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Enterprise systems, business process management and UK-management accounting practices: Cross-sectional case studies

Sameh Ammar (Accounting and Information Systems Department, Qatar University, Doha, Qatar)

Qualitative Research in Accounting & Management

ISSN: 1176-6093

Article publication date: 7 August 2017



This paper aims to address the extant and arguable role of enterprise systems (ES) in relation to management accounting practices (MAPs) through an inclusion relative neglect account of business process management (BPM). This is also extended to draw out an analytical framework to advance our understanding of how BPM mediate ES-MAPs interplay.


A cross-sectional case study was adopted as a research strategy with which to collect data about the ES-BPM-MAPs interplay as a unit of analysis. The latter, in the first stage, was examined across (89) mini-case studies operating in the UK context through reports and documentations collected from cases’ websites, vendors and consultants of information systems. Drawn insights from cross-sectional analysis and contributions made by prior studies are blended together to inform the second stage that outlines an analytical framework for ES-BPM-MAPs interplay.


Different ES are mobilised to address different orientations of BPMs and being used for different managerial functions and purposes. Different patterns of ES-BPM-MAPs interplay are identified across (89) UK-case studies and the BPM is a fulcrum understanding. These patterns are centred around three key BPM including customer, logistics and control processes and all oriented by a continuum of an organisation intention focus on control, understanding and strategising. Both processes and orientations explain ES development and MAPs evolution processes. Standardisation, integration and intelligence are key characteristics sought through ES mobilisations. By complementary, information provision, analytics and simulation are three sophisticated ways of using MA information facilitated by ES characteristics.

Research limitations/implications

Dynamic processes of MAPs change over time and are beyond the reach of this study. Such approach requires full access to case studies. BPM is fulcrum understanding of MAPs change and/or stability in relation to ES implementation including other components.

Practical implications

Findings and analytical framework could be used as a base for establishing the best approach in adopting ES to fully exploit the potential of future ES applications as well as to avoid organisations pitfalls of implementations. Organisations are advised to understand their existing business processes, characteristics of MA information would be achieved first upon which decision of ES components selection and implementation could be outlined.


The indirect interplay between ES and MAPs through business processes is rarely examined. By the inclusion of BPM and using cross-sectional case studies, this research contributes to the existing shortcomings of ES-MAPs interplay by broadening the picture and proposing an analytical framework. The latter advances our understanding by focusing on attributes of ES-BPM-MAPs upon which informal changes in-the use of MAPs are recognised.



The author would thank both anonymous reviewers and Deryl Northcott, QRAM-editor, for valuable comments and suggestions. Early version of this paper was also benefited from John Burns and Stephen Jollands and thanks for their valuable comments and suggestions. Participants of Accounting and Information System department at Qatar University are also appreciated for their feedback.


Ammar, S. (2017), "Enterprise systems, business process management and UK-management accounting practices: Cross-sectional case studies", Qualitative Research in Accounting & Management, Vol. 14 No. 3, pp. 230-281.



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