J. Service Scie nce & Management, 2009, 3: 161-167
doi:10.4236/jssm.2009.23019 Published Online September 2009 (www.SciRP.org/journal/jssm)
Copyright © 2009 SciRes JSSM
Research on Economic Benefit from Y Software
Company’s ERP Users
Songsheng CHEN1, Lingbing LIU2
1Department of Accounting, Beijing Institute of Technology, Beijing, China; 2Internal Control and Risk Management Research
Center, Dongbei University of Finance & Economics, Dalian, China.
Email: chenss@bit.edu.cn, liulingbing@dufe.edu.cn
Received April 10th, 2009; revised May 20th, 2009; accepted July 2nd, 2009.
ERP (Enterprise Resources Planning) users often refuse to pay off the balance of payment because they think the soft-
ware vendors fail to complete the targets, for which the true reason is that the boundaries or standards on the effec-
tiveness and economic benefits of ERP is not clear. So it is necessary and important to effectively measure the benefits
brought by ERP to the users, which is favorable for both users and software vendors. This paper adopts an empirical
research method and analyzes on the information of ERP users of a Chinese well-known software company from
Shanghai and Shenzhen Stock Exchange. The study finds that the corporations who introduce the ERP system are gen-
erally better in performance than non-ERP users. The study also finds that the total assets of the ERP users in tested
group are increased and the asset-liability ration is stable after introducing ERP and, meanwhile, the total assets of the
non-ERP users in controlled group are not increased and the asset-liability ration is decreased. It might show that ERP
can help users maintain and strengthen their business strength. However, the study finds that both of inventory turnover
and account payable turnover of the ERP users have been slowed down instead of speeding up in the first two years
after introducing ERP. The decrease of inventory turnover represents that ERP system might need a long time for run-
ning-in. The reasons for account payable turnover decreasing might be two. One is that ERP is in the stage of run-
ning-in. The other probably is that ERP helps the users become stronger so that they can defer the payments to vendors
in order to making use of more non-cost funds.
Keywords: ERP, value of information techno logy, economic benefits
1. Introduction
Since Dr. Orlicky put forward the concepts of Indepen-
dent Demand and Dependent Demand of in MRP in
1965, the academia started to research on his benefit
brought the users by ERP (Enterprise Resources Plan-
ning). However, most of the study focus on the factors
which affect the success of the implementation of ERP
[1], the measure of the economic benefit is not regarded.
In this paper, we focus on the analysis of the users’ eco-
nomic benefit from ERP, evidence from the users of a
domestic famous software listing company. The content
of this paper includes literature review, theoretical
framework, research design and results, and conclusions.
2. Literature Review
Can ERP bring the users economic benefit? In recent
years, many software domestic and overseas ERP ven-
dors state that their products have improved the users’
performance. But it is considered as a kind of sales pro-
motion and is doubted by the public. This issue has been
studied since 90’s of 20th century [2,3], and some fa-
mous journals, such as the European Accounting Review
(No. 1, 2003) set up special column to introduce this
issue. The research of the scholars in China focused on
the factors affecting the implementation of ERP. In re-
cent years, they turn to the measure of user economic
benefit brought by ERP [4]. Most studies find that ERP
can bring users economic benefit. But they use different
ways to get their conclusion , which are divided into three
Firstly, some people think the user’s benefit can not be
exactly measured. Ti is the unique way that use ques-
tionnaire to investigate the user’s subjective perceiving
to speculate if the ERP bring users benefit. However, it is
usually very difficult to measure the success of the ERP
system because the effect of the intangible system, an-
other reason is that it is hard to divide information sys-
tem from other system which also affect the organization
performance [5,6]. The user’s satisfaction is always
served as the substitute of the success of information
system because the user’s satisfaction is considered more
efficient [7,8]. Wu and Wang [9] investigate in the ERP
users on 23 aspects of ERP, including the vendor’s
products, services, etc. They find the users are satisfied
with ERP and ERP has bought users economic benefit.
However, the way of investigation is lack of theoretic
explanation on the measure of the tangible and intangible
benefit, because it measures the value according to the
experience of uses. The test of the conclusion can not
been done and need cautiously Interpret.
Thirdly, some people think that construction of the
theoretical framework, introduction of financial indica-
tors or part of non-financial indicators can quantify the
benefit from ERP. This kind of research method has be-
come the mainstream. The main method is to select a
number of financial indicators and non-financial indica-
tors and to compare the changes in the value of the indi-
cators between the test group and the control group be-
fore and after the introduction of ERP, then make the
conclusions. Hunton et al. [2] find that the performance
of ERP users has not been declined after introducing
ERP, but not been improved, neither. Meanwhile, the
performance of the enterprises in controlled group has
been declined. Nicolaou et al. [3] find that the perform-
ance of ERP users has been obviously improved. Ma-
tolcsy et al. [10] find that there are six financial indica-
tors of ERP users have improved, such as the ARD (ac-
count receivable days) as well as the performance of
ERP use rs imp rov ed. The re sults are th e same a s tho se of
Nicolaou et al. [3] but different from those of Hunton et
al. [2]. The samples in the study of Matolcsy et al. are
mainly listed companies if Australia, which is limited in
geographical area. Moreover, there are only 35 samples
of SAP Company, which probably leads to selection bias.
Further more, their research does not take into account
the impact of macroeconomic or specific policies of
company. Poston and Grabski [11] find the number of
employees is reduced after the implementation of ERP;
however, number of employees of the controlled samples
has been reduced more. Wang et al. [4] find the Sales
profit margin and the ROI (return on investment) of us-
ers are significantly higher after implementation than
before. Similar indicators of small size companies are
significantly lower than those of large-scale companies,
which show that the implementation of ERP system has
the scale effect.
To sum up, the implementation of ERP system has
brought users benefit and the advantages outweigh the
disadvantages. The third type of research method is reli-
able because the theoretical framework is introduced to
interpret the indicators. In this paper, we will refer to this
method. But the different is we choice users of one soft-
ware vendor as the samples.
3. Theoretical Framework
Which indicators should be used to measure the eco-
nomic benefit of ERP to users? Poston and Grabski [11]
adopt four indicators including the number of employees.
Hunton et al. [2] adopt ROA (return on asset), ROI and
asset turnover. Nicolaou et al. [3] adopt APD (account
payable days), ARD, FAT (Fixed Asset Turnover), CR
(current ratio), and IT (Inventory Turnover). Matolcsy et
al. [10] adopt APD, CR, FAT, IT, NPR, SC (Sales
Changes) and the day of sales income clear. The Net-
work Economic Research Center of Beijing University
(2007) adopt EPS (Earnings per share), ROE, ROA, and
NPR. All the indicators above can be divided into two
kinds, one is financial indicators, and the other is
non-financial indicators. However the study above ig-
nores interpreting the selection of indicators theoreti-
Dehning and Richardson [12] try to introduce theory
to interpret the process of selecting indicators. They set
up the theoretical framework according to earlier litera-
ture on rate of return on investment of information sys-
tem. In their theoretical framework, they obtain series of
indicators, including indicators of information technol-
ogy, indicators of business process performance, indica-
tors of corporate performance and so on, explained the
differences in corporate performance brought about by
investment in information systems.
Some scholars choose indicators according to Theory
of Value Chain proposed by Porter [13]. According to
Theory of Value Chain, the business activities are seen
as a collection which is consistent of some separate but
related production functions. The value chain is formed
by creating value, as well as consuming the costs. The
enterprise has considerable freedom to decide the forma-
tion and coupling of these activities. Th ere are five basic
activities involved in every intra-industry competition,
including internal logistics, production operation, exter-
nal logistics, marketing and sales, service.
In logistics segment, Davenport et al. [14] think ERP
systems enable the communication is better, thus the
supply is timelier, payment is timelier and the manage-
ment of raw materials is more efficient. ERP systems are
related to every internal and extern al logistics segment o f
the enterprises. The implementation of ERP can reduce
Copyright © 2009 SciRes JSSM
Figure 1. Framework of measurable indicators on benefit
from ERP
consumption and waste of raw material. Matolcsy et al.
[10] think ERP help companies make timely payments,
which can get more concessions, such as cash discount,
in result, accelerated the APT (accounts payable turnover)
is increased and the day of account payable is reduced.
In production operation segment, ERP systems are
used to integrate the information of market and sales,
which directly support planning and controlling the pro-
duction operation [14]. ERP systems help improve FAT
and reduce leave unused equipment and maintain fix
asset, which has improved the efficiency of utilization of
machinery and equipment. The study both in America
and Australia prove it. Matolcsy et al. [10] prove that the
FAT of ERP users is much higher than other enterprises.
Besides, ERP systems improve inventory management,
reduce waste and update inventory more timely, thus, the
implementation of ERP improves IT.
In market and sales segment, ERP systems promote
the growth of sales, and enhance the value of the enter-
prise [15]. ERP improved SC by reengineering business,
integrating procurements and sales, improving the qual-
ity of service. ERP systems make management of ac-
count receivable more standardized, customer payment
timelier, so APT is sped up.
In service segment, ERP systems improve the quality
of service, which need to be investigated by question-
naires, however. In this paper, we focus on the research
on financial indicators, which will not involve in this
Moreover, ERP systems promote the activities in the
entire value chain, improve business performance. ERP
systems are supporting to timely provide high-quality
qualitative and quantitative analysis reports to the Board
of Directors and senior leadership [16]. Therefore, ERP
can increase NPR and CR [2]. In this paper, we set up a
system of indicators based on value chain. A simplified
diagrammatic represen tation of this is provided in Figure
In our framework, we introduce some control vari-
ables, including BSR (balance sheet ratios), TA (total
assets), ROE, in order to make the conclusion more
reliable. This model may be not perfect, but since the
data is accessible, we think it is the best one at pre-
4. Samples and Data
Matolcsy et al. [10] think that using user samples in one
software vendor can control some uncontrollable factors,
such as unreasonable and unreliable results due to the
difference between different ERP products. So, in this
paper, we choose users of U8 (a kind of ERP product)
produced by one Chinese software company, named Y1.
We compare the tested groups (ERP users) and con-
trolled groups (non-ERP users) respectively. In order to
control the Variation factor, the industries of the tested
groups is the same as the contr olled groups and the sales
income of the tested groups is similar as the controlled
groups, respectively.
Davenport et al. [14] think the selection of time for
research data should base on assumptions and standards
the as following: firstly, the data within three years be-
fore the implementation of ERP are sufficient; secondly,
the data in two years after the implementatio n of ERP are
almost sufficient; thirdly, in most case study, the data are
only cover two years after the implementation of ERP.
So it is thought the data in there years before and two
years after the implementation of ERP can be used to
provide information of benefit from ERP to the users.
Matolcsy et al. [10] find that the benefit would be pro-
duced in two years after the implementation of ERP and
it is hard to ERP to bring users more benefit after two
years. In this paper, we study on the data of six years,
which are three years before the implementation of ERP
(T=-3, T=-2, T=-1), the year of the implementation of
ERP (T=0) and two years after the implementation of
ERP (T=1, T=2). We adopt some financial indicators,
including NPM (net profit margin), ART, APT, FAT, CR,
NPR, SC, Asset-liability ratio, IT, TA(total assets) and
*The source of the data used in our study is the public information o
listing companies in China. We can not access all of the information
required by Porter’s Value Chain Model (1985). Some indicators in
Value Chain Model are ignored in our study.
1For the reason of confidentiality, we do not use the true name of the
Copyright © 2009 SciRes JSSM
Copyright © 2009 SciRes JSSM
Table 1. Statistical description (N=112)
C: Annual income
A: Compared by industries Number of Co. Annual income
( Million) Tested group Controlled
01 Finance 1 <100 10 8
02 Public Utility 7 >=100 and <200 15 14
03 Real Estate 2 >=200 and <300 14 12
04 Integration 15 >=300 and <400 8 12
05 Industry 74 >=400 and <500 6 3
06 Commerce 13 >=500 and <1000 19 25
B: Year ERP introduced Number of Co.>=1000 40 38
2000 21
2001 43
2002 13
2003 23
2004 12 Total 112 112
Ac c o rd i n g to the requirements abov e, we find 112 use r s
of Y Company1, who are Chinese listed companies (Ta-
ble 1).
It is showed in Table 1 that the most of the ERP users
are in industry (74), the second is Integration (15) and
Commerce (13) an d the most of users introduced ERP in
2001 (43). The annual income of the companies in both
tested group and controlled group is between 100
million and 1000 million(Table 1(C)).
To compare the indicators, the mean of every indicator
of ERP users in tested group is higher than that of
non-ERP users in controlled group (the calculation table
is omitted) in the three years before the implementation
of ERP. However, it is showed that the situation is not
better after introducing ERP than before. For example,
the mean of SC of tested group in t=-3, t=-2 and t=-1 is
0.262, 0.343, 0.73 and that of controlled group is 0.239,
0.183, 0.27, respectively. After implementation of ERP,
the mean of SC of tested group in t=1and t=2 is 0.20,
0.33, which is still higher th an that of controlled group is
0.21, 0.25, respectively, as a whole. To compare SC be-
fore and after implementation of ERP, we can find that it
is not higher after implementation of ERP than before as
a whole. Other financial performance indicators are the
same, such as NPM and NPR. In the six years (t=-3,
t=-2, t=-1, t=0, t=1 and t=2), the value of NMP in tested
group is 0. 28 6 ( 0 .255*), 0.27 ( 0 .251*), 0.28 (0 .25*), 0.27
(0.25*), 0.26 (0 .2 7*) , 0.25 (0.25 *)2 and the valu e o f NPR
is 8.3 (0.075**), 0.127 (0.088**), 0.11 (0.04**), -0.04
(-0.1**), -0.01 (0.04**), 0.05 (0.02**)3, respectively.
The differences of the mean of the indicators are not sig-
nificant in Statistic, which means the selected samples
are valid.
We test t value for the difference of mean of the indi-
cators and find most of them are not significant except
for NPR, the difference of mean is significant in t=-1
(the difference of mean is 0.1). It represents that the
mean of NPR in tested group just before introducing
ERP is much higher than that in controlled group. We
find that the mean of NPM in tested group is generally
higher than that in controlled group in the year t=-3,
t=-2, t=-1 and t=0, which are 0.03, 0.01, 0.02 and 0.02,
respectively. All of them have passed by Wilcoxon test.
Also, we find that the mean of NPR in tested group is
generally higher than th at in controlled group in the year
t=-3, t=-2, t=-1 and t=0, which are 0.005 , 0.04, 0.10 an d
0.04, respectively. All of them have passed by Wilcoxon
According to the three test methods above, the results
show that firstly the mean of indicators in tested group is
generally higher than that in controlled group before im-
1The user list is provided by Y Company.
2It represents the value of NMP in controlled group.
3It represents the value of NMP in controlled group.
plementing ERP and secondly the mean of indicators
after implementing ERP is generally not higher than that
before implementing ERP in tested group. So we could
say that the enterprises in good financial performance
could have the funds to introduce expensive ERP soft-
ware, not the other way around.
Other finding of us is the mean of (TA) in tested
group is lower than that in controlled group, which dif-
ference is -0.18. We think the reason probably is that the
introduction of ERP shows down the growth of assets,
however, we have no strong evidence to check it. Be-
sides, the SC of ERP users is not increased but decreased.
Although it is not significant in statistics, the difference
of mean is -0.11. We think the reason probably is that
the running between the departments need more time
since the introdu ction of ERP, which leads to slow down
the speed of growth of sales.
5. Statistical Analysis
We use statistical analysis on the single variable and the
multi-variance to test the prior results. We use time
window for analysis [-3, 0], [-2, 0], [-1, 0], [0, +1], [0,
+2]. The absolute change and relative change on the
value of financial indicators are compared respectively,
as well as t distribution tested. The indicators are divided
into three group, including measurable indicators of op-
eration (IT, FAT), measurable indicators of logistics
(ART, APT, SC) and measurable indicators of business
financial performance (NPR, CR). The three groups are
compared with one another.
5.1 Analysis on Signal Variable and Results
It shows that there are no difference between the finan-
cial indicators in both tested group and controlled group
in window [-3, 0], [-2, 0] and [-1, 0]. There is no ‘noise’,
which represents it can be used in the following analysis
with window [0, 1], [0, 2] (the calculation table is omit-
In [0, 1] window, the mean of TA in tested group is
0.09 which is higher than th at in con tro lled group (-0.95)
in the first year after introducing ERP. It shows that the
overall strength of the companies is strengthened be-
cause the size is expanded after introduction of ERP.
Meanwhile, the mean of APT in tested group is -0.19
which lower than that in controlled group (0.81). We
think one of the reasons probably is th at some new man-
agement problems come out and the running be tween the
departments takes more time since the introduction of
ERP, what leads to the payment to vendors is delayed.
The other reason probably is that the companies in tested
group generally have better reputation and become
stronger in operation, or is more powerful in the buyer's
market after implementing ERP, then they make use of
non-cost capital and reduce cost of funding by postpone
payables to their vendors. On the contrary, the compa-
nies in controlled group are generally weaker than those
in tested group. So, they need to pay on time. The mean
of TA in tested group is -0.18 which is much lower than
that in controlled group (1.54) and it is significant is t
test. We think the reason probably is that the running
between the departments takes more time since the in-
troduction of ERP in result of slow ing down the turnover
of the inventory.
In [0, 2] window, the mean of TA in tested group is
0.17 which is higher than th at in con tro lled group (-0.95),
which we think is due to the implementing of ERP,
which push up the total assets, as well the strength of the
companies by absorbing more fund and investment. As-
set-liability ratio has little change while the total assets
are stable in tested group in the two years after introduc-
ing ERP. Meanwhile, it changes much in controlled
group. Both of them are significant in t test. It represents
that the net assets decreased and the liabilities increased
in controlled group and the overall strength is weakened
and the business operation is in the poor conditions.
Meanwhile, ERP users are survived and maintain their
stable capital structure and grow th. It shows that in all of
the measurable indicators, the mean value of the indica-
tors including APT, IT, Asset-liability ratio, and (TA),
have little changes and others. And others have great
changes which are significant in t test. Therefore, ERP
has increased the users’ economic benefit, generally.
5.2 Variable and Results Analysis on
Multi-Variance and Results
Referring to Table 2(A) and 2(B), we find that the value
of indicators in tested group is generally higher than that
in controlled group two years before introducing ERP,
which confirms the foregoing conclusion. Referring to
Table 2(C) and 2(D ), we find that the value of indicators
in tested group is generally higher than that in controlled
group two years after introducing ERP and is significant
in t test. We can see in Table 2(D) that the differences of
the value of indicators in [0, 2] are significant, such as
SC, APT, ART and this result is the same as those in the
single variable analysis. Thus, we can conclude that
these changes are brought by ERP. Meanwhile, we find
that there is little change in NPR, CR which indicates the
ultimate financial performance of the business. We con-
sider the reason might be that it takes a long time for
Copyright © 2009 SciRes JSSM
Table 2. Results on multi-variance analysis between tested group and controlled group
Sig. of F on absolute
change Sig. of F on % change Sig. of F on absolute
change Sig. of F on % change
Item Pillais Single factor Pillais Single factorItemPillaisSingle factor Pillais Single factor
A: Multivariate tests of significance [-2, 0] C: Multivariate tests of significance [0,1]
Group 1: IT and FAT Group 1: IT and FAT
IT 1.82 0.95 10.544***1.05 IT2.07 5.144** 6.45*** 8.578***
FAT 1.82 0 10.544***0.02 FAT2.07 0.05 6.45*** 1.44
Group 2: ART, APT and SC Group 2: ART, APT and SC
ART 1.4 0.95 9.458*** 0.03 ART0.75 0.44 3.988*** 1.51
APT 1.4 0.55 9.458*** 1.09 APT0.75 3.141** 3.988*** 2.07
SC 1.4 0.82 9.458*** 2.41 SC0.75 0.81 3.988*** 1.04
Group 3: NPR and CR Group 3: NPR and CR
NPR 6.519*** 0.309 7.328*** 0.69 NPR1.10 0.86 5.117*** 0
CR 6.519*** 0.592 7.328*** 0.001 CR1.1 1.89 5.117*** 0.87
B: Multivariate tests of significance [-1,0] D: Multivariate tests of significance [0,2]
Group 1: IT and FAT Group 1: IT and FAT
IT 0.55 0.07 6.5*** 1.74 IT0.11 0.55 2.01 0.94
FAT 0.55 2.17 6.5*** 0.2 FAT0.11 0.25 2.01 1.1
Group 2: ART, APT and SC Group 2: ART, APT and SC
ART 0.7 2.21 5.558*** 0 ART0.32 0.27 5.56*** 0.53
APT 0.7 2.33 5.558*** 1.46 APT0.32 0.18 5.56*** 0.03
SC 0.7 0.91 5.558*** 0.29 SC0.32 0.26 5.56*** 1.76
Group 3: NPR and CR Group 3: NPR and CR
NPR 4.389** 0.081 1.011 3.206** NPR17.175***0.351 19.399*** 0.28
CR 4.389** 0.044 1.011 0.023 CR17.175***1.129 19.399*** 0.277
t test of significance: 0.1; **0.05; ***0.01
ERP to produce some economic benefit and the time of
two years is too short to ex amine the users’ benefit fro m
ERP. Moreover, the users should not count on one man-
agement software to solve all problems in their business
operation without business process reengineering. Ac-
cording to the investigation in some companies with ERP,
the users think the main function of ERP is to speed up
the business process. As for the financial performance,
the users should not expect ERP bring the benefit in a
short time.
In conclusion , the analysis both on single v ariance and
multi-variance shows that ERP can help users enhance
the value of indicators on logistics, but can bring little
benefit on other aspects.
6. Conclusions
The ERP users generally have better performance in the
three years before the introduction of ERP than the con-
trolled group, if the effect of the industry and size factors
is left out of account, which might represent that the
corporations who introduce the costly ERP system are
generally better performance and stronger ones.
The total assets of the ERP users in tested group are
increased and the asset-liability ration is stable after in-
troducing ERP. Meanwhile, the total assets of the non-
ERP users in controlled group are stable and the as-
set-liability ration is decreased. The results show that
ERP can help users maintain the capital structure and
growth in the situation that the others’ strength becomes
The inventory turnover and account payable turnover
of the ERP users have been slowed down instead of
speeding up in the two years after introducing ERP,
which might represents that the overall benefits of ERP
are not brought into play within two years. Even, the new
system might hinder the normal business operation in the
Copyright © 2009 SciRes JSSM
early. We consider there might be another reason for the
decrease of account payable turnover that ERP help the
users strengthen their strength and enhance the credit
standing, in result, the companies in the buyer’s market
who can defer the payments to vendors in order to mak-
ing use of more non-cost funds and reduce their capital
cost. In conclusion, the key finding in the analysis and
discussion of the survey results is th at ERP can bring the
users part changes and there might be no improvement
on some indicators as expected in the first two years after
introducing ERP.
However, we should make conclusions carefully be-
cause the study is based on the limited users’ data, which
covers only 2 years after introducing ERP. If this ex-
ploratory study can base on more private data, it will
help to develop the value chain model and measure ERP
benefits better. Of course, the conclusion will not be dif-
ferent since the test on steadiness has been done.
The conclusions above also remind ERP users that
they should not expect the immediate effect and benefits
of ERP. The business reengineering and time are neces-
sary for ERP producing benefits. ERP may bring users
some favorite changes but not all. Sometimes, it could
also bring some harm. Besides, the software vendors also
should pay attentio n to the way to reduce cost in order to
absorb more potential customers, as well as better meet-
ing the users’ requirements on software design.
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