Bernie Farkas is an Assistant Professor of Information and Technology Management at the Sykes College of Business at The University of Tampa. Before completing his P.h.D. and joining the University, he worked in various positions for more than 40 years (enterprise architect, developer, network designer, analyst, project manager, etc.). Professor Farkas is now responsible for the undergraduate major in management information science and teaches a mandatory introductory course where ERPsim is used. Because he has his level 1 ERPsim certification, he also manages ERPsim for the entire faculty: he registers students, manages games, and handles the backend of the simulation when needed. He also does qualitative research with a focus on technology and IT governance.
Using ERPsim in Class
ERPsim is used in every section of the Introduction to Management Information Systems class at The University of Tampa, where roughly 350 to 400 students are taught every semester. The game is also used from time to time in Supply Chain, as well as in Finance courses, and those of the minor in Supply Chain and Finance.
The courses using ERPsim focus on two main aspects of the simulator: Students learn about data, how it is transformed and visualized, and the underlying processes of an organization. In the process part of the class, students draw business process flow diagrams of the simulation based on BPMN principles.
Professor Farkas and his colleagues use all of the ERPsim teaching material in those classes. They like that the Job Aid shows the SAP workflow rather than the underlying business process so that his students cannot simply copy them when drawing their BPMN diagrams.
He usually teaches 19 to 20-year-old undergraduate students who aren't familiar with enterprise-level software. For example, they do not understand why the user interface of the simulator (SAP in this case) is not looking as good as the latest app on their mobile phones. One of the goals in those classes is to make them understand that an organization only has limited funds and that decisions on whether to improve the front or the back end of the solution have to be made (Supply Chain algorithms are usually chosen over beautiful graphics). Using BPMN diagramming, he teaches them about the role of ERPs like SAP, computers, and software in an organization.
The learning objective we are trying to achieve in the course is to expose students to enterprise-level software and to gain an understanding of why computer systems are needed by organizations. Where do they fit in? How would you use them? [Using ERPsim] is a very hands-on way of demonstrating the use of a computer to make an organization function properly. [...] It's a concrete way to demonstrate where the computer is used, how it's being used, and where its value comes from.
His goal with ERPsim is to expose students to enterprise-level software, where this software fits in, and how to use it. With ERPsim, he has a hands-on tool to demonstrate the use of computers and software.
When facing issues, he wants his students to think about the problem, not the questions and how to use the organizational processes to find the causes.
According to Professor Farkas, one of the benefits of ERPsim is that it gives his students an insight into how information flows in a concrete visual way. The simulator shows the activities that are happening and what data is passing through. He teaches his students that some work can't be done by software and that computers have a limit to the value they can add to a company.
Even though he doesn't competitively use ERPsim, he also likes that it forces his students to learn about the communication aspects of working in a real organization where teamwork is key (even when using Zoom), i.e., they discover that ERPsim provides needed information rather than a fellow student especially when team members are asked to not sit next to each other in the classroom or are connected in a Zoom Break-out Room.