Business process integrity and enterprise resource planning systems : an analysis of workaround practices in a large public sector organisation

Edwards, Craig Alan (2013-03)

Thesis (MPhil)--Stellenbosch University, 2013.

Thesis

ENGLISH ABSTRACT: Information Technology (IT) artefacts, such as Enterprise Resource Planning systems (ERPs), promise much with regard to meeting the requirements of organisations. In the knowledge economy, organisations require real time data, information flow and integration of business processes to remain financially viable and competitive. However, organisations often fail to harness ERP systems effectively. This thesis attempts to unpack a section of the complex nature of ERPs with emphasis on the post-adoption phase of the systems’ development life cycle. This study explores the complex interface between rigid IT artefacts like ERPs and the, often unpredictable, reality of organisational work processes. Focus falls, in particular, on the workaround practices that end users of the system perform and the effects these have on the integrity of the business process. Based on an extensive literature review, an integrated framework for business process integrity is developed and formulated. This model is applied to the analysis of a qualitative data set compiled during an empirical investigation of a large Local Government Organisation utilising a proprietary ERP product. The data set includes semi-structured interviews with members of the ERP user community relating to their handling of impositions or deficiencies experienced when using the artefact. To define the relationship between business process integrity and workaround practices, each workaround identified is individually analysed to determine the reasons and outcomes that are associated with its enactment. Results indicate that workaround practices have diverse impacts on the various dimensions of business process integrity. While, in certain scenarios, they pose serious threats to organisational performance, they also play a particularly important role in enhancing the organisation’s ability to handle non-standard business cases. Despite their informal and often covert nature, workaround practices are at the heart of the balance between control and flexibility in organisations and their existence suggests that, contrary to common beliefs, ERPs only have limited agency in determining organisational workflow.

AFRIKAANSE OPSOMMING: Inligtingstegnologie (IT) artefakte, soos ondernemingshulpbronbeplanningstelses (OHBs), beloof baie ten einde aan organisasies se vereistes te voldoen. In die kennis-ekonomie vereis organisasies regstreekse data, inligtingsvloei en integrasie van besigheidprosesse om finansieel lewensvatbaar en kompeterend te bly. Dikwels faal organisasies egter om OHB stelsels effektief te benut. Hierdie tesis poog om ʼn deel van die ingewikkelde aard van OHBs te ontleed, met klem op die postaanvaardingsfase in die stelsels se lewensiklus. Hierdie studie ondersoek die ingewikkelde koppelvlak tussen rigiede IT artefakte soos OHBs en die dikwels onvoorspelbare realiteit van organisatoriese werk prosesse. Die klem val in besonder op die alternatiewe praktyke wat eindgebruikers van die stelsel gebruik, en die uitwerking wat hierdie praktyke op die integriteit van die besigheidsproses het. Gegrond op ʼn uitgebreide literatuurstudie, is ʼn geïntegreerde raamwerk vir besigheidsprosesintegriteit ontwikkel en geformuleer. Hierdie model is toegepas op die ontleding van ʼn kwalitatiewe datastel wat saamgestel is tydens ʼn empiriese ondersoek van ʼn Plaaslike Regeringsorganisasie wat ʼn privaat patent OHB-produk gebruik. Die datastel sluit semigestruktureerde onderhoude in wat met lede van die OHB gebruikersgemeenskap gevoer is met betrekking tot hul hantering van opleggings of tekortkominge wat tydens die gebruik van die artefakte ondervind word. Om die verhouding tussen besigheidsprosesintegriteit en die toepassing van omweë te definieer, is elke geïdentifiseerde alternatief individueel ontleed om sodoende die redes en uitkomste wat met die uitvoer daarvan geassosieer word, te bepaal. Resultate dui aan dat alternatiewe gebruike diverse uitwerkings op die verskillende dimensies van besigheidsprosesintegriteit het. Terwyl, in sommige gevalle, dit ernstige bedreigings vir organisatoriese prestasie inhou, speel dit ook ʼn besonder belangrike rol in die verbetering van die organisasie se nie-standaard bedryfsake. Ten spyte van hul informele en dikwels verborge aard, is alternatiewe gebruike die hart van die balans tussen beheer en buigsaamheid in organisasies, en hul bestaan dui daarop dat, in teendeel met algemene oortuigings, OHBs net beperkte werking het met betrekking tot die bepaling van organisatoriese werksvloei.

Please refer to this item in SUNScholar by using the following persistent URL: http://hdl.handle.net/10019.1/79845
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