Tuesday, November 30, 2004

Screwing the sampling

I am selecting cases based on the group of companies I would like to generalize the results to. That might be oversampling. Maybe competencies don't change based on the company features. Gotta find that out.

Project management Competencies

-Look at the project management literature to understand what factors affect project management competencies.
- Company size?
- Measures related to project complexity?
- Different competencies by novices and experts?

By the way, do I need to do a background survey for this and how would I build/use this survey?

Monday, November 29, 2004

Project Manager Competencies

Assumption:Project management competencies needed in various phases of ERP implementations differ. How do I know that? I just do. Experience. Logic. It just is. So if I haven't run into literature that mentions this, can I just say that it's a gap in the literature, or do I have to strive to make my point?

Sunday, November 28, 2004

Some More Thoughts About My Research

Main Research Topic Revisited
In both cases it is about "The perceived skills needed for project managers for doing their jobs" Because there isn't much literature on what type of skills are needed for successful project managers. So I believe that perceived skills needed would be a good starting point. Then a future study would be based on linking those skills with organizational success. The reason why I am not attacking the question "project management skills needed to for ERP success" is because measuring success is very difficult when I have a meaningful definition for success.

Actually maybe it is not. I want to define ERP project success as;
1- Project completed on time. (The challenge is to identify whether a project is on time when the project scope is changed over time)
2- Project completed on budget. (Similarly budget may change over time)
3- Project quality (as some call it) or Customer Satisfaction or Project goals of return on investment, customer satisfaction, employee satisfaction, etc are achieved. (The problem with this is that the business must have initially identified the goals of the project as well as the timeline to achieve the goal. For example: employee reduction of 10% within 5 years, or Increase in Sales of 17% within 3 years after the implementation. If the goal isn't specified numerically and the timeline isn't mentioned, than at any point in time, it is impossible to identify whether a project is successful or not)
Okay, writing it down again changed my mind again. Yes, measuring success is difficult!!!

Options for Research Focus:
1- Look at project management skills before go-live and after go live, see how they change.
2- Just evaluate which skills are needed after go-live.
-This will be different based on the approach they chose: big bang implementation(implement all modules at the same time), phased implementation (one module at a time) or mini bing bang implementation (implement multiple modules at the same time but not all)
-Also whether some implementation is going on now (if they have chosen phased or mini big-bang implementations)
-How long it has been after go-live is also important.

What I Need To Do Research On:
1- Project management success in IT implementations- How is it measured.
2- How is ERP success defined/measured in ERP/ES studies.
3- Do Research On Case Study Method. (Order Yin's and Stake's Books)
4- Read on Grounded Theory (Glaser's books)
5- Research on definitions of ERP Success, ERP Implementation Success , and ERP Project Management Success. How are they different? How can we define and measure them seperately?

Saturday, November 27, 2004

Positivist or Interpretivist approach?

Research Question:
I am trying to understand the Project management success factors in the maintenance (or after go-live) phase of the ERP implementation.

Philosophical Approach:
I am still having trouble about selecting the right approach for my ERP study. Looks like Markus et. al. is totally against an interpretivist approach in evaluating ERP success in their article called "Learning from Adopters' Experiences with ERP: Problems Encountered and Success Achieved"

Some Issues:
Also some of the problems I am facing are related to defining and measuring ERP success.
Actually maybe defining success isn't difficult, I have a good idea about it from the literature. The problem is how to measure it really.

Another issue I am having is how to select the sample. Ideally one wants to select successful companies or companies who have project success. How to identify those is a real problem when success now isn't really a predictor of success later.

I Just Though Of Another Question:
So is project management success in ERP implementations different from ERP Success? Okay, so I need to define both project management success and ERP Success. Actually ERP success and ERP Implementation Success are different things. Geez..

Okay, regardless of the philosophical approach, let me think about the research method...Maybe, I need to have a longitudinal study. So if I take some companies and identify some success factors and project management related factors... And then measure them across time. It might work.

Okay, what is the downside of this method?
1) Well, all companies need to be still within the same phase during both measurements. Because different phases have different success factors. So if one company slips into another phase, then I will be in trouble.
2) What is really the d

Thursday, November 25, 2004

Literature Review

I am going through Gina Boff's dissertation called "Implementing an Enterprise Resource Planning System: What Differentiates the Corporations that Make it From Those That Do Not". The good thing is she made me aware of the Special Issue on: Critical Analyses of ERP Systems in the The DATABASE for Advances in Information Systems journal by D. Howcroft and D. Truex. The interesting issue is that she based her lit review on this special issue and a few other articles. She even said something along the lines of "This special issue doesn't cover ERP implementation, thus there's a gap in the literature on Implementation issues."

Wow, I don't know what else to say now. There's so much stuff out there about implementation issues, it's hard to miss.

She has a stronger methodology section though. I will keep on reading. But now I don't know what to believe and what not to believe among the things she said.

She said that qualitative researchers use wide variety of interpretative practices to get better understanding of the subject matter (Denzin and Lincoln, 2000) This more traditional, multi-method approach in qualitative inquiry is what is commonly referred to as Triangulation.

I thought Triangulation was something along the ways of using other resources or means to check your conclusion. I think it might be a method, it might be using literature, etc.

I asked this question to Kevin, here's his response:
"Yes, using multiple sources of evidence as a check on each other. It could be different data sources, but also different research approaches. Most people would restrict it to empirical evidence though, so not literature."

Wednesday, November 24, 2004

Maybe, its just a dream...

I was thinking about the failures inherent in Business Process Reengineering and Enterprise Resource Planning Implementations. When I was mentioning that BPR mostly failed in 90's, Romas had said "yes, because they didn't implement the technological systems that would support the change". I don't totally buy that although he has a point. I think it's more about difficulty of change, and organizational power dynamics, and difficulty (or unwillingness) of the human beings to learn and adapt quickly that cause these initiatives and others to fail.

On the other hand, Gina Boff suggests in her dissertation that companies implement ERP Systems in order to achieve competitive advantage. Think about it for a minute: How do you obtain competitive advantage by just doing something that is done by the rest of the industry?

But my main point, the a-ha moment I had, wasn't about these. I think there's an inherent copying of other businesses in order to be successful. For example Amazon or Southwest came up with a great business model, right? Why didn't their competitors, who just tried to copy their structure or technology or look failed? Because they missed something that these companeis were doing that was crucial for success. Thus it is crucial to understand ALL success elements and match them and even go beyond them by being open to changing business models, etc. I just think it's not for everybody.

So when we come to ERP implementations. Yes there were some companies who could reengineer their business processes and implement ERP and receive significant ROI. However, it's not for everyone. Some of the questions I would as are: How deep is your pocket? How flexible are your people? How forgiving are your customers?

Sunday, November 14, 2004

A Knowledge Transfer Dissertation in ERP Context

I just read a dissertation that I want to share with you.

Ko, D.-G. (2002). Determinants of Knowledge Transfer in Enterprise Resource Planning Implementation. Unpublished Dissertation, University of Pittsburgh, Pittsburgh.

Annotated Bibliography Entry:
In this study, Ko tried to identify the determinants of knowledge transfer in Enterprise Resource Planning implementation context. Ko concluded that individual characteristics such as source credibility, communication decoding competence, intrinsic motivation, along with characteristics of relationships (especially relationship quality) and knowledge observability are important predictors to the transfer of knowledge in the context of ERP implementation. Ko's model also finds that relationship quality is a mediator between the independent variables; source credibility, and communication decoding competence and the dependent variable knowledge transfer. Another significant finding is related to intrinsic versus extrinsic motivation: The study suggests that recipients must derive satisfaction in the work content itself to effectively transfer knowledge. The knowledge observability, for example ability to make a change in the system and observe it's implications in another part of the system also increase the knowledge transfer.

Future Research:
1) Improve this model of knowledge transfer among individuals.
- Task similarity appeared to influence knowledge transfer (Slaughter et al. Work in progress)
- Complexity of knowledge being transferred as well as the timing of the transfer and openness by the recipient (Argote, 1999)
- Whether geographical proximity or co-location facilitates knowledge transfer. (Epple, et al., 1996)
2) Identify factors that may determine the transfer of knowledge in the various stages of ERP implementation (Markus and Tanis 2000)
3) Examine a process model of consultant-client relationship. (Nonaka, 1994)
4) At what points do consultants leave and the implications associated with transfer of knowledge.