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EXPLORING KNOWLEDGE INTEGRATION IN ERP PROJECT TEAMS Sue Newell Bentley College, USA Slide 2 Introduction Many IT projects do not meet cost, schedule & functionality targets Many more do not create the radical change that was intended Rather IT often reinforces the status quo (Orlikowski) Focus on problems of sharing & integrating distributed knowledge Slide 3 ERP Projects Standard software & vanilla implementations Change organization to fit software Many organizations therefore start ERP implementation with a business process reengineering phase Slide 4 Project Team Must map as is processes, identify processes embedded in software, & define new organizational processes that fit Process analysis & redesign fundamental to achieving transformational potential Slide 5 Reality Many firms do not achieve this transformational potential from their ERP implementations! Critical success factors have been identified Ability to integrate distributed knowledge not considered Slide 6 Knowledge Integration The process whereby several individuals combine their information to create new knowledge (Okhuysen & Eisenhardt) Oversimplifies complex process of sharing knowledge knowledge is distributed & ambiguous Slide 7 Knowledge Integration - Distributed STRUCTURAL BARRIERS Slide 8 Knowledge Integration - Ambiguity We play football!! COGNTIVE BARRIERS Slide 9 Knowledge is hoarded RELATIONAL BARRIERS Slide 10 Knowledge Integration Understanding knowledge as socially constructed & arising through interaction & dialogue means - Teams will achieve greater or lesser success in their ability to integrate knowledge Slide 11 Different levels of knowledge integration Mechanistic pooling Generative knowledge integration Slide 12 Achieving High Levels of Knowledge Integration Depends on project team Intellectual and Social capital (Nahapiet & Ghoshal) Social capital/networking: bridging (Burt) vs. bonding (Coleman) views (Adler & Kwon) Slide 13 Social Capital - Bonding Slide 14 Social Capital - Bridging Slide 15 Research Explore level of knowledge integration achieved in two project teams tasked with implementing a functional pillar of an ERP system in two companies Specifically focus on networking of teams in pursuit of sharing & integrating knowledge Slide 16 Methodology Case study methodology 2 companies QEL and IEL First interviews (14/25) and follow- up interviews (7/12) Informal interviews, observations, documentation Slide 17 Cases Both large, multi-national, engineering companies Both decided to implement ERP systems in 1998 QEL Project not completed IEL System implemented and well-received Slide 18 Differences between the two project teams Emphasis on team building The way the project was divided up The allocation of specialists to workpackage areas The inclusion of different opinions from the process mapping stage The involvement of the IT consultants The understanding of ERP functionality The involvement of users Slide 19 Impact on Social Capital/Networking Bonding IEL team bonding seen as crucial QEL team operated independently Bridging IEL team spent considerable effort accessing distributed knowledge QEL team made very little effort to access distributed knowledge Slide 20 Successful Knowledge Integration Slide 21 Discussion and Conclusions Knowledge integration is a central activity within an ERP implementation Social networking (bonding and bridging) influences these processes of knowledge integration Management and organization of project influences this social networking Transformational potential of IT requires generative knowledge integration (vs. mechanistic pooling) Slide 22 Managerial Implications Team Building Division of tasks Allocation of team members Encouraging wide information search during process mapping stage Engaging hybrid IT consultants Involving users Slide 23 Next Steps Longitudinal study to explore subsequent improvisation with system Track differences between piecemeal (mechanistic) and concerted (generative) approaches (Robey et al)