Last homework file was on packaged food processing. I have attached the file here.
Read the assignment carefully before you form your solution. This is an exercise that requires that you think and write concisely. You will need to research this assignment on the internet. Proofread the writing for any errors before the submission. At the end of the homework description are questions that students have asked in the past, these may help you as you think through what you need to research.
Staying with either the furniture manufacturer or the packaged food processing that you started with in the first homework, let’s imagine that your uncle’s business is very successful, with both sales to local outlets and their own storefront. You continue to run the internet side of the business.
Your aunt manages all aspects of the book-keeping manually, accounting, taxes, payroll, managing receipts, paying the bills, health and safety documentation etc. Your aunt has gotten behind on several aspects of her work due to the growth of the business.
Your uncle is often overwhelmed with getting the correct products and services organized to manage production effectively.
You think that implementing an ERP software package might be beneficial, so answer these questions to help you think through what that might look like. You might want to look at a couple of different alternative ERP packages.
Answer the following questions ( one paragraph per question, 11pt font minimum, single spaced).
- What type of products are you making and selling. How complex are they, in terms of materials used too make them, and configurations they are sold in. For example, if furniture, how many different woods are used (can I buy a sofa with oak, maple, and cherry ), how many different fabrics, how many styles of arms, legs, etc. How many different combinations of each item are sold? If you are making packaged foods, how many choices of pizza topping, or meatball sauces, or types of canned beans, etc.
- What types of manufacturing processes do you use, are they similar or very different from each other? In addition to the materials used that will be in the finished product, what other supplies and materials are required to make the finished products.
- What are the primary issues your company has in running effectively? Estimate in dollars what you think these inefficiencies cost you per year.
- Of the issues that you have identified, rank them in cost order, and identify which ones the ERP software would help you solve.
- Pick the two issues that you think have the greatest benefit to your company in solving, and write one paragraph describing exactly how the ERP software would help to solve the problem.
- Pick a specific ERP package that fits your business well. How will you implement the software? What external resources will you use? Will you run it on your own hardware, in the cloud etc.? What do you estimate the one time costs, and the annualized costs will be?
This is an academic paper, so you must support your statements with references; pick about six, and cite and reference using either MLS or APA standards. At least one reference must be to a peer reviewed academic or trade journal. You may reference the ERP provider only to provide cost information, otherwise you should discount their claims, just like you would a used car salesman! Remember the academic policy on ethics, and plagiarism in particular. If you directly quote something offset it from the rest of the text, and ensure that you cite it. Better yet is to paraphrase just the key point, it saves a lot of space, but still remember to cite it.
1) What is a good way to find a Peer Reviewed academic/trade journal on a specific ERP (I assume we would need to be specific, since the assignment asks that we assume our uncle knows about them broadly)? I looked at that sentence in the assignment, and wasn’t really sure where to start looking for that kind of info (I googled it, just to see what would come up, and it gave me ads for ERPs and unrelated scholarly articles), and how it could be used to advocate for a specific ERP?
You have 3 choices here. I would start with Goggle Scholar, www.scholar.google.com (Links to an external site.), it is a useful search engine that will provide you many articles on a subject, coming from peer reviewed academic and practitioner journals. Alternatively you can use the search engines in the Mardigian Library, or thirdly call a librarian and ask for help. Make sure you are logged on through the universities VPN and the articles will be free, saving you about 20 bucks per paper.
2) I was also initially surprised by the number of references we need to try to shoot for. Other than for cost information, and the journal item in bullet 1) what kind of info would you expect us to reference? Reviews came to mind, but I wasn’t sure if that was the correct angle to be thinking? Or would I want to stick to 3rd party sites that aggregate and review ERPs?
Now for some guidance on academic writing. . . Every claim you make needs to be verified, otherwise it is just opinion. If you say that ERP implementation costs are around $125K, we need to know where that figure came from, and how reliable is it? The better the quality of the reference the more believable your paper becomes. Analyst sites where there is an experienced reviewer can be helpful, but those that are just robot based mashups add nothing.
3) I was considering how to support my findings with specific examples/details, since I will not have used the software before hand. I could try to comb for details from 3rd party sites, and get examples from user reviews, but I’m not sure if that is what you are after here.
Remember the focus of the paper is on changed business practices, and much less on the specific software. You are limited to one paragraph per question, so focus on how the business process changes, and less on how the software works. The better your sources the more believable will be your position. Remember that the software company themself is a biased source of information, so make sure that your sources are truly knowledgeable, and truly independent.
4) What is the format for the paper?
The paper should be written in Word, you can either put the questions in a table, or just write paragraphs, in either cases put the citations in the paragraphs. You should target a page to a page and a half, not counting the references that you should put at the end.
5 )How can the cost be calculated?
The last two sections of chapter 7 in Concepts in ERP give you a good general introduction to implementation issues and costs, but I expect you to go further than this with your research. You should be able to use the experience of others to identify most costs. The cost of the software should be based on your assessment of how many people will use the software, how many modules (if modules are available) you need to purchase, and the costs quoted by the vendor.
6) How many alternatives do I need?
I would suggest 2 – 3 alternatives. You need to find a range of solutions that provide some variety of costs, so one alternative might be a premium product such as SAP, or MS Dynamics, another might be a mid-tier, solution, a third might be a low cost boutique software designed for your industry segment, or an open solution that you run on your own equipment. You could add variety by looking at SaaS vs. On-prem. The opportunities are almost endless. So at some level the answer is “It’s your business, how many do you feel comfortable with?”.
7 Are we just trying to convince the “uncle” to implement an ERP system ?
That is the primary purpose of answering the questions, to help you think through how you might explain this to your Aunt and Uncle. Firstly, have you convinced yourself that you understand his business, that you can see clear opportunities to improve the business processes, and what is the path to a return on investment?
8) Do I need to formally calculate ROI?
No, just some general indication, such as costs are $X, and the benefits of implementation are $Y/year.
9) Where does the aunt’s issues fit into is?
She may or may not. You may determine that hiring a part-time bookkeeper is cheaper, or you may feel that automating the accounting has other benefits. This is your choice, there is no automatic right or wrong answer.
10) Is there a specific list of ERPs that we should consider?
No, use the internet to look for what you think are good examples. Also look at analyst reviews, they may have some pointers to consider.
11) Can we ballpark estimate costs?
Yes, you really have no alternative. The only firm cost you will have is from the software package that you selected.
12) Do we have to cover all the areas of the company with the ERP?
No, this is your company, you recommend only the parts that you think make sense. Again there is no right or wrong answer, just what makes sense. You may want to recommend starting with one or two functional areas of operation, and expand to others in the future.
13) Should I write this formally, or informally?
You can use either style for this piece of work. I suggest that you use Job Titles or Role Descriptions rather than people’s names though, with the exception of yourself, and the Aunt and Uncle, as your jobs are already defined.
14) Can I use the textbook for references?
You may, but it will not indicate that you have shown a great deal of effort/initiative, so will not add to you research points in the rubric. If you have at least 6 other good references, then adding one or two from the textbook would be fine.
Here is the book link if needed: