Foreword – ERP and Information Systems


This book written by Tarek Samara gives a relevant overview of the evolution and impact of enterprise resource planning (ERP) on information systems (IS). As he is both a professional ERP expert and a researcher, the author has a deep understanding of what is at stake nowadays in IS strategy. This book might be considered to address a paradox that has rarely been highlighted in the literature. First, it provides the readers with rich insights into the history of ERP and, going back to MRP, explains how the integration process was made possible by enterprise applications. Second, it shows how this evolution of ERP can sometimes eventually lead in itself to IS disintegration. The author does not only explore the paradox, but he also pinpoints the main factors affecting the relationships between the evolution of ERP systems and the integration or disintegration of the IS.

Thus, the author gives us a useful framework. The seven factors identified by the author are the influence of economic crisis and competitiveness on the level of IS investment, the arbitrage made by companies considering the dependency on the ERP vendor, the success or failure of the ERP project management, the interoperability of the ERP with other applications running in the IS, the choice made between two evolution strategies of existing systems (urbanization or total overhaul), the complexity level of ERP and the evolution strategy of ERP vendors such as the expansion scope of ERP perimeter. The author shows how all these factors are crucial and critical for IS management.

The outline of the book is the following. After an introduction, the first chapter describes the research terms. The second chapter deals with ERP trends. The third chapter explains the research question and methodology. The fourth chapter explores the literature review. The fifth chapter analyzes the relationships between these research factors. In the sixth chapter, the validity of the research question is verified due to three case studies. Chapters 7 and 8 are devoted, respectively, to a discussion (relationships between research factors and the evolution of ERP systems and IS) and research interests and limitations. Finally, a conclusion is given.

The contribution of the book is threefold. First, it offers a unique typology, which gathers all the different possible ERP evolution scenarios, and highlights their impacts on IS integration or disintegration. In this way, this book is an opportunity to take stock of the different available strategies to prevent the IS disintegration.

Second, the book takes into account the main challenges faced by chief information officers (CIOs) and gives us relevant clues to foster rational selection (and purchase) of an ERP package, and improves the success of its implementation. It is definitely a recent topic because of the growing pressure of ERP vendors on their clients, and of the general context of economic crisis that tends to kill a lot of innovative information technology (IT) projects.

Finally, the book’s key quality is to show that the future of ERP system evolution will not be a matter for vendors only. The book refers to the work of Freeman and raises the question of the stakeholders: firms, vendors, consultants, consultancy firms, etc. It is only by involving and taking into account all the stakeholders in the IS governance that solutions can be found. The author posits that stakeholders’ participation is a key point to engage enterprises in a positive IS evolution, and advocates such kinds of corporate policy.

For all these reasons, this book could be not only useful for researchers, teachers and students but also for practitioners and IT professional experts. Its content can provide fruitful insights to anyone who wants to know more about ERP issues and how to address them.

Philippe EYNAUD
August 2015