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University Alliances (UA) Research spotlights professor David Douglas from the University of Arkansas.

The goal of this series is consistent with the goal of the UA Spotlight Series, to exchange insights with UA professors, students, researchers and others linked to universities from around the world.


Tell us a bit about yourself.

I am a University Professor of Information Systems in the Sam M. Walton College of Business at the University of Arkansas located in Fayetteville, Arkansas. Fayetteville has a population exceeding 70,000 and the University expects more than 24,000 students for the fall 2012 semester.

My undergraduate, masters and Ph.D. are in Industrial Engineering but I have been a faculty member in the College of Business for most of my academic career. I serve as the SAP Faculty Coordinator and Director of Enterprise Systems for the College. I teach undergraduate courses but mostly graduate courses in our Professional Master of Information Systems, which is a blended program of face-to-face and online components. I also teach an MBA class with emphasis on enterprise systems and analytics.

Our family farm where I grew up is near Bentonville, Arkansas—the headquarters for Wal-Mart and where I graduated from high school. My wife Stacey and I now live in Elm Springs, a small town near Fayetteville where we designed and had a house built on a 2.5 acre lot—we moved into the new house in 2007. We greatly enjoy traveling and I have taught courses in Australia, China, France, Greece, and Vietnam.

Share a bit about your SAP and UAC history.

The Information Systems Department began developing its ERP curriculum (with SAP as the software) in 2000. It took several years and the efforts of many for our ERP curriculum to evolve into three undergraduate and three master level courses -- ERP I, ERP II and ERP III.

ERP I’s focus is on processes and integration, ERP II covers configuration and ERP III focuses on modification and business intelligence. Initially, we developed our own materials for the ERP II and ERP III courses and were self-hosted. We are now dual-hosted; we use the UCC at Chico to host our ERP I courses and we self-host our ERP II and ERP III courses. All ERP I courses include the manufacturing ERPsim simulation game.  A number of other SAP University Alliances schools use our SAP BW system for their classes. Our SAP implementation runs in Linux on an IBM z10 with DB2 as the database.    

Currently, the ERP I and ERP II courses carry a business college course designation instead of an information systems course designation. We believe these courses are as important for all business majors as they are for information systems (IS) majors.

Enrollment in both the ERP I and ERP II courses at the undergraduate level are much higher for non-IS majors. Further, students that pass all three of the ERP courses earn a SAP endorsed ERP Certificate.

Further, we have an Enterprise Resource Planning minor at the undergraduate level which includes taking the three ERP courses. We have great industry support for our ERP program and students that take these courses are in great demand when they graduate. Gary Cooper, CIO at Tyson Foods, made a short video recommending students take the course. The video is on our website as well as the UAC website.

Several years ago, Dr. Paul Cronan began promoting ERP research including use of the ERPsim simulation game. We have developed an on-line instrument to collect pre-post self-assessed responses for perception of attitudes and learning. Using this instrument, data has been collected for several years for all our ERP I classes. Some other universities have used the instrument for collecting research data.

A forth-coming Journal of Computer Information Systems article by Cronan and Douglas, “A Student ERP Simulation Game: A Longitudinal Study”, details the student results and research findings.

Further, we have collected research data with employees from several varied industries. Moreover, we are expanding the research to include the cross-culture impact on attitudes and learning as well as have incorporated the culture dimension into the data collection instrument. We plan to include universities in Asia, Africa and South America in this research effort. Universities have been contacted in each of these continents for possible research cooperation.

What do you like most about the University Alliances Community on the new Jive platform? How does this help/improve your regular UAC activities?

A network of faculty teaching SAP plus announcements coupled with the new platform results in an exceptionally valuable resource. Faculty can extract a variety of items that they can use directly in their classes or modify to meet their needs. The site also provides a great source for upcoming events and in general helps us keep abreast of SAP vision and direction.

How can or do your students benefit from the UAC?

The most direct benefit for students centers on the Career Resource Center where they learn about new career opportunities. We regularly discuss with students the importance of ERP for career opportunities and the companies that hire students with ERP knowledge and SAP skills. This is reinforced when industry speakers do presentations for classes and at advisory board meetings.