In the era of the dynamic business environment, organizations and especially SMEs face various challenges such as fierce competition, prominent market power, continuous information technology (IT) advancements, and the relevant innovative usage of that technology in order to gain a competitive advantage. These challenges are affecting the way that organizations are managed. According to Liem et al. [1
] there are various limitations SMEs might face that make their ability to innovate very difficult such as absence of advantaged information from experts, human resources, and technology particularly in developing countries. In fact, the universal nature of the new marketplace needs active players to globalize their operations [2
]. To subsist with these challenges, organizations have adopted numerous strategies and change initiatives. Some of these initiatives are designed to make their internal procedures more efficient. For instance, IT has provided numerous tools to businesses in order to assist in their management tasks. However, there is a call for more evidence, including studies that prove the investment in IT will provide firms a positive value. According to Hunton et al. [3
], several studies have sought to discover a positive association between IT investments and firm performance. For instance, Melville et al. [4
] stated that IT is beneficial, offering a wide range of prospective advantages such as productivity enhancement, flexibility, cost reduction, quality improvement.
The last three decades showed heightened advancements in the field of IT. This started with the evolution of the Internet, electronic data interchange, and the world wide web (WWW). In addition, IT innovation continued with a new generation such as materials enterprise planning, customer relationship management (CRM), supply chain management (SCM), and ERP systems. According to Costa et al. [5
], in the mid-1990s, ERP systems started to appear and were used by firms to determine and organize business procedures throughout the organization. ERP is “an integrated information system that can be used to manage all the resources, data, and functions of a firm from shared data stores” [6
] (p. 21). Studies show that many researchers have been very active in studying ERP systems. After becoming successful globally, ERP systems have not only attracted researchers who are specialized in IT/IS but also those who are specialized in management and accounting [7
]. Most of the studies investigate the influence of ERP systems on the performance for large organizations. Thus, it is important to focus on the impact of ERP systems for SMEs.
Currently, ERP vendors are seeking alternative markets among SMEs. In the past, only large enterprises could bear the cost of adopting ERP systems because of the economic and technological constraints [8
]. However, ERP adoption is now possible for SMEs as there are ERP software for small entities. Zafar et al. [9
] argued that, in Saudi Arabia, SMEs represent about 93% of all organizations and provide about 24.7% of total employment. Thus, SMEs provide a massive prospective market for ERP adoption [8
]. The Saudi government has recently emphasized the contribution to the economy of SMEs in its Vision 2030 initiative. Saudi SMEs have witnessed rapid developments in the last four decades. Despite this rapid development, studies conducted on this type of firms are rare in Saudi Arabia. The need for new systems is increasing, given the strong competition in the marketplace, and SMEs in Saudi Arabia are required to start an IT transformation to enhance their everyday work practices. By looking at ERP systems from an SMEs enterprises perspective, Saudi SMEs are quick to implement ERP systems, yet they do face some problems. Zafar et al. [9
] intended to study the challenges of adopting IS on SMEs. They found that IS plays a significant role in the growth and survival of SMEs in Saudi Arabia. They noticed an absence of the structures and technical skills that can support the SMEs to achieve their objectives in the future.
However, studies conducted on SMEs are rare in Saudi Arabia and most of the research studies investigate the influence of ERP systems on the performance of large organizations. Zafar et al. [9
] noted that most of previous papers on SMEs in the KSA examined how an enterprise is considered either as a small business or as a medium-sized enterprise. Thus, it is important to focus on the impact of ERP systems for SMEs. Additionally, most prior researches focus on the implementation stage of ERP systems, and concentrated specifically on identifying the critical success factors (CSFs) related to ERP system implementation [10
]. One of the areas that has not been widely studied in the literature is the usage of ERP systems.
Costa et al. [5
] analyzed the existing literature related to ERP systems from 1990–2015 in order to obtain an inclusive understanding of ERP system development. They found that the studies related to ERP systems have been increased during the last 25 years, yet, most of these studies focus on the implementation stage. According to Eid and Abbas [15
], focusing on user acclimation to ERP systems and their impact on ERP outcome elements has received little interest from researchers. In addition, there are other factors that can affect the influence of ERP systems on the organizations, yet few studies have investigated these factors ([16
Ultimately, much ambiguity still exists about the influence of ERPs usage on business performance and the factors affecting this relationship for SMEs. Identifying factors affecting the users while using ERP systems is critical to making the most effective use of ERP systems, which in turn should lead to better business performance. Hence, this study makes a significant contribution to the ERP literature by developing a framework to provide an understanding of factors that support the effective use of ERPs in SMEs. This study aims to focus on the factors affecting ERP system usage and examine the relationship between ERP system use and business performance for Saudi’s SMEs. Particularly, we developed research model that links contingency factors and the effective use of ERPs to business performance. An exploratory study has been used mainly to identify the factors. Based on the exploratory study finding, three hypotheses are developed and tested in a quantitative study. About 120 valid responses are received. Partial least squares structural equation modelling (PLS-SEM) is adopted for data analysis and hypothesis testing. The findings suggest that management support, user satisfaction, and training significantly impact the ERPs usage. Another significant finding is that ERP systems enhance SMEs business performance.
The remainder of this paper is structured as follows: in Section 2
, the related previous studies are critically reviewed and discussed. The basic concepts and notations employed in the paper are elaborated, in Section 3
. The employed research approach is discussed and illustrated in Section 4
, and data analysis and results are explained and discussed in Section 5
. The discussion and conclusion are displayed in Section 6
. Finally, the implementation of the study and the future research are illustrated in Section 7
7. Implication and limitations of the Study
This study used a theoretical framework derived from contingency theory to investigate the effect of several factors on the ERP systems usage and to discover whether this type of system influenced the performance of Saudi Arabian SMEs or not. The results show that some organizational and ERPs factors significantly influence successful ERP system usage and that ERP systems in SMEs enhance business performance. Thus, this research has implications for SME management in Saudi Arabia. The findings of this study provide insight to managers in SMEs on how they might efficiently manage the adoption and successful usage of ERP systems. Since ERP systems are considered to be complex, organizations such as SMEs or those with few resources should take into account several factors if they wish to use these systems successfully. Managers in SMEs should focus on the usage stage of ERP systems, not just the implementation. We do not underestimate the implementation phase, but our study clearly shows the importance of the usage stage in system success.
7.2. Limitations of the Study and Future Research
Although the study’s findings have significant implications for the successful usage of ERP systems, this study has a few limitations as well. the main limitation of this study was the sample size. This was due to time frame constraints. Also, there were various types of unknown ERP systems that had been implemented by several SMEs included in the study sample. From our point of view, well-known ERP systems (e.g., SAP and Oracle) are different from unknown system, such as Sage, Onyx, and Wengs because many aspects may vary in different ways for instance quality and the support from the vendor. Thus, the results of this study may vary when applying them to SMEs that use well-known systems rather than another brand of the systems.
Empirically, this study is limited to a sample of Saudi Arabia ERP adopted quoted firms, which may result in the findings being applicable only to this context. Future research can benefit from conducting comparative studies for different contexts, such as developed and developing context or conducting research using a longitudinal data. That would provide a better understanding of the relationship between the study’s constructs, assessing the validity, and generalizability. Therefore, future research should attempt to replicate this study in other national settings.
It could be interesting to study further factors that may influence successful ERP system usage periciliary for SMEs. Future studies might benefit from including other factors, such as human resources, structure, strategy, and organizational cultural. Future research is also needed to examine the moderating influence of ERP system usage for the relationship between contingency factors and business performance. The result of this examination can derive the SMEs to take strategic decisions. A streamlined or adapted version of the theoretical framework used here could be developed and utilized to demonstrate the importance of these other factors.