Mobile solutions for ERP are no longer a fancy add-on – they’re fundamental to the modern work environment.
Mobility: the evolution
The world of mobile business solutions has evolved dramatically over the past fifteen to twenty years. We’ve moved on a long way from the days where certain users – usually warehouse operatives, sales reps and drivers making deliveries – used handheld devices to record their activities and uploaded their data to the main system every so often.
The typical ERP user in 2015 has very high expectations of enterprise software. They’re very familiar with the internet and regularly use tablets and smartphones: consequently they expect an ERP system to provide them with a similar user experience. It’s fair to say that ERP systems haven’t traditionally been easy to use but leading ERP software providers are reacting to the change in user expectations by improving user interfaces and delivering mobile solutions that support the modern worker.
Mobility: current trends
Workers are now increasingly likely to spend time away from their desks or out of the office, but still need to be connected to the rest of the organisation. They expect access to email and the internet on various devices and expect to access the ERP system using the same devices - regardless of their location. They expect the convenience of dealing with purchase order approvals, holiday requests and other tasks while on a train, in a taxi or at an airport. Even while in the office they expect access to the ERP system on phones and tablets during meetings. Most ERP vendors now provide either mobile apps (on at least one of the main mobile platforms: iOS, Windows Phone and Android) or browser-based access to support common activities and reporting.
Some workers may spend all their time working away from the office yet need access to the system to do their jobs. Users delivering services to customers (such as field service engineers) or recording data for tracking or billing purposes will need to record data as they work and have instant access to the information they need.
Of course mobile solutions of various kinds have been available for years, but the new generation of mobile solutions from ERP vendors have the advantage of delivering tightly-integrated solutions from a single vendor. Best of breed mobile solution providers will still have their place of course, especially where highly-tailored solutions are required.
Mobility: the benefits
Enterprises adopting mobile solutions typically see benefits in terms of improved access to data, more efficient processes and reduced costs. Opportunities to reduce costs are particularly relevant where mobile solutions remove paper-based processes and eliminate the need for staff to re-enter data collected on a paper form by someone else. Giving users faster access to the data they need and providing users with the ability to get things done while on the move (rather than having to wait until they’re back at the desk) can translate into slicker processes, faster reaction times and improved levels of service.
This Blog was written by John Donagher, Principal Consultant at Lumenia. If you would like further information on mobile solutions for ERP or on any other aspect of ERP please send an e-mail to John Donagher.