Enterprise Systems @ SU
Enterprise systems, in particular enterprise resource planning (ERP) systems, have been part of the curriculum in the Perdue School of Business for about 13 years and our efforts have been continuously evolving and expanding. This initiative was started to provide our information systems (IS) students the opportunity to gain hands-on experience with an ERP system and continues today offering this opportunity plus much more.
This journey started with the Perdue School joining the SAP University Alliance in 2003. Students had the opportunity to work in a major ERP system while learning about the technology and the business processes it supports. Students learn about and experience all of the major business processes – order-to-cash, purchase-to-pay, production planning and execution, inventory and warehouse management, and, of course, all the financial and managerial accounting that goes along with them. They can continue learning more about ERP systems by configuring one – setting up all the data and rules to do those processes. Employers see the value in this as you will see in the comments from alumni below.
In January 2014, our students were given a new opportunity to take a global SAP certification course in the Perdue School with certified Information and Decision Sciences Department professors Dr. Kathie Wright and Dr. Karen Papke-Shields. This SAP ERP certification is considered an entry-level consulting certification. It is unlike the typical college course since it meets every day for two weeks, ending with the certification exam on the last day. To date, 30 of our students have become SAP Certified Associates in Integrated Business Processes with SAP ERP. This external validation only increases the value that employers see in these students.
The expansion of our ERP program also included SAP-infused courses in the M.B.A. starting in fall 2013 and the enterprise information systems (EIS) minor in spring 2014. Our M.B.A. students gain valuable knowledge and experience through classes using SAP ERP and SAP customer relationship management (CRM) with additional analytical tools. They can also participate in the certification course. The EIS minor allows students from other majors to take the ERP classes and the SAP certification course.
Other areas of expansion include introducing all business majors to the power of ERP systems in the introductory IS course, using the system in accounting information systems and giving IS students the chance to use cutting edge technology to develop apps. We also have classes focusing on business intelligence using SAP tools and other technologies – one in IS doing data visualization and predictive analysis and another in marketing where students do cool things like sentiment analysis of Twitter feeds.
So what is next? We are working on incorporating Success Factors, a leading HR IS, into at least one human resources course. We are also actively identifying other opportunities where an enterprise system can enhance student learning and provide hands-on experience using such systems to support decision-making. Enterprise systems are used in all parts of organizations so it just makes sense to give our students diverse opportunities as well.
You have heard that “the proof is in the putting” – here are a few comments from our former students about how enterprise systems knowledge has helped them in their careers:
- A former M.B.A. student said: “Completing the TERP 10 certification while earning the M.B.A. at Salisbury University has proven to be a pivotal decision in securing a career at an internationally recognized company.”
- A former IS major / accounting minor said: “The ERP experience I had going into job interviews is what set me apart from other applicants. It gave me a competitive advantage that, I believe, helped land my job.”
- A former management major / EIS minor said: “I just wanted to let you know that the SAP background I learned because of 370 and 471 has helped me tremendously at my new job! I am in SAP every day and having that background has been a huge help! I am now a financial analyst and am loving it.”
- Finally, an IS major now working for the Department of Navy said: “It is crazy to think that I took INFO 370 as an elective, as it was the only class that filled my schedule, and it turned out to change my life.”
Our goal at the beginning was to provide hands-on experience to enhance student learning, and we have certainly made progress on that. We continue to evolve and expand our offerings so we can continue to make a difference in our students’ lives.