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Moving With the Technology: ERP, Essay Example

Pages: 2

Words: 658

Essay

Jacobs’s and Whybark’s Why ERP? A Primer on SAP Implementation is a hybrid of instructional manual and fictional narrative.  The authors employ an ongoing and hypothetical business scenario as a framework for presenting how Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP), very much integrated with SAP technology, enables businesses to expand and function in innovative ways.  The narrative element in fact dominates, as the first section of the book tells the story of Billy Armbruster and his relationship with the McDougle Furniture Company of North Carolina.  Having returned from a vacation in which he was exposed to discussions of ERP and SAP implementation, Billy is essentially poised to reconsider how his employer functions.  McDougle’s is by no means obsolete; the company has long used a materials requirement planning (MRP) system for scheduling purchasing and production.  Nonetheless, there are serious issues, chiefly in meeting shipment times and in the organizational aspects creating the issues (Jacobs, Whybark 5-6).  The reader then follows Billy on his journey as a manager investing himself, and McDougle’s, in learning about and implementing SAP, and developing an ERP framework to guide the business.  The book is not a technical journal and does not go into extensive detail on programming; instead, the focus remains on how organizational considerations are fundamental to ERP, which in turn promotes the benefits of SAP.  Along the way, various and likely issues with integration of systems, efficiency measurements, and demo trial-and-error lead to a successful change in McDougle’s operations.  Billy’s journey ends with all concerned more than satisfied with the results of the efforts involved.

In plain terms, and as noted, that McDougle’s is facing serious problems goes to the motive to develop ERP within it.  Mr. McDougle, first of all, is behind the idea because his brother-in-law had mentioned it, which indicates that there is awareness of the problems at the highest level.  Then, the nature of the business, in creating customized, fine furniture for clients, goes to extended manufacturing times often not measurable.  Within the production processes, for example, designers alter plans and completion becomes difficult to determine, at best.  Connected to this is the tension between sales and manufacturing, in that McDougle’s functions with conflicting interests within it, and manufacturing is impatient with the late changes in design the sales force, eager to please the clients, would introduce (5-6).  Essentially, McDougle’s is turning to ERP because the company, its reputation and success notwithstanding, seems to be operating in a generally inefficient manner.

Regarding how the standardized or customized type of product determines the ERP system to be adopted, it is a matter of program complexity.  As noted, McDougle’s is all about creating custom furniture, and any system based on an elementary process of standard timing is wholly inadequate.  This goes to the crisis with the lost $20,000 desk Billy faces.  Consequently, the SAP R/3 system needed is that which integrates in its programming all relevant parties; “client,” in fact, is the most important integration within the system (47), providing a common core of potentially changing information going to the other components of sales, manufacturing, shipping, and billing.  As Billy learns in the ERP seminars, flexibility is crucial in customized manufacture, and an axis is created in which degree of flexibility is accommodated, for reacting to client changes and for centralizing decision-making (81). Manufacturing and sales add input, and data entry discipline is essential for the system to work, but the variables of customization are in this way addressed as they occur.  Billy comes to understand that adding software to McDougle’s existing MRP systems will be self-defeating, because flexibility must be the axis of the operational processes, and the MRP does not provide this.  Consequently, the ERP/SAP implementation translates to McDougle’s being enabled to tailor programs to its very specific and complex needs, whereas a standardized manufacturing business could adopt a more simple ERP system.

Works Cited

Jacobs, F. Robert, & Whybark.  Why ERP? A Primer on SAP Implementation. New York, NY:   McGraw-Hill, 2000.  Print.

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