Evaluation of Business Benefits of SaaS-based Integrated Enterprise Systems for SMEs

Schaefer, Gwendolin (2014) Evaluation of Business Benefits of SaaS-based Integrated Enterprise Systems for SMEs. Doctoral thesis, University of Central Lancashire.

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Decision support and business management systems are becoming increasingly important for small and medium sized enterprises (SMEs). There has been very limited research on software-as-a-service-based (SaaS) systems for SMEs and the subsequent benefits of these. This study aims to gain an understanding of the benefits that may be achieved with SaaS-based integrated enterprise systems (IES). It was ascertained that IT-structure and organisational benefits may be achieved through implementing an SaaS-based IES for SMEs. Moreover, SME characteristics, critical success factors, consultant experience and risk factors appear to have an influence on the achievement of benefits. It may be determined that the benefits associated with SaaS-based IES differ from those of traditional ES and thus have to be considered independently from their on-premise counterparts.
The study, conducted using mixed methods research (exploratory interviews and questionnaires), ascertained that the investigated system did not perform as expected. One of the most significant results of my research was the finding that SMEs who implemented the full range of functionalities perceived less benefits than those who only implemented parts of the functionalities. This supports the hypothesis that ES projects are not only in large enterprises, but still for SMEs complex change projects. Change takes time and thus it may not be advisable to implement a whole enterprise system within a short period of time.
This study contributes to knowledge in the information systems and decision support systems area by providing new information about the potential benefits of SaaS-based IES, in addition to a variety of factors that may influence the achievement of benefits. The main findings of this thesis are summarised as a benefits framework and a benefits influence model. These models offer a starting point for future academic SaaS-based IES research, in terms of SMEs. They also provide SME practitioners with a framework of what to expect from SaaS-based IES, aiding them in evaluating and planning investments in Enterprise Systems.

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