The Relation of Shadow Systems and ERP Systems—Insights from a Multiple-Case Study
2. The Challenge of Integrating Shadow Systems into ERP Systems
2.1. Literature on ERP Systems and Shadow Systems
2.2. The Dependency of IT Systems in Context of Integration
2.3. Problem Statement
3. Research Method
|Case A||Case B||Case C|
|No. of Employees||1300||47,500||5500|
|Analyzed Processes/Departments||Benefits Statements: Private and Corporate Clients||Order Management of a Manufacturing Unit (Sales to Shipment)||Corporate Marketing|
|Interview Partners in|
4.1. Dependency Stages of Shadow Systems and ERP Systems in the Case Studies
- System A: In Case B, in the team of order processing of special products, we found a Microsoft Access application on an SQL (Structured Query Language) database to create offers for special products. It is associated with another shadow system for technical calculations and a database for orders. The creation of offers is a core functionality of the existing ERP system. Furthermore, the saved data is core data of the ERP system. Because the shadow system shares all its data with the ERP system and the ERP system can provide all the functionalities of the shadow system, we classify these systems as dependent.
- System B: In Case B, in the teams of quality management and spare part processing, the employees used an online portal for retrieving product information. The data are stored as pdf documents. Additionally, the system provides an authorization scheme to distinguish between different roles that have access to different documents. Product information, as well as authorization schemes, are core parts of the formal ERP system. Therefore, this shadow system belongs to this category.
- System C: In Case C, in the team of trade fairs and events, we found a small web based tool for inventory control that only one warehouseman uses. Inventory control is a core functionality of the ERP system as well as the storage of inventory data. Therefore, we classify the two systems as dependent.
4.1.2. No Dependency
- System D: Employees in Case C, in the team of corporate marketing, used a free content management framework for setting up websites about the company in the business unit. As this is not a functionality in an ERP system and the ERP system does not provide the data, we classify them as independent.
- System E: The team of corporate marketing in Case C used a collection of tools for editing graphics and videos. ERP systems provide neither the functionalities nor the data, which puts the shadow system into this category.
- System F: In Case C, the team of trade fairs and events applied software for the development of applications for a specific web application platform. The shadow system also accounts for independent, as the ERP system provides neither the functionality nor the data.
4.1.3. Grey Zone
- System G: In Case B, the team of construction uses an external software to stamp drawings from the ERP system. Therefore, the project from the ERP system is loaded into the software. Afterwards, the team puts the stamp on the drawing. The software shares the data with the ERP system, but the ERP system cannot provide the functionality. Therefore, data is dependent and already loosely integrated. Functionality, however, is not.
- System H: In Case C, the team of corporate design loads data from the ERP system into the database of an online shop. The team takes the data from the ERP system. The data is therefore dependent and integrated via a manual interface, whereas the ERP system cannot provide the functionality of the upload. The functionality therefore is independent, whereas the data is.
- System I: In Case A, the team of benefits for organizations uses benefit and case reports for insurances. The provided summary of benefits in the ERP system is not sufficient. Therefore, each employee uses a tool of end user computing. There, she accumulates data from the ERP system as well as from other information sources, depending on the circumstances.
- System J: In Case B, the team of order processing uses a web application. It uses data from the ERP system but also external order data. It has several functionalities, such as the granting of discounts, planning of dates and the display of milestones for the order. The ERP system can provide all of these functionalities. Hence, all of the functionalities are dependent but only parts of the data.
- System K: The team of corporate marketing in Case C uses a self-developed system, based on ASP (Active Server Pages) to archive documents in different languages. Although the ERP system can provide archiving, it is not its core competency. It shares part of its data with the ERP system, but also uses external sources. Due to the unclear functionality, we cannot make a clear proposition about its dependency on the ERP system.
- System L: The team of order processing of special products in Case B uses a shadow system to describe big projects in different languages. They use building text blocks to combine technical sales and distribution aspects. They use another system for pricing, but with some additional functionalities for customs and big orders. The pricing functionality and the data of distribution are parts of the ERP system. However, the functionality for combining building blocks is not a core competency of the ERP system and we can therefore not clearly define its dependency.
Conflicts of Interest
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Huber, M.; Zimmermann, S.; Rentrop, C.; Felden, C. The Relation of Shadow Systems and ERP Systems—Insights from a Multiple-Case Study. Systems 2016, 4, 11. https://doi.org/10.3390/systems4010011
Huber M, Zimmermann S, Rentrop C, Felden C. The Relation of Shadow Systems and ERP Systems—Insights from a Multiple-Case Study. Systems. 2016; 4(1):11. https://doi.org/10.3390/systems4010011Chicago/Turabian Style
Huber, Melanie, Stephan Zimmermann, Christopher Rentrop, and Carsten Felden. 2016. "The Relation of Shadow Systems and ERP Systems—Insights from a Multiple-Case Study" Systems 4, no. 1: 11. https://doi.org/10.3390/systems4010011