Tuesday, August 17, 2010

B-Schools using Open Source ERP to Teach Business Processes

For years, there has been a need for teaching students about business process integration. The use of ERP systems has been proposed as a mechanism to meet this need. Yet, in the midst of a recent economic crisis, it is difficult to find funding for the acquisition and implementation of an ERP system for teaching purpose. While it is recognized that the use of ERP systems might provide a variety of benefits in a business school curriculum, how could business schools overcome the limited resources in order to bring in and integrate ERP systems into their business core classes?

I first started thinking about this several years ago in discussions with Steve Walton, Associate Dean of Executive MBA Programs at Emory's Goizueta Business School. What I wanted to do was teach a 'mini' class on business management systems and the supporting IT systems. The problem was how do you get the licenses and support of true enterprise software so that the students can have access to it?

Not long after OpenSurge became an xTuple Development Partner, it all came back to me and the solution was actually at hand. Using open source xTuple ERP (okay we would probably donate the server space), the students would have access to true enterprise software where they could learn the interactions between the business processes, cost accounting, supply chain management - even get to look at data table structure and report writing. I believe this is an outstanding and innovative approach to introduce the next generation of business leaders to business processes.

And it runs on a Mac! See the nearby post!

My thoughts on the next step is to solicit companies within the metro Atlanta area that are considering changing, updating or implementing a new ERP system. The students could then perform the discovery work, configure the application and proceed to conference room pilot. The participating company would need to provide access for the discovery phase - probably 8-12 hours would be sufficient. The idea is not to "nail" the install, but to gather enough data to make a realistic stab at the pilot.

If anyone has some thoughts or feedback, post a comment or email me. You can find my contact information on the OpenSurge website.

Thanks to a piece from Minh Huynh and Ivan Pinto at Southeastern Louisiana University for reminding my of the topic - all of which you can get here, the intro is theirs.

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