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An assessment of citizen benefits of enterprise resource planning systems in municipalities
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In this information age, Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) system implementation simplifies complexities within organisational heterogeneous Information Systems (IS). Following the early era of computerisation, ERP systems were designed to provide a formal integration of the whole enterprise with a business focussed approach to the application of Information and Communication Technology (ICT). With the advent of ERP systems, organisations in industry have invested substantially in these systems to assist and augment their ability to form more effective management of their resources across corporate walls and business functions through an integration of information and operations. In the public sector, governments at all levels have also turned to ERP systems to address their needs. As such, ERP implementation has become a new solution that many public institutions are venturing into, based on the evidence of benefits in the commercial sector. However, in the public sector, ERP systems should not be focussed on just internal organisational benefits. Due cognisance must be given, during design and implementation, to the citizen, who is the key public sector beneficiary. The benefits from ERP systems implementation and utilisation are well researched and documented by various scholars. However research has mainly focused on the private sector. Given the growing importance of ERP systems in the public sector it has become imperative to advance understanding in the arena of government with regards to public ERP system implementation and utilisation. Thus, an important question that warrants investigation is: ―What are the benefits for the citizen when ERP systems are implemented by municipalities?‖ The empirical work reported in this research investigated, via an in-depth case study, how the citizen benefits from ERP implementations in municipalities. Fifteen respondents, who are employees the City of Cape Town Municipality, were interviewed. Their interview transcripts, together with the other supporting documents they supplied and information from the City‘s website, were analysed through hermeneutical analysis. The analysis of the data was facilitated by the use of Atlas.ti, a computer-aided qualitative analysis software tool. Four key findings emanated from the analysis. Indirect ERP-system benefits: The benefits in this category denoted those benefits that are generically found in any ERP system regardless of it being implemented in a private or public enterprise setup. Direct citizen benefits: These are the benefits that are noticeable and directly extended to the citizens even without the knowledge of the existence of the ERP system. Effective ERP system benefits management: This finding elaborated how the ERP system can be sustainably managed to ensure that it delivers maximum benefits to the citizens in a long term. Efficient and effective use of public money: This finding explained the outcomes of utilising the ERP system, specifically in public enterprises, such as municipalities. The findings of this study are important in that they would assist to articulate and improve the business cases when municipalities commence with planning for ERP system acquisition. This is especially important given the high cost related to ERP system implementation. More importantly, the findings provide a basis for the identification of citizen benefits which are related to ERP system implementation. This provides municipal management a frame within which to improve the on-going management of ERP systems. The findings thus support improved ERP system benefits management and which would in turn ensure improved service delivery to the citizenry.