Coca-Cola Company is a market leader in beverages worldwide. The company has 143 production facilities and employs close to 72,000 people globally. The company has 55,000 vehicles, 2.4 million coolers, beverage dispensers and vending machines (Coca-Cola Enterprises Embraces Microsoft Software-plus-Services to Unify Its Workforce, 2009). However, with the increase in completion, its employees are on the move to meet customers thus allowing for efficient information flow. To join forces with its staffs for increased productivity, better information flow and effective customer engagement, changes are needed, as majority of its staffs spend more time travelling for meeting and meeting customer demands thus the need for enterprise resource planning (Coca-Cola Enterprises Embraces Microsoft Software-plus-Services to Unify Its Workforce, 2009).
Enterprise Resource Planning
An Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) system represents an all inclusive business management system that covers diverse functional areas (Production, Human Resource management, Logistics, Accounting and Finance) of a specific venture. ERP in this case joins flow of information to organization’s operational processes, thereby maximizing resource use. The ERP system promises a unified database, application and use interfaces for all sub sectors like manufacturing, finance, sales and distribution of an organization, which were initially independent of each other (Umble, Haft, & Umble, 2003).
An ERP requires complex information technology infrastructure for its success. Therefore, it is impossible to undertake ERP without such structures in place. It is reported that traditional versions of ERP systems were only compatible with large mainframe computers. However, with the invention of relational databases, ERP systems started to exploit three client server architectures. The other enabling technologies include: work groups, work flows, electronic data interchanges, data warehousing, internet, intranet and group wares (Umble et al., 2003).
Features of an ERP System
For a system to qualify as an ERP solution, some important characteristics are necessary. A good ERP system, first, needs to be elastic to changes in organizational demands.
Secondly, a system must possess open system of architecture. Under these, modules can be detached severally as required without disturbing the remaining models. In addition, ERP system should support several hardware platforms in enterprises with different collecting systems in addition to third party clients.
Third, a system must have the power to support different organizational activities and must also suite diverse business operations. In addition, the system should not only be confined to the boundaries of the organization, but also support online connectivity to subsidiary business entities of the parent company (Brazel & Dang, 2008).
Finally, the system should have an excellent business processes collections that are in use globally, because an enterprise resource planning system uses its specific logic on the strategy, organization and culture of an organization (Brazel & Dang, 2008).
Benefits of ERP to Coca-Cola Company
First, as a result of implementing ERP system, Coca-Cola Company now has a business wide intranet connection. This has supported its worldwide communication and collaboration of its corporate strategies. In addition, it supported direct communication between company CEOs and junior employees, increased education through corporate social responsibility posts. It is reported that within only two fortnights of sharing, the demand for focused business priority portals (Coca-Cola Enterprises Embraces Microsoft Software-plus-Services to Unify Its Workforce, 2009; O’Leary, 2004).
Secondly, ERP implementation at Coca-Cola has helped in increasing its effectiveness with distant team members. In fact, in any company workers need connection to company headquarters and to other sub units. However, using ERP saves employees’ time and travel costs thus making connection easier. In addition, the use of ERP system is easier for employees and it is easily adopted by most people (O’Leary, 2004).
Third, since ERP integrates many functions like accounting, procurement and human resources into one, it allows accounts personnel easier management of payment processing and invoicing. This helps in boosting the firm’s productivity while eliminating overreliance on personnel for such operations. This fits well with company, a company with over 55,000 employees worldwide. Such cost savings would be used in increasing the company’s profitability (Coca-Cola Enterprises Embraces Microsoft Software-plus-Services to Unify Its Workforce, 2009; O’Leary, 2004).
Fourth, implementation of ERP reduces paper work through the provision of online formats for inquiring and entering information. Such costs saving initiatives would be large in global companies like Coca-Cola. In addition, the system increases the level of efficiency in information posting as it allows for daily entry of information.
Fifth, the use of ERP system improves accuracy levels in the capturing of information with complex contents thus facilitating easier comparison. In addition, it provides a one stop customer databases, which facilitates efficiency of response, follow ups of customer complaints, while supporting the analysis of changes in the market place (O’Leary, 2004)
Coca-Cola Company operates in different continents with varying taxation laws. Therefore, use of ERP system supports international operations through its invoicing schemes and diverse tax structures, multiple currencies and diverse languages installed (Coca-Cola Enterprises Embraces Microsoft Software-plus-Services to Unify Its Workforce, 2009; O’Leary, 2004).
ERP implementation takes a long duration of time and many learning experiences. Within Coca-Cola Company, ERP implementation strategy followed five major phases. These included: designing phase, implementation phase, stabilization and building phase, continuous improvement and testing phase and the transformation phase. Designing phase involves project planning and charter revising; implementation phase includes activities like analysis of system requirement and reporting needs. In the third phase, prototyping and e-learning and data management planning are undertaken. In the fourth phase, regression, integration, standard and performance tests are undertaken. In the final stage, end user training and promotion of customized menus are completed (Enterprise Resource Planning Implementation, 2011).
First, it is noted that company directors were in need of a forum to promote company policies to their juniors. Therefore, with the introduction of enterprise resource planning system, all junior employees were now able to communicate directly with their senior directors on issues that impact the progress of the company. Secondly, the company increased its corporate social responsibility from the cost savings realized from using enterprise resource planning system. These activities originated from employees communication with directors and thus were more relevant to the specific needs of the communities (Coca-Cola Enterprises Embraces Microsoft Software-plus-Services to Unify Its Workforce, 2009; Barker and Frolick, 2009).
It is reported that the company had different platforms with different integration points. The information technologists were also expected to be knowledgeable in all these platforms, which was a tedious exercise and costly in terms of training. However, after the implementation of enterprise resource planning system, all sectors of the organization were now connected to each other. And with this, high levels of efficiencies in the operations of the company were recorded (Coca-Cola Enterprises Embraces Microsoft Software-plus-Services to Unify Its Workforce, 2009).
As the market place had still competition from other products, the company needed a way to integrate its customers and suppliers into the system. It is acknowledged that the company had a system which was limiting innovation and collaboration initiatives. However, with the ERP implementation, sales teams were still able to attend meetings, while undertaking their sales duties with ease and this greatly reduced response time to customer questions. In addition, customers and suppliers had easy time communication with the company personnel or directors and this improved the efficiency levels (Coca-Cola Enterprises Embraces Microsoft Software-plus-Services to Unify Its Workforce, 2009; Barker and Frolick, 2009).
How Sustainable Are the Results
I believe that the result of ERP implementation at Coca-Cola Company was sustainable. First, as a result of implementation, most employees did not require any further training on its usages and this increased the level of savings for the firm. This was made possible through easily available Microsoft software which was accessible at home of every employee (Coca-Cola Enterprises Embraces Microsoft Software-plus-Services to Unify Its Workforce, 2009).
Secondly, with excellent consultation and discussions with customers, directors created open blog sites for internal employees to give their views. These open forums increased sales leads in competitive markets, promoted innovation and product packaging to meet customer demands. In this sense, it saves the company money for research on customer demands. In addition, this system promoted employees training on company’s corporate social responsibilities (Coca-Cola Enterprises Embraces Microsoft Software-plus-Services to Unify Its Workforce, 2009).
Also, as a result of ERP implementation, employees and customers were able to share point sites focused on existing business opportunities and customer demands. In these circumstances, the system allowed the company to increase its footprint and sales in all areas. Therefore, it is believable that the results of ERP implementation are sustainable in the long run.
Barker, T., & Frolick, M. N. (2009). ERP Implementation Failure: A Case Study. Web.
Brazel, J. F., & Dang, L. (2008).The Effect of ERP System Implementations on the Management of Earnings and Earnings Release Dates. Journal of Information Systems, 22 (2), 1–21. Web.
Enterprise Resource Planning Implementation. (2011). Web.
O’Leary, D. (2004).Enterprise Resource Planning Systems: An Empirical Analysis of the Benefits. Journal of Emerging Technologies in Accounting, 1, 63-72. Web.
Umble, E. J., Haft, R. R., & Umble, M. M. (2003). Enterprise Resource Planning: Implementation Procedures and Critical Success Factors. European Journal of Operational Research, 146, 241–257. Web.