implementation process, the organizational addition, the accumulative process of knowledge knowledge mainly comes from three parts. can also evaluate the contribution magnitude of The first part is all documents associated with individual knowledge to the organization know- ERP implementation. They include the operation ledge. The evaluation criteria include the number manual of ERP, systems management docu- of knowledge/documents submitted, the num- ments, education/training documents from the ber of knowledge/documents adopted, and the vendor and consulting companies, detailed value of knowledge/documents adopted. The implementation process documents, the com- main objective of this process is to encourage plete records of business process before imple- the knowledge sharing inside organization. In mentation, the standard business process of order to assure the quality of knowledge, strict ERP system and their difference, the complete examinations are carried out in this process. records of BPR, and the complete records of Only approved knowledge can enter organiza- business process after ERP. The second part is tional knowledge/document base. the experience of other organizations that have implemented ERP system. The last part is the knowledge transferred from individual knowl- Consulting Platform edge/document base (see Figure 5). The consulting platform consists of two modules. The first module mainly manages all kinds of Knowledge Transfer Platform education/training documents associated with ERP implementation process, including user Knowledge transfer platform provides techno- manual, documents related to system configura- logy support for the knowledge transfer between tion and main functional modules. The second individuals and the organization. It includes module mainly provides timely consulting for the accumulative process of knowledge and all employees in the organization. In general, knowledge learning/application process. The the consulting platform contributes to the ERP first process realizes the transfer from indivi- implementation in following two stages: (1) the dual knowledge to organization knowledge. education/training stage; (2) the running and Copyright ß 2006 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd. Syst. Res. 23,157^168 (2006) 166 Yuan Li et al.
  11. Syst. Res. RESEARCH PAPER debugging stage of ERP software. At the first KM platform, organizational KM platform and stage, consultants transfer their explicit knowl- consulting platform. The interplay of these five edge to the employees of organization. Organiza- platforms can speed up the knowledge transfer tion, therefore acquires the manipulation and from both the vendor and consulting company to practice knowledge about ERP. At the second organization, stimulate knowledge sharing and stage, consultants transfer the skills of practical creation, and enhance organizational overall work to the employees of the organization. The ability to cope with changes. main objective of this platform is to facilitate explicit and tacit knowledge transfer of the vendor and the consulting company, and diffuse ‘best ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS practice’ incorporated in the basic architecture of the software into the adopting organization. This research was supported by NSFC (70121001; So far, we have discussed the main functions 70472039; 70571063). We are grateful to the of the five platforms. The five KM platforms are anonymous referees for their valuable comments. highly interdependent and intertwined. That is, each platform relies on, contributes to, and bene- REFERENCES fits from other platform. The interplay of the platforms can provide support for the successful Alavi M, Leidner D. 2001. Review: knowledge man- implementation of ERP. The integrated KM sys- agement and knowledge management systems: tem can offer organization the following three conceptual foundations and research issues. MIS major benefits: (1) help organization to capture, Quarterly 25(1): 107–136. Albert S, Baradley K. 1997. Managing knowledge-experts, organize, store, transfer, distribute, and use agencies, and organizations. Cambridge University the internal and external knowledge on ERP Press: Cambridge, MA. implementation; (2) make valuable knowledge Al-Mudimigh A, Al-Mashari M. 2001. ERP soft- of individual brain decompose, externalize ware implementation: an integrative framework. and accumulate into organization knowledge; European Journal of information Systems 10(4): 216– 226. (3) make all employees be able to share organi- Chaudhry S, Feng S, Li H, Li L, Sui H, Zhang J, zational knowledge in ERP implementation Zhang Z, Xu L. 2005. Production research in China. process. International Journal of Production Research 43(12): 2355–2358. Cliffe S. 1999. ERP implementation. Harvard Business Review 77: 16–17. CONCLUSION Dan B, Li L, Zhang X, Guo F, Zhou J. 2005. Network- integrated manufacturing systems. International Adopting ERP is not only a complex implemen- Journal of Production Research 43(12): 2631–2647. tation process of information system but also a Haines M, Goodhue D. 2003. Implementation partner process of knowledge creation, storage/retrieval, involvement and knowledge transfer in the context of ERP implementations. International Journal of transfer and application from knowledge man- Human-Computer Interaction 16(1): 23–38. agement perspectives. Extant studies show that He X. 2004. The ERP change in China: a resource- KM is associated with ERP implementation base perspective. Information Systems Journal 14: 153– intimately and can provide effective support for 167. the entire implementation process. Although Jarrar Y. 2002. Knowledge management: learning for organizational experience. Managerial Auditing Jour- the importance of knowledge management in nal 17(6): 322–328. ERP implementation has been recognized, most Ko D, Kirsch L, King W. 2005. Antecedents of knowl- organizations do not explicitly manage the edge transfer from consultants to clients in enter- knowledge created during ERP implementation prise system implementations. MIS Quarterly 29(1): process. In order to cope with this problem, in 59–85. Kumar V, Maheshwari B, Kumar U. 2003. An investi- this paper, an integrated KM system is proposed. gation of critical management issues in ERP imple- The system consists of cooperative working plat- mentation: empirical evidence from Canadian form, knowledge transfer platform, individual organization. Technovation 23: 793–807. Copyright ß 2006 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd. Syst. Res. 23,157^168 (2006) A Knowledge Management System for ERP Implementation 167
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