Emerald Group Publishing Limited
Copyright © 2006, Emerald Group Publishing Limited
I would like to extend a warm welcome to our readers and thank them for their continued support during past years. The year 2005 represented yet another period of growth for the Journal of Enterprise Information Management (JEIM). The continuous update of the journals’ scope to promote theory and practice of information technology (IT) and information systems (IS) has lead to an increase in submissions and more importantly, quality of submissions. Notwithstanding, JEIM continues to identify “best” papers from leading conferences.
In-line with seeking innovative ideas and views from Editorial Board Members, Dr Constantinos J. Stefanou offers a viewpoint on the research opportunities in the complex areas of the transactional accounting information systems (AIS). Technological innovations have a great impact upon accountants and managers’ education, profession, and roles. Still, the author claims, despite technological advances, there has been no real re-engineering of the rigid internal structure of traditional accounting system, with its efficiency and effectiveness being constantly questioned. The emergence, mainly in the last 15 years, of such a phenomena as down/rightsizing, IT outsourcing, network-enterprises, electronic data interchange, electronic commerce, and the rise of end-user computing and wide enterprise systems, provide another source of complexity, which provoked serious considerations regarding the future shape of business and accounting systems and applications. Business practices such as supply chain management (SCM) and business process re-engineering (BPR), arising from a shift of focus on customers’ demands, are largely facilitated or induced by current IT innovations. These technological innovations and business trends are of paramount importance in the context of AIS. They have the potential of revolutionising deep organisational structures. The reason for this is that traditional procedures followed by AIS are no longer effective and efficient in the new operational environment. For example, established costing techniques are mainly product but not process oriented, a crucial issue under BPR, and the accounting/management control systems supporting these costing techniques have been built upon the assumptions of traditional accounting theory, allowing little or not at all adjustments. Therefore, if these systems have to justify their function, they must be evaluated, implemented, operated and even re-defined or “re-engineered” in the light of the new developments. This presents an interesting, fruitful and useful for enterprises and society field for research.
The first issue of 2006 starts off with Wieder et al. explaining that information technology has brought about many changes in the recent decades. In the 1990s, companies started purchasing enterprise resource planning (ERP) systems, which are characterised by the integration of several business functions in a central real time system. Bernard Wieder et al. provide insights into the adoption of enterprise resources planning systems and their impact on organisational performance. Their contribution aims at challenging existing claims of ERP vendors with regards to the benefits of their products and at providing evidence of the advantages of bundling EPR with SCM. The study contradicts the claims of ERP vendors as the authors did not find significant performance differences between ERP adopters and non-adopters, either at the business process or the overall firm level. The papers sheds light into the relationship between ERP, SCM and performance which might encourage both researchers and practitioners in the field to critically reflect on the “optimal” mix of modules and software packages within increasing diverse forms of enterprise systems.
While much has been written about problems of implementations of ERP systems developed by large Western vendors such as SAP, Oracle and J.D. Edwards there has been relatively little research on the strategies and technological capabilities of “latecomer” vendors in the ERP market in the important East Asian region. Chun-Tsai Yeh, Marcela Miozo and Theo Vurdubakis take us to the Far East, and explore how perceptions of ERP system-requirement misfit in Taiwan, and have been construed in as business opportunities by domestic vendors in their response to competitive vendors from international vendors. In comparison with the Western ERP providers, Taiwan’s domestic ERP vendors are likely to have limited global market experience and cutting edge software technologies. Nonetheless, the authors point out that there are areas in which Taiwan’s domestic EPR vendors perceive themselves as having a competitive advantage over foreign vendors in four areas:
ability to meet special requirements;
ability to support the flexibility and the speed of domestic SMEs; and
benefits of direct implementation; and
the ability to learn from their engagement with local customers.
The study leverages our understanding of the development of technological capabilities of firms in services in the important Eastern Asia region.
Then, Rom and Rohde highlight that management accounting techniques have been developed alongside developments in information systems. Their paper contributes to the body of knowledge about to what extent integrated information system (IIS) such as ERP and strategic enterprise management (SEM) affect the ability to solve different management accounting tasks. The Danish study of 349 survey response indicates that ERP and SEM systems appear as complementary systems. ERP systems seems to be the primary enablers of change in data collection and organisational breadth of accounting, while SEM systems seem to have the lead in reporting and analysis, budgeting, non-financial, external and ad-hoc management account and allocation of costs. The presented study shows that the distinction between EPR and SEM systems is of major importance, as they represent different systems for different management accounting tasks.
The emergence of enterprise systems (ES) or ERPS has signified a new era for business and appears to offer distinct advantages compared to conventional accounting information systems. Dr Spathis provides empirical evidence, via a questionnaire, regarding the perceived benefits derived from adopting enterprise systems but also, to comprehend the underlying causes that motivate their adoption. The paper presents a survey of 73 Greek companies that implemented ES and confirm a number of benefits derived from the application of ES that focus on the dimensions of organisation, operations, management and IT infrastructure. The results confirm that the benefits derived from companies that have proceeded with ES have fulfilled expectations but that there are many challenge which are related to technical, financial as well as other “milder factors” such as employee resistance to change and organisational structure.
The impact of IT/IS affects the future demand for accountants expertise. A key argument is that the literature suggests new advances in IT are likely to result in standardisation and commodification and knowledge and expertise and be bundled and commodified in particular packages. The fifth paper by Heba El Sayed argues that for a different articulation of accountant’s expertise in relation to information and communication technologies (ICTs). This articulation focuses on the mechanisms and dynamics of “expertise constitution” where it is understood as an “accomplishment” or an “achievement”. Such understanding appears to be an important step in studying the interrelation of accountants and ICTs, while avoiding traditional de-skilling or empowering accounts of technologies. The data presented in the paper is based on a longitudinal case study conducted in a large company in Egypt. The case shows no withering away of expertise in relations to ERP, rather, some accountants advance their careers by promoting themselves as experts in deriving benefits from such systems.
The last two papers extending our view of enterprise systems and their use. The first presented by Steve G. Sutton shifts our attention to the extended-enterprise systems’ impact on enterprise risk management. The rash of corporate scandals has raised concerns across the globe as to the adequacy of corporate governance practices. As the author indicates, enterprises rapidly work to address corporate governance concerns, and this is beginning to cause tension with the contemporary focus on outsourcing non-core competencies and the resulting dependencies on partner organisations. As we are aware though, ES implementations have allowed organisations to more tightly couple their operation with other business partners, particularly in the area of SCM. In this process, ES redefine the boundaries of the entity in terms of risk management. The focus of this article is to raise awareness for the ‘need’ to shift from a traditional enterprise-centric views of enterprise risk management that ignore the risks, which are inherited from key business and supply chain partners to an extended-enterprise risk management view.
The last paper of this issue comes from Stefanou and Revanoglou, who investigate the integrated clinical and administrative processes implemented by using SAP R/3 software in a hospital. The research is based on a case study involving in-depth, semi-structured interviews with key hospital stakeholders and field/action research conducted in the hospital during the ERP implementation period. In particular, the paper aims at the following: first, to provide a classification of the ERP integration concept in a healthcare organization. Secondly, to present an example of process integration and examine whether integrated Materials Management (MM) subsystem and Hospital Industry Solution (IS-H) of SAP R/3 have improved the execution of everyday transactions and administrative functions and more specifically the efficiency and effectiveness of the recently implemented computerised order entry (COE) system. Findings suggest that an apparently simple software implementation of an ordering process can have a considerable impact on stakeholders in a complex environment operating ERP software. Organizational change issues, implementation problems and benefits of the newly implemented integrated process are identified. Integration issues of the SAP R/3 software package with other non-SAP software systems and SCM considerations are also discussed.
With contributions from Egypt, Denmark, Australia, England, Greece and North America, we are delighted to present issue 1 of 2006 to be a truly global issue of the Journal of Enterprise Information Management, which we hope you enjoy reading.
On a final note, I would like to extend a special note of appreciation to Omiros D Sarikas, who played a major role in arranging the review of the papers accepted in this issue.
Zahir Irani, Omiros D. Sarikas