To accomplish research objectives, the mixed method approach to research will be used. Both qualitative and quantitative data will be instrumental in investigating and analyzing the opportunities and challenges of implementing ERP solution projects in SMBs. Data will be obtained from primary and secondary data, such as books and scholarly articles about theories and models in ERP planning and implementation, and the findings or outcomes of integrating ERP in SMBs in actual situations from other studies.
Key individuals from performing, including ERP solutions integrators, and receiving organizations, such as CEOs in receiving organizations, will also be interviewed to gain qualitative data that will address the research goals. The field study approach will be applied to obtain qualitative and quantitative data. The analysis of the qualitative and quantitative data that will follow the contrastive approach.
The number of studies that look into the actual outcomes of ERP solutions is limited and the contrastive approach to analyzing data and perceived outcomes of the study will contribute to empirical knowledge regarding the actual or practical situations that take place when implementing ERP solution projects in running and managing SMBs. The succeeding discussions will provide details on the methods and approaches that will be applied to fulfill the objectives of the research.
Research Design Field Study ApproachThe field study approach of qualitative and quantitative research will be used at different stages in the study to gather data and determine the opportunities and challenges of implementing ERP solution projects in SMBs. Scholars emphasized the value of a field study design in a theory-oriented research. Schwab (2005, p. 85) noted that the field study approach is instrumental in testing theories or models. “Field studies “are frequently used to test conceptual models with a number of independent variables” (Schwab, 2005, p. 85).
One primary objective of the study is to compare and contrast theories in ERP and its integration to SMB business functions and processes to actual practices and outcomes experienced by performing and receiving organizations. The field study approach will be utilized gain qualitative and quantitative data from independent variables that will consist of participants from performing and receiving organizations. The data obtained from the field study will be tested against theories and models discussed in the Literature Review.
The field study approach enables the researcher to understand a phenomenon within the actual context or environment in which it occurs through direct observation or interaction with the target population. The purpose of the field study approach is aligned with the objectives of the research. The lack of existing literature is one reason that prompted the study. Gaining practical data from performing and receiving organizations through the field study approach will validate and evaluate the reliability of existing literature about the process and outcomes of ERP implementation in SMBs.
Qualitative data will be obtained by conducting interviews with receiving and performing organizations. The number of participants from receiving and performing organizations will be equally divided. Five participants from receiving organizations (CEOs, CIOs, and IT managers) and five participants from performing organizations (project managers or ERP solutions integrators) will be selected as the sample population based on the availability of the participants. The formal interviews will be guided by specific themes that are aligned with the objectives of the study to address research questions.
The formal interview with participants from performing organizations, including ERP solutions integrators or project managers will focus on three key areas: project controlling, project monitoring, and risk management. The interview questions will be designed to draw the practices or strategies implemented by the participants in order to control or monitor ERP projects in SMBs and techniques in risk management to prevent or address potential risks accordingly. The perceived outcomes of project managers and ERP solutions integrators will also be determined and evaluated based on the actual outcomes of ERP projects in SMBs.
The quantitative data will also be obtained from performing organizations. The success of project planning, management and implementation of ERP project integrators may be determined by evaluating the various areas in ERP implementation. The project plans that were completed will be the primary source for quantitative data. The project plans and the actual outcomes of implementation will be evaluated to determine how successful ERP integrators were in accomplishing project plans for client SMBs.
Information from receiving organizations will also be instrumental in validating the success of ERP project solutions and in determining the opportunities and challenges that commonly occur during the implementation process. The formal interviews with participants from the receiving organizations will focus on four areas: change management opportunities upon implementation of ERP projects, the challenges that arise during ERP implementation, the quality of the implemented solution or its alignment to the goals of the receiving organization, and the satisfaction of the receiving organization throughout the project life span.
The responses from the receiving organizations will determine whether ERP project solutions implemented by performing organizations opened up opportunities for growth and development in the former and identify accompanying challenges in ERP implementation that other SMBs should be prepared for when adopting ERP in business operations. The primary data will be obtained through the field study approach.
The secondary data that will primarily be used in writing the Literature Review will be obtained from the Body of Knowledge PMI, Prince2 Body of Knowledge, and professional journal works. The various theories and models in ERP implementation and how the process is integrated to SMB business practices will be the focus of research to obtained secondary data. The PMI and Prince2 will serve as the basis or standard of evaluating the efficiency and success of ERP project plans implemented in receiving organizations.