Al RomanArticles

Mobile Apps in the ERP world

By August 19, 2013 No Comments

ERP has been a revolutionary trend that companies have been lapping over time. However being able to access services anywhere and anytime has become a requirement in the modern world. Mobile ERP is all about being able to access the various services and functions of ERP software through means of mobile devices like Tabs or Smart phones.
There are certain factors which have made mobility in ERP a necessity. One of them is service improvements as in better interaction with customers & existing business applications. Another major factor is better Return on Investment (ROI) by implementing mobile applications.
The drawback of Traditional ERP Applications is the lack of user engagement. ERP applications have for long been diminished to back office usage. Because of this the ERP deployments have failed with users complaining of severe usability issues. Thus lack of user acceptance in the lifecycle of an ERP solution is the single biggest deterrent to delivering value through an ERP.
So, what does it take for Companies to use mobility in an ERP system to extend is use?
The following steps every company implementing an ERP needs to follow to ensure the success of their system.
Take the time to develop a purpose-based mobile ERP strategy.
“There shouldn’t be many limitations to the ways businesses can extend the value of their ERP systems through mobility; however, in order to achieve the optimal value, it’s necessary to start with a strategy. A lot of organizations are jumping on the bandwagon of mobility and implementing solutions without a clear purpose or strategy in mind. Unless you have got cash and time to burn, try to avoid this ‘shoot until we hit something’ approach,”
Craft a strategy based on users and user needs.
“A strategic approach includes researching the mobile needs and benefits of three key enterprise audiences: employees, vendors, and customers. It also includes exploring some fundamental topics like security, scalability, and innovation. Such considerations may show that delivery and warehouse systems, CRM, and business intelligence are all areas that are ripe for mobile solutions. But let the strategy drive the conclusions.”
“Not all ERP features should be mobile. But thanks to the evolution of technology, we can assume that ERPs will improve mobile transactions. Generally, mobile apps are easier to use when you don’t have to enter much data or display an intensive data dashboard, and when they are designed for ‘outdoor users’ and ‘occasional users.’ That’s why mobile apps are relevant for time and expenses reporting, sales, and order entry, with dedicated information related to the type of user connected”

Mirror your company’s operational reality.
“One of the key goals of ERP is to process transactions and issue recommendations that drive meaningful operational value. To successfully achieve this goal, an ERP system has to mirror or prototype the company’s operating reality. Mobile technologies empower timely, accurate data capture and analysis by extending the enterprise to places that are not easily supported by workstations, including: warehouses, shop floor, field service, and off-site sales. As organizations become increasingly dispersed, remote, and virtual, I expect businesses to increasingly rely on mobile solutions to ensure that ERP data accurate reflects operating realities.”
Enable mobile devices to function as workstations.
“It is important to ensure a point of reference. So you have an ERP system, it has workstations and users who simply process insert, update, or view queries. The key to effective mobility when implementing ERP software is to ensure the user understands the mobile device is just another tool the user must understand as a workstation.”
“It is not the mobility as the tool, but the mobile device. Once the device is properly configured, it can be used as easily as a desktop computer. This need not necessarily be while on the road. It can be on the shop floor as well, where the updates, corrections, and demands can be entered by the supervisor who is making his rounds on the shop floor.”
Educate end-users on the importance of securing company data.
“Mobile devices can really speed up processes on the shop floor as well as on the road. Other than making sure all your ducks are in a row with the device and ERP, make sure your staff is aware that the security of the device is most important to ensure that the security and integrity of the company’s database remain intact.”
Serve the needs of those outside the organization—the customers.
“Mobility in the enterprise is not new; it’s the prevalence of high-power mobile devices with a low barrier of deploying applications that is new. This puts ‘(almost) always-connected’ computing devices into the hands of people inside and outside of the organization. One specific pattern that has a lot of legs is customer self-service. For example, auto-insurance claim initiation by policyholders has the potential to speed up the claims-adjudication process, reducing costs, improving process speed, and (hopefully) improving the total customer experience.”
“Mobility is a new way for us to offer value to our customers because it increases worker productivity and enhances collaboration both inside and outside the company.”
Take advantage of the timeliness and accuracy of mobility.
“Mobile technologies provide opportunities to ensure that MRP makes recommendations based on both timely and accurate data. From a timeliness perspective, handheld bar-code scanners give companies opportunities to record inventory movements as soon as they happen. From an accuracy perspective, mobile technologies provide opportunities to minimize data recording errors. Many businesses first record material and labor movements on paper, then transfer those records to a system later in the day (perhaps at the end of a shift). This type of double-entry system is not only inefficient and delayed, it creates risks of data entry errors.”
Today’s companies are evolving at a very fast rate and are too widely distributed to make use of complicated, unwieldy ERP solutions. What a Modern company needs is an ERP solution that can offer all the advantages of ERP performance while maintaining simplicity and flexibility in a fully integrated, cost-effective, end-to-end solution. Modern companies require the solution has to be modern and support mobility features to enable employees to work flawlessly anywhere, anytime
It may seem that mobile application for ERP may not provide as good a solution as a traditional ERP application does. But with changing times, as always, one who would surely stand to benefit the most in the long run would be the one who will dare “Put business in Motion”.
Al Roman Technologies LLC, is a business partner of Sage Pastel Middle East, publishers of world class accounting and business software. We not only sell, but implement and support, Sage Pastel solutions throughout the Middle East.