The complementary use of IS technologies to support flexibility and integration needs in budgeting
Abstract: In business controllers’ work on budgeting, considered as a classic decision-making process in organisations, it is consistently indicated that enterprise resource planning (ERP) systems, business intelligence (BI) and spreadsheets are commonly applied to assist the process. An academic research contribution on this topic is few. Most available research concentrates on ERP systems but it mentions neither BI nor spreadsheets. A further review of budgeting literature designates that budgeting characterises both flexibility and integration needs to accomplish decision-making. Given the limited understanding as to how IS technologies are used in budgeting, this dissertation aims to describe and explain how business controllers can complementarily use IS technologies to support the flexibility and integration needs in a budgeting process. Two research questions addressed are: RQ1- how do business controllers perceive IS technologies in relation to the need for both flexibility and integration in budgeting? And RQ2 - why do business controllers use IS technologies to support the need for both flexibility and integration in budgeting? The analysis employs conceptual ideas pertaining to structuration theory. Empirical data was collected through interviews, observations and documentations with twenty-six business controllers in sixteen companies in Thailand. It is concluded that business controllers perceive IS technologies to enable and constrain their flexibility and integration needs in budgeting. Spreadsheets are the main IS technology used in budgeting despite an existent of ERP systems and BI because of the flexibility that spreadsheets offer. Business controllers use spreadsheets to support both the flexibility and integration domains but they use ERP systems and BI to support the integration function alone. It is necessary for business controllers to rethink their IS technology use practice because spreadsheets cause errors and frauds. The insights generated create a framework to describe how the three IS technologies should be complementarily used to support specific budgeting activities in respect of the flexibility and integration needs.
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