ERP Integration
A Systematic Mapping Study
Tommi Kähkönen and Kari Smolander
Software Engineering and Information Management, Lappeenranta University of Technology,
P.O. Box 20, 53851 Lappeenranta, Finland
Keywords: Enterprise Resource Planning, Integration, Systematic Mapping Study, Literature Review.
Abstract: Companies have been adopting Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) systems for decades in order to
integrate business functions to increase their competitiveness. The original goal of ERP was to provide an
all-in-one integrated suite for the enterprise. However, in a modern business environment, ERPs are
integrated externally with customers, suppliers and business partners and internally with continuously
changing system landscape of the enterprise. In this paper we present a systematic mapping study that
investigates how ERP integration-related issues have been studied by the academia between 1998 and 2012.
Studies about technological issues are mostly dealing with systems inside a company whereas studies on
methodological issues focus on the integration of the supply chain management and e-business. However,
these studies are often either carried out without a rigorous research method or they are based on single
cases only. Quantitative methods have been mainly used to investigate quality attributes of ERPs. It is still
unclear, how integration issues are effectively solved by a network of stakeholders in an ERP project. This
requires more research in the future.
ERP systems are integrated computer information
systems that aim to integrate the core business
processes in a company, previously automated by
monolithic legacy applications (Alshawi et al., 2004;
Yusuf et al., 2004). They are designed to automate
the flow of information, material and financial
resources of these processes to a single database,
which can be accessed to get real-time enterprise
data whenever needed (Somers and Nelson, 2003;
Su and Yang, 2010). The rationale for adopting an
ERP system is that the enterprise can enhance its
business performance, financial predictability, and
decision making by business process automation
with timely access to management information
(Yusuf et al., 2004). ERP can also increase the
productivity as well as improve the quality of
customer service and knowledge management
(Berchet and Habchi, 2005). Adopting an ERP
system means that a company usually chooses an
ERP product from a certain vendor (e.g. SAP,
Oracle or Microsoft) and either re-engineers its
business processes to match those offered by the
ERP product, or customizes the ERP product to
match the existing processes (Somers and Nelson,
2003; Themistocleous and Corbitt, 2006).
The origin of ERP systems can be traced back
prior to 1960s when inventory control systems were
introduced (Metaxiotis et al., 2003). MPR (Material
Requirements Planning) systems emerged in 1970s
to convert production plans into raw material
requirements and in late 1980s, mainframe-based
MPR2 systems were to optimize the production
process of the plant (Cardoso et al., 2004; Hwang
and Grant, 2011). Later, more functional areas
including accounting and finance could be served by
one unified system called ERP (Cardoso et al.,
Originally designed to integrate only the internal
business functions, it was soon realized that ERPs
could not meet all integration requirements of the
changing business environment. It became necessary
to integrate operations across national borders and
coordinate business processes with partners in
strategic alliances (Barki and Pinsonneault, 2002).
Business collaboration has become a key strategy for
companies and it needs cooperation among
organizations, integration of business processes and
enterprise systems (Wang et al., 2005). In a modern
Kähkönen T. and Smolander K..
ERP Integration - A Systematic Mapping Study.
DOI: 10.5220/0004419900230035
In Proceedings of the 15th International Conference on Enterprise Information Systems (ICEIS-2013), pages 23-35
ISBN: 978-989-8565-59-4
2013 SCITEPRESS (Science and Technology Publications, Lda.)
business environment, a single organization is a part
of the network of delivering and supporting
organizations – a part of the supply chain (Su and
Yang, 2010). Even though it is challenging to
accomplish, organizational integration is needed to
interconnect customers, distributors and suppliers
via integrated supply chains (Barki and
Pinsonneault, 2002). Implementing an ERP system
is seen as the first step in the process of enterprise-
wide supply chain integration. (Downing, 2010;
Yusuf et al., 2004). There is a need to manage the
integration among different businesses and systems
(Eckartz et al., 2009).
Currently, an ERP system is just one of the many
information systems used in organizations (Oman,
2011).The scope of ERP has advanced to Extended
ERP or ERPII, in which the traditional ERP is
integrated with other operational systems such as
SCM (Supply Chain Management) and CRM
(Customer Relationship Management)
(Vathanophas, 2007). During the years, different
technological solutions, including EAI (Enterprise
Application Integration) and SOA (Service Oriented
Architecture) have been introduced to solve the
integration issues between these systems (Margaria
et al., 2010; Wang and Zhang, 2005). A modern
ERP is often accessed by mobile devices from
different locations (Frank and Kumar, 2012;
Jankowska and Kurbel, 2005). It also provides
access for customers via web interfaces
(Vathanophas, 2007).
Even though significant amount or research has
been conducted on ERP systems during the last 15
years, we can still read from the news about ERP
disasters: for example US Air Force spent over one
billion dollars to an ERP project and cancelled the
unsuccessful project after 8 years (CXO Media Inc.,
2013a). Also, IBM was recently sued because of
disastrous mismatch between an ERP product with a
manufacturing company (CXO Media Inc., 2013b).
As modern ERP implementations are becoming
more complex and challenging, we believe that
integration has a key role in ERP projects. Therefore
this study takes the first step in a research project
that aims to investigate integration issues in modern
ERP projects. This paper maps systematically the
existing literature and investigates how ERP
integration has been studied in the academia in order
to provide a solid baseline for ERP integration
The next section provides the definition for the
concept integration and discusses other literature
reviews performed on ERPs. Section 3 explains how
the process of this mapping study was carried out.
Results are presented in section 4. Section 5
discusses about the future directions of ERP
integration research and section 6 provides the
Definition of Integration
Integration is an ambiguous term that has many
interpretations in different domains. For example, in
strategy, it means “coordination of activities and
management of dependencies between them
(Glouberman and Mintzberg, 2001). In production
and logistics, it is “coordinated management of
information, material flows, plant operations and
logistics through a common sets of principles,
strategies, policies and performance metrics” (Barki
and Pinsonneault, 2002). The dictionary also
provides multiple definitions for integration, for
example “the act of combining or adding parts to
make a unified whole” (Farlex Inc., 2013). In the
domain of information technology, integration is
often associated with different perspectives. For
example, Barki and Pinsonneault (2002) list the
following perspectives:
Technical perspective sees at least two
interconnected systems exchanging data
Business Process perspective views
standardized business processes among
organizations coupled through information
Strategic perspective views integration as
coordination and cooperation between human
Application integration and organizational
integration are often referred with internal and
external perspectives. Application integration is a
strategic approach to bind information systems
together (Linthicum, 2004). According to Linthicum
(2004), application integration can be both internal
and external (business-to-business, B2B). Moreover,
integrating information systems inside a single
company is often referred as Enterprise Application
Integration (EAI). Organizational integration is “the
extent to which all processes and technologies of the
entire value chain of an organization constitute a
unified whole” which can be happening internally
within an organization or externally across different
organizations (Barki and Pinsonneault, 2002). Also,
it is stated that internal integration deals with
interrelationships and trade-offs within a firm while
external integration refers to coordination with
customers and/or suppliers (Welker et al., 2008).
The evolution of the Internet and web technologies
have changed the focus of integration, to consider
also external stakeholders, to connect customers and
suppliers through CRM and SCM to the ERP system
(Búrca et al., 2005; Turner and Chung, 2005).
Instead of being just a technical activity,
Information sharing and cooperation are tasks that
are closely related especially to external integration,
where business partners integrate their systems
(Barki and Pinsonneault, 2002). We also see
integration as an activity which aims at blending
elements of systems inside and outside the company
to a unified whole, not only by means of technical
solutions but also by information sharing and
collaboration between human actors.
2.2 Existing Literature Reviews on
Since the end of 1990s, ERP systems have been a
major interest of researchers. Seven systematic
literature reviews to map all the conducted research
on ERP systems have been done (Addo-Tenkorang
and Helo, 2011; Botta-Genoulaz et al., 2005;
Esteves and Pastor, 2001; Esteves and Bohorquez,
2007; Moon, 2007; Schlichter and Kraemmergaard,
2010; Shehab et al., 2004).
These literature reviews address the integration
issues only partly. Shehab et al. (2004) did not point
out categories related to integration issues in their
study. Botta-Genoulaz et al. (2005) used the
category “ERP for supply chain management,”
which views an ERP as a platform for other
applications, including CRM and SCM. The authors
found five articles that deal with integration of ERP
and other systems. Esteves and Bohorquez (2007)
identified 21 integration-related articles and
categorized these articles as “Evolution.” Moon
(2007) identified 37 articles dealing with extending
the functionality of ERPs whereas Addo-Tenkorang
and Helo, (2011) found 15 articles related to this
category. Schlichter and Krammergaard (2010)
identified studies related to “ERP tool” and “ERP
and supply chain management,” but the authors only
pointed out few examples related to these categories.
Rather than examining all the ERP related
research we aim at finding out the ERP integration
issues from the literature in order to provide a
comprehensive view to this topic. We wanted to
investigate how internal and external information
systems are being integrated with ERPs and by what
means integration issues have been studied. Only
Schlichter and Krammergaard (2010) identified the
research approaches of the studies, but they did not
highlight what approaches have been used to
investigate integration issues.
For this study, we have set the following
research questions: 1) How have the number of
publications related to ERP integration been
evolved between 1998 and 2012? 2) What aspects of
integration have been investigated? 3) What
research methods have been used in these studies?
and 4) What topics need to be investigated further?
A systematic literature review (SLR) is a secondary
study which aims to gather and evaluate all the
evidence on a selected research topic (De Almeida
Biolchini et al., 2007; Kitchenham et al., 2009). It
aims at identifying gaps in current research to point
out the potential areas of further research and it can
also provide background to position new research
activities (Kitchenham and Charters, 2007).
Systematic mapping study (SMS, sometimes
called as scoping review) is a study complementary
to SLR (Kitchenham and Charters, 2007; Petersen et
al., 2008). Kitchenham and Charters (2007)
highlight qualitative differences between SLR and
SMS. Petersen et al. (2007) provide more
comprehensive comparison by stating that there are
similarities and differences in goals and process as
well as in breadth and depth of these studies. Unlike
SLR, SMS does not aim at establishing the state of
evidence and identifying the best practices based on
empirical evidence. Mapping studies do not study
articles in detail but aim at classification and
thematic analysis. The goal of both types of studies
is to identify the research gaps with the aim to
influence the future direction of primary research.
An SMS aims to classify and structure a certain field
of interest, often by analysing the categories and
frequencies of publications (Petersen et al., 2008).
An SMS analyses the literature to find out what kind
of studies related to research question have been
done, what is their publication forum and what kind
of outcomes have been produced (Bailey et al.,
2007). The process for SMS in software engineering
has been defined by Petersen et al. (2008). Figure 1
presents this process.
First, the research questions are defined for the
SMS. Search strings are selected and they are used
to search articles from scientific databases to
identify the primary studies, by manually browsing
and handling the results of the search. Screening
Figure 1: A process of systematic mapping study.
of papers for inclusion and exclusion is used to filter
out the papers that do not answer the research
questions. In keywording of abstracts, the context
and contribution of research is identified. This can
be done by identifying a set of keywords and
combining them to form a high-level understanding
of research area. Based on keywording, the
population of related papers can be classified and
categorized. Finally, the data is extracted from
studies and presented in form of a systematic map
that visualizes the results with graphs and tables or
other graphical representations (Petersen et al.,
In our study, keywords and databases were
selected after defining the research questions.
Searches were made by using the advanced search
functionality offered by the databases. A set of
related articles was identified from the search results
by using inclusion and exclusion criteria.
Categorization was made iteratively by handling the
set of related articles that were not excluded. Finally,
the results were presented, a systematic map was
produced and the meaning of results was interpreted.
3.1 Selecting Keywords and Databases
First, a pilot search from different databases was
made to estimate how feasible the chosen area of
interest is for performing a systematic mapping
study. It appeared that the number of search results
varied from 20 to 260 depending on the database by
using keywords “ERP” AND “integration”. We
decided that this number of articles is possible for
closer investigation.
Rather than choosing specific journals or
conferences, we selected six databases for review:
ACM, CiteSeer, IEEEXplore, Sciverse,
SpringerLink and EBSCO. These databases target a
wide range of the most important conferences and
journals in computer science, software engineering,
and information systems. Moreover, they all offer an
advanced search functionality that allows searching
from different parts of the article, like from titles,
abstracts, and keywords.
We decided to search the terms “ERP” AND
“integration” from the metadata (titles, keywords
and abstracts) of articles. The time period was set
from 1998 to 2012. From ACM, CiteSeer and
EBSCO we had to perform two searches, because
the search engines allowed only searching from titles
or from abstracts instead of from all the metadata.
Filtering was used in searching to crop the unrelated
topics in Sciverse and EBSCO. Table 1 shows the
results from actual search.
Table 1: Results from actual search.
Source Search criteria and filtering
Accepted /
1) ERP and integration from
published in 1998-2012
2) ERP and integration from
titles, published in 1998-2012
1) ERP and integration from
abstracts, published in 1998-
2) ERP and integration from
titles, published in 1998-2012
ERP and integration from
metadata, published in 1998-
ERP and integration from
titles, abstracts and keywords
limiting to Computers in
Industry, European Journal of
Operational Research, Expert
Systems with Applications,
Information & Management,
International Journal of
Production Economics
ERP and integration from titles
and abstracts since 1.1.1998,
no book chapters
1) ERP and integration from
abstracts, source type:
academic journals, published
in 1998-2012, filtering out
evoked potentials from
thesaurus terms
2) ERP and integration from
titles, source type: academic
3.2 Handling the Related Articles
In total of 721 search results were first reviewed by
reading the title, keywords and abstract. This was
done to decide if the article meets the criteria. At this
point, articles focusing on completely different
All Papers
of Papers
Process Steps
topics such as Event Related Potentials, or articles
written in other language than English were dropped
out. We also removed duplicate articles. In total 310
articles were identified as potentially interesting, and
they were reviewed in more detail.
3.2.1 Exclusion Criteria
During the further analysis of the remaining 310
articles, filtering was performed to drop out
unrelated articles. An article was excluded if it was
not related to integration issues. For example, many
articles mentioned the used keywords in the abstract,
but focused on other issues than the integration with
other systems. The term “Integration” usually
appears in a definition of ERP, which is often
presented in the abstract to introduce the research
area. Also, if it occurred that the article just briefly
mentioned ERP and mainly focused on some other
subject, the article was left out. This filtering
reduced the total number of articles from 310 to 140.
In addition, for this report, due to the limited space
of a conference article, we chose to focus only on
journal articles, to reduce the number of articles to
be reported. This reduced the number from 140 to
56. The full data is available in
3.2.2 Categorization of Articles
The categorization was made by iteratively
analysing the 56 selected journal articles. The data
recorded from the related articles is shown in Table
Table 2: Data collected from articles.
Article Data Categorization Data
Publication Name
Publication Type
(journal, conference or
Publication Forum (if
Publication Year (1998-
Keywords (if available)
Authors Home Country
Scope of Integration
(internal, external or
internal & external)
Sub Category
(technological issues,
methodological issues,
quality issues, or extension
to ERP)
Research Method (systems
dynamics, literature study,
focus group, survey, delphi
study, constructive research,
case study, multiple case
From each publication, publication name,
publication type, name of the publication forum,
year and country were recorded. The categorization
was made by dividing articles to classes based on
their scope of integration: Internal, External or both
Internal and External. “Internal” deals with the
integration of applications, systems and devices
inside a company with no involvement of business
partners, or with no relation to business partners.
“External” means that ERP integrates with
information systems outside the organization or that
the integration aims at collaboration of business
partners or external stakeholders. If the article
discussed about both aspects, it was categorized
under “Internal & External.” In cases where the
specific target of integration (e. g. Advanced
Planning and Scheduling (APS) or the supply chain
management system) was mentioned, it was also
recorded. Furthermore, the related sub-categories
were identified. The sub-categories were created
inductively, by labeling conceptually the most
essential topic of interest of the article. The list of
sub-categories included Technological Issues,
Methodological Issues, Quality Issues, and
Extending ERP.
The research method used in the article was
recorded. It was not always clearly defined in the
article. In these cases the method was set either to
“literature study” in cases where article just
presented some ideas by relying on literature or
“constructive research” in cases where the article
proposed a construct based on the literature.
Figure 2: The number of journal publications on ERP
Figure 2 shows the number of ERP integration
related journal publications yearly. The year 2006
had the biggest number of publications. Since there
are no published articles in years 1998 and 1999, it
seems that the time period used as the search
constraint is suitable.
About half (28) of the publications address
methodological issues. These articles discuss about
processes and approaches of how integration was
carried out in a certain case. They also discuss about
critical success factors, challenges, management and
information sharing in ERP integration. Some of
these articles also proposed a conceptual research
framework. The second biggest subset (12 articles)
deals with technological issues. These articles
propose a technological approach to integration
typically by presenting an architectural solution or
by discussing about certain technologies used in
integration. 7 publications discuss about extending
ERP by identifying additional functionality that
could be provided by the ERP system, or by
proposing a new architecture for the ERP system.
Quality issues was selected as a sub-category if
the article addressed measureable characteristics of
ERP systems or benefits provided by the ERP
system related to integration. 9 articles addressed
this sub-category.
Table 4 lists the applied research methods used
in these articles. It is notable that most of the articles
are case studies, use constructive approach or are
based on literature only. In addition, a common
qualitative approach such as ethnography is
Table 3: A systematic map of ERP integration.
Internal External Internal & External ERP Characteristics
(Huang, 2002) CR
(Wiers, 2002) CS
(Wang et al., 2005) CR
(Ou-Yang and Hon, 2006) CR
(Hu and Wang, 2008) CR
(Wei et al., 2008) CR
(Oman, 2011) CR
(Siau and Messersmith, 2002)
(Margaria et al., 2010) CS
(Shafiei et al., 2012) CR
(Tao et al., 2004) CR
(Wang and Zhang,
2005) CR
Processes and Approaches:
(Soliman et al., 2001) GT
(Alshawi et al., 2004) CS
(Gayialis and Tatsiopoulos,
2004) CS
(Lam, 2005) CS
(Stefanou and Revanoglou,
2006) CS
(Xu et al., 2006) CR
(Metaxiotis, 2009) LS
(Lee et al., 2010) CS
(Worley et al., 2002) CR
(Yusuf et al., 2004) CS
(Zhu, 2006) S
(Momoh et al., 2010) LS
Processes and Approaches:
(Tarn et al., 2002) LS
(Ash and Burn, 2003) CS
(Búrca et al., 2005) CS
(Themistocleous and Corbitt,
2006) CS
(Koh et al., 2006) CS
(Toloie–Eshlaghi et al., 2011)
Information sharing:
(Kelle and Akbulut, 2005) LS
(Akkermans et al., 2003) DS
(Themistocleous, 2004) CS
(Bose et al., 2008) CS
Processes and
(Lee et al., 2003) LS
(Vathanophas, 2007)
(Akyuz and Rehan,
2009) LS
(Hvolby and
Trienekens, 2010) LS
(Cagliano et al., 2006)
Information sharing:
(Welker et al., 2008)
Quality Issues
(Kang et al., 2008) S
(Uwizeyemungu and Raymond,
2012) MCS
(Ranganathan and Brown,
2006) S
(Zheng et al., 2000) CS
(Ghani et al., 2009) CS
(Chung et al., 2011) LS
(Hwang and Grant,
2011) S
Characteristics of
(Turner and Chung,
2005) CR
(Baki and Çakar, 2005)
ERP Extension
New Functionality to
(Cardoso et al., 2004) LS
(Rom and Rohde, 2006)
(Koslowski and Strüker,
2011) SD
New Architecture for
(Metaxiotis et al., 2003)
(Frank, 2004) CR
(Ip et al., 2004) CR
(Lea et al., 2005) CR
completely missing from this population of journal
articles and grounded theory is applied only in one
Table 4: Applied research methods.
Applied Research Method
Number of
Systems Dynamics (SD) 1
Literature Study (LS) 11
Focus Group (FG) 1
Survey (S) 7
Delphi Study (DS) 1
Constructive Research (CR) 16
Case Study (CS), Multiple-case
study (MCS)
16, 2
Grounded Theory (GT) 1
The systematic map of ERP integration is
presented in table 3. The scope of integration,
related sub-category and applied research methods
of the articles are presented in the map. For research
methods, abbreviations from table 4 are used. The
next chapters walk through the main findings from
the found articles and interprets the systematic map
of ERP integration.
4.1 Technological Issues
A fair number of articles deal with technical issues
of integration. This is not surprising, as integration is
often seen as a technical matter. Articles addressing
technological issues aim at building flexible
solutions and architectures for integrating ERP with
other systems. Specific technologies such as SOA
and EAI are often used to aid the integration effort
(Margaria et al., 2010; Wang and Zhang, 2005).
Systems targeted by these implementation
frameworks include other information management
systems such as APS (Advanced Planning and
Scheduling), DSS (Design Support Systems) or
Product Data Management (PDM) (Hu and Wang,
2008; Ou-Yang and Hon, 2006; Wei et al., 2008).
The process of integrating ERP with APS is
presented, problems encountered, best practices in
integration as well as a functional architecture is
presented (Wiers, 2002). Also, an architecture to
integrate the DSS over SCMs and ERPs of multiple
organizations is proposed (Shafiei et al., 2012). In
manufacturing companies, there is often a need to
integrate ERP with robots on the execution level
through a MES (Manufacturing Execution System).
An approach to develop a distributed MES that
integrates ERP with operational systems at the lower
level is proposed (Huang, 2002). A process and
technology for ERP and MES integration is
presented (Oman, 2011).
Sometimes ERP integration targets both
manufacturing and planning systems. An approach
where data exchange is made internally and
externally between ERP, APS and MES is proposed
(Tao et al., 2004). Enabling technologies for ERP
and E-commerce technologies are briefly discussed
(Siau and Messersmith, 2002). Integration can also
target legacy systems and other systems of business
partners (Margaria et al., 2010; Wang and Zhang,
2005). Also, an approach for integrating distributed
relational database systems with different enterprise
systems is described (Wang et al., 2005).
The articles related to technological issues are
often made with no systematic research approach.
Instead, they are mostly relying on literature or they
are based on specific cases. Because of this, they
may not be fully applicable to other organizations.
In addition, the studies related to implementation do
not generally cover the systems accessed by external
stakeholders, such as SCM and e-commerce systems.
Moreover, mobile and web interfaces which are
important in modern ERPs are not discussed in
these articles at all.
4.2 Methodological Issues
Several studies address the integration challenges
caused by ERP systems that are generally seen as
difficulties in the integration with other applications.
There are challenges when interconnecting specific
ERP modules with other subsystems internally (Zhu,
2006). Also, implementing the interfaces between
systems and connecting ERP with non-ERP systems
can sometimes be a complex effort (Bose et al.,
2008; Momoh et al., 2010). Retrieving data from
legacy systems by building temporal interfaces can
be challenging (Yusuf et al., 2004). It has also been
identified that ERP systems sometimes prohibit the
building of additional systems that communicate
with it (Worley et al., 2002). It is argued that ERP
systems are not designed to cross organizational
boundaries, and additional technologies, such as EAI
are needed to cross-organizational integration
(Themistocleous, 2004). Because of the non-
modular and closed system architecture, insufficient
for an extended enterprise functionality, the current
ERP solutions cannot support SCM integration
efficiently (Akkermans et al., 2003).
Many studies report processes and approaches to
integrate ERP with different systems. The critical
success factors when integrating ERP with
computer-aided design and manufacturing
(CAD/CAM) systems has been evaluated (Soliman
et al., 2001). A process of building a decision
support system by integrating carefully selected
functions from SCM, GIS (Geographic Information
System) and ERP is presented (Gayialis and
Tatsiopoulos, 2004). In a case study of an ERP
project in healthcare, integration with various
different internal systems such as non-ERP
applications, web applications and mobile devices
was needed (Stefanou and Revanoglou, 2006). Two
literature-based studies discuss the integration of
ERPs and Knowledge Management (KM) systems
(Metaxiotis, 2009; Xu et al., 2006). An integration
methodology for PDM and ERP integration by
digital manufacturing is proposed (Lee et al., 2010).
EAI is sometimes used to integrate ERP with
other systems and ERP modules. A case study of an
EAI project where ERP was integrated with several
other internal systems is made (Lam, 2005). It is also
suggested that processes can be easily integrated
when combining ERP with EAI (Themistocleous
and Corbitt, 2006). An approach to integrate ERP
modules from different vendors by using EAI to
minimize the need of customization of ERP
packages is made (Alshawi et al., 2004). A high-
level comparison between ERP and EAI as means
for enterprise integration is proposed (Lee et al.,
ERP is strongly related to Supply Chain
Management and e-business. Relationships of ERP
and SCM have been studied (Cagliano et al., 2006;
Toloie–Eshlaghi et al., 2011). The integration
methods and strategies of ERP and SCM are
discussed (Koh et al., 2006; Tarn et al., 2002). An
approach for SMEs to extend their ERP system
across the supply chain is also presented (Búrca et
al., 2005). Requirements for an electronic supply
chain are studied and it is pointed out that ERP
should be first integrated with other internal
applications before forming an e-supply chain
(Akyuz and Rehan, 2009). ERP is also seen as a
backend system for e-business and an inter-
organizational ERP process model has been
constructed (Vathanophas, 2007). Existing e-
business frameworks and their relationships to
enterprise applications such as ERP and CRM is
made and a prediction of their future state and
challenges is proposed (Hvolby and Trienekens,
2010). A framework for E-business change is
proposed by stating that there are other than
technological matters, such as cultural and change
management issues that affect the integration in E-
business projects (Ash and Burn, 2003).
Two studies address information sharing and
cooperation. Internal and external information
sharing as an integrative practice to enable better
collaboration in supply chain planning is examined
(Welker et al., 2008). Also, a framework of
cooperation for supply chain partners is provided by
analyzing both enablers and obstacles in ERP
systems that facilitate supply chain information
sharing and cooperation (Kelle and Akbulut, 2005).
The studies addressing methodological issues
mainly focus on external integration of SCM and e-
business. Information sharing and collaboration
practices are not studied broadly. In addition, tools
used to aid integration efforts have not been
investigated widely. Many studies are based on a
single case study only. It could be useful to know
more about general challenges and success factors
that can be adopted in other situations as well.
Therefore, besides qualitative studies, there is a
need for industry-wide quantitative studies.
Moreover, the use of tools to aid integration efforts
is unrecognized by these studies.
4.3 Quality Issues
A number of studies that investigate certain quality
attributes of ERP systems or evaluate the
relationships between ERP benefits and integration
have been conducted from different viewpoints. A
framework is proposed to evaluate the potential of
ERP to e-business by considering flexibility,
modularity and integration of an ERP system
(Turner and Chung, 2005).
A linkage between ERP and SCM is studied.
Chung et al. (2011) suggest a framework to evaluate
ERPs capabilities to support SCM initiatives. Also,
benefits of integrating ERP with SCM is discussed
(Ghani et al., 2009; Zheng et al., 2000).
The effect of integration on performance is
examined. Kang et al. (2008) investigate how non-IS
integration (people, standardization and
centralization) affects performance. A multi-level
view of integration and its influence on ERP
performance is studied (Hwang and Grant, 2011).
Also, the benefits of ERPs with a greater physical
scope have been investigated (Ranganathan and
Brown, 2006).
The ERP package selection criteria is studied
with a conclusion that the system’s fit with partners’
systems, cross-module integration and compatibility
between other systems are the top criteria when
selecting ERP systems (Baki and Çakar, 2005).
This category contains the most quantitative
studies conducted on ERP integration issues in the
population. Integration is generally considered as
beneficial to enterprises. These studies also suggest
the role of ERP as a backbone of an extended
business system. The non-IS perspective of
integration proposed by Kang et al. (2008) could be
studied also with qualitative methods, such as
grounded theory and case studies.
4.4 Extending ERP
This category of articles discusses the need for
additional functionality for ERP systems and
completely new approaches for ERP system
The similarities and differences of ERP and
workflow management systems are identified and it
is noted that ERP vendors have been starting to add
workflow capabilities on their products (Cardoso et
al., 2004). The relationships between ERP and
Strategic Enterprise Management (SEM) systems are
investigated and their integration is proposed (Rom
and Rohde, 2006). A knowledge-based system for
production-scheduling as an ERP module is
proposed (Metaxiotis et al., 2003). It has been
suggested that an on-demand ERP could provide a
sustainability benchmarking service and also other
services based on the ERP data (Koslowski and
Strüker, 2011).
An ERP system architecture, based on re-
configurable characteristics of material objects and
financial objects, and having the advantage of
workflow re-configurability and re-usability is
proposed (Ip et al., 2004). An architecture for
integrating distributed ERP systems with e-
commerce systems is presented (Frank, 2004). Also,
a prototype based on a multi-agent ERP to achieve
enterprise wide integration is suggested (Lea et al.,
These articles address diverse topics, but they all
identify the need of extending the functionality of
ERPs. New architectures for ERP systems are
proposed because of the need for more flexible ERP
system architecture where other systems can easily
be integrated. ERP as an on-demand service is
addressed by one article only (Koslowski and
Strüker, 2011). The future studies could investigate
how the requirement for on-demand ERP integration
affects integration.
When comparing the results of this study with the
previous literature reviews of ERP systems, some
evolution in ERP integration research can be
Esteves and Pastor (2001) found out a set of
articles dealing with connecting ERPs with other
systems and identified that these articles were
mainly technology-oriented by focusing on
development of interfaces with other systems, web
technologies and integration of CRM modules. In
their updated literature review, the authors
highlighted the need the need of more research on
ERP and SCM integration and saw mobile
technologies, on-demand and open source ERPs as
future trends (Esteves and Bohorquez, 2007). If
comparing our findings with these observations, it
can be seen that methodological issues have been
increasingly targeted, even more than technical
issues. Moreover, there are studies that address ERP
and SCM integration approaches. However, our
study did not find examples of using mobile
technologies in integration. Also, how open source
and on-demand ERPs affect integration issues
remains unclear.
Botta-genoultaz et al. (2005) identified only few
articles dealing with the relationship and integration
between ERP and SCM. Our study pointed out the
lack of technological solutions regarding this
integration, but instead methodological issues have
been investigated to some extent.
Moon (2007) identified a set of articles dealing
with ERP extension and observed a further
expansion of ERP’s scope as a future trend.
According to authors, companies are considering
extensions to their ERP systems towards e-business,
SCM, CRM, MES, supplier relationship
management, and business intelligence systems. The
authors also found some articles explaining enabling
technologies and how to expand the functionalities
of ERP. Our study brings out a more detailed
viewpoint of how integration issues with these
systems have been studied.
Addo-Tenkorang and Helo (2011) also identified
the extended nature of ERP and proposed that future
ERPs are based on more advanced technologies,
such as SOA, web services, Web 2.0 and they state
that future ERPs will be delivered in SaaS (Software
as a Service) model. There is no doubt that ERP
products will be enhanced with more advanced
technologies. However, we believe that instead of
technical issues, methods, tools, and coordination to
manage the integration in future ERP systems will
become more relevant than technological matters.
5.1 Limitations of Study
This study has some limitations. First, because the
study focused only on journal articles, conference
articles and their contribution to this area have been
left out. We have, however, collected and analyzed
also all conferences articles that met the query
criteria. The full data table is available in Second, because of the
general nature of the term “integration”, some
studies may have been filtered out, if authors have
used some other terms, such as “interconnecting
systems.” Integration is a commonly used term
which is often not well-defined. Third, the set of
related articles may not be fully complete. Some
databases such as Google Scholar were left out
because of the limitations of their search
functionality. However, we believe that the selected
databases and their query results provide a very
representative view of previous research.
5.2 Future Research
As ERP systems are becoming more complex, there
is also a more urgent need to solve the integration
issues in ERP projects. The concept of an ERP
community has been defined as a tactical group
consisting of an ERP vendor, an ERP consultant and
the implementing organization (Sammon and Adam,
2002). We believe that this community is more
complex, consisting of multiple stakeholders,
including vendors of existing and interfacing
systems, customers, business partners and also other
project-specific groups. There is a need to study
ERP projects from the ERP stakeholder network
perspective to investigate how integration issues are
effectively solved in this network; what kind of
tools, methods, and processes are used to aid the
integration and how are the people collaborating. By
examining these networks it is possible to uncover
new research knowledge of ERP integration, its
issues and their solutions. Both qualitative and
quantitative research is needed, first to find out the
emerging issues and then to validate the
presumptions. This area of research is also very
suitable for design science (Peffers et al., 2007) and
action research (Iivari and Venable, 2009)
methodologies, currently not systematically applied
by the studies in the population.
ERP is adopted by many enterprises today. A
modern ERP system not only integrates the core
internal functions of one company but also integrates
to the business network and is accessed by multiple
stakeholders, including customers and business
This paper mapped the existing literature of ERP
integration by searching articles from scientific
literature databases. We searched journal articles
related to ERP integration issues. A total of 56
articles were analyzed further. The articles were
categorized based on their scope of integration
(internal, external or both) and also by using four
sub-categories: technological issues, methodological
Issues, quality issues and extending ERP.
Although it is often difficult, ERP integration is
necessary due to ERP’s role as a backbone of the
enterprise business system. According to our
analysis, the research that aims at solving
technological issues is often conducted with no
rigorous and well-defined research method.
Moreover, the observed research on technology
deals mostly with internal manufacturing and
decision making systems, and lacks the focus on
SCM and e-commerce that are accessed by external
parties. The device aspect with mobility and Internet
has not been widely considered either. The
methodological issues that have been investigated
focus mostly on e-business and SCM integration, but
mainly with single cases only. The use of tools and
collaboration practices are quite unrecognized by the
current studies. The most comprehensive research on
ERP integration has been done on quality issues by
examining the ERP characteristics and benefits of
Even though ERP products have improved over
the years, there still seems to be significant issues
with ERP projects. A fair amount of research has
been conducted on ERP systems, so this makes us
wonder why – with better products and a huge
knowledge base – these projects still fail frequently.
One reason for this could be the more complex
environment and unrecognized area of research – the
ERP stakeholder network. The future research
should consider various stakeholders in the ERP
development network and study how integration
issues are solved within this network.
This study was funded by Academy of Finland grant
#259454. We would like to thank our colleague
Andrey Maglyas for his constructive comments on
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