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Professor Harufumi Ueda

Harufumi Ueda
Harufumi Ueda

Former IT/ERP Promotion Manager
Sanyo Electric Co., Ltd.
Professor Harufumi Ueda has 32 years practical experience in the IT-related sectors of large electric manufacturers, Sanyo Electric Co., Ltd.(currently Panasonic Corporation). Professor Ueda speaks about IT applied to business management planning.
Japanese Companies Lag Behind in the Introduction of IT Business Management Systems
-How much progress are Japanese companies making with business management systems that use IT?
In the US and Europe, it is common for companies to introduce an IT ERP (Enterprise Resource Planning) business management system to manage whole-company resources, such as people, products, money and information. From an IT specialist's perspective, ERP is a fantastic mechanism, and US and European companies make good use of the system in their business management. On the other hand, in Japan, only a handful of major companies have fully introduced ERP systems. Yet there is a need to match up operations with the ERP system for Japanese companies to adopt an international strategy, so there are an increasing number of companies, including small and mid-size companies, that are thinking ahead toward introducing the system.
What kinds of people are involved in the ERP system?
-What kind of skills are required of engineers involved with the ERP system?
In system construction, they pursue the most efficient method to conducting operations, with a collaborative effort between operation managers and IT specialists. If operations are customer-oriented, the sales department will prioritize on how to supply products to stores in the most efficient way, and the IT specialist constructs the system required to do this. However, currently, how to supply customers with products while remaining conscious of factory optimization is growing more important. In essence, it's not about optimizing every single operational practice and each individual department, but about the growing need to pursue optimization for the relevant organization as a whole. To develop this kind of system, there is a need to not only under efficiency, but have a perspective of the total situation of manufacturing, sales and customer relations. IT technicians are needed to have the ability to understand management of the company as a whole.
Cultivating Consulting Skills
-How are management skills in IT technicians cultivated at KCGI?
Students at KCGI attain the skills to consult and understand the flow of operations. Introducing ERP is required adjustment with all facets of operations, and therefore people with the skills to consult and propose improvements to operations are extremely useful for companies. KCGI has introduced SAP Corp's ERP system as a means to educate and provide hands-on practice for students. Students will gain practical skills in ERP, SCM and CRM, in particular, through the development of SAP ERP in the Career-Strengthening Modules.
However, simply developing and using SAP ERP alone is for the SE level. At KCGI, not only do students learn each technology, but we also chiefly teach them how to apply these technologies to business. Through the operation and development of SAP ERP, students will consider how ERP works and how it can work to support business operations while they also learn methods to achieve a framework that supports SCM and CRM. In addition, the students will gain experience applying ERP in operational reforms by engaging with some representative SAP ERP operational scenarios.
Becoming a CIO and Leading Company Management
-KCGI aim to cultivate the Specialists in IT field such as project managers and CIOs (Chief Information Officer). Can you tell us about these jobs?
The position of CIO hasn't become firmly established in Japan just yet. It's often referred to as 'Business Management Planning'. The CIO does delegate each activity to the project managers, but he or she will judge what kind of return can be expected with IT investment and what kind of impact will be made on business management. Compared to Europe and the US, CEOs in Japan are often quite unfamiliar with IT, so the CIO in a Japanese company will be also required to explain IT issues to the CEO. The communication skills to explain IT (ICT) issues to someone who doesn't understand IT will be necessary. In any case, there is a great shortage of CIOs in the Japanese industry right now, and if there are no more new CIOs, Japanese companies will not be able to keep pace with European and American companies in the proper use of IT (ICT) in their business.
Matching up the ERP system with the International Financial Reporting Standards (IFRS) is gaining attention recently. One theme is the syncing of accounting years between the headquarters of Japanese companies in Japan and their branch offices in Europe and the US. For example, the development costs are handled as incidental expenses in Japan, however, they are listed as assets in the IFRS, and are an entirely different expense item; therefore making changes to the system in Japan is more difficult. Another issue is internal control. To prevent a string of accounting scandals and non-compliant practices, Japan's legal and regulatory regime—J-SOX, fashioned after the US Sarbanes-Oxley Act, is often examined. It's in this way that the accounting processing methods of Japan will be changing, and quite drastically. At KCGI, we also cover these kinds up-to-date themes.