Monday, June 23, 2014

ERP Mobility

Your customers are mobile, your sales people are mobile, everyone is talking about the cloud, it must be heaven.  The reality is we are on the ground and there are times when we are connected and when we are not.  Is your Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) solution running reliable like a sports car on the freeway or is it like an old farm truck with rust, bolted-on additions and constant repairs?

“If it ain't broke, don't fix it” – Bert Lance.

Not broke is not the same thing as fixed.  It means you are getting by.  Simply working is not the same as efficient.  There is a difference when you drive a new car versus a slightly used or old bucket of bolts.  ERP solutions start out shiny and new.  They get a little wear and the physical equipment gets a little older.  You keep up on the maintenance, at least initially when it was bundled in the purchase, and now it is just another line item in your overhead that you wish was not so big.  There are more and more mechanics.  There is more confusion as to where the actual problems exist as the symptoms are misleading.  There are too many aftermarket or third party add-ons and no one source is responsible for the entire solution, except you.

Add to all this mass of confusion the need to mobilize your salesforce.  What?  They have smart phones and we send them out on the road, aren’t they already mobile?  They call us to find out where to go next, what the customer owes, and inventory availability.  We just wish they would actually go where and when they are scheduled.


Mobility software solutions have the ability to work while connected and while disconnected from your systems and synchronize after being disconnected.  Mobility software can exist as a bolt-on to what you are already using and is where many organizations start.  Somebody, somewhere created something that your people will somehow, after too much time and expense, finally figure out how to integrate with your system and then invest a lot of time keeping it integrated.

In contrast your solution provider may have or is developing a fully integrated solution.  This solution is typically clean and simple and has the same interface and conventions as the main ERP solution.  The mobile solution is typically fast and effective for everyday use.  Users can easily search for customer or inventory information, pricing and availability, create and send orders.  In some cases the mobile applications can be utilized by both internal personnel as well as customers. 

Once you are mobile enabled it opens the door to more effective connections with your customers, it is an enhancement to your relationship.  Trade shows, onsite customer visits, on the street.  You are conducting business where and when it needs to happen, not just in your back office.

So what should you look for in your solution?

  • Work well online as well as offline.
  • Minimal need for additional equipment.
  • Minimized data usage on cellular networks.
  • Intuitive searching and selecting.
  • The ability to take advantage of mobile bar code and image capture applications.
  • Connectivity to Bluetooth devices such as scanners, printers, and credit card devices.
  • Signature capture.
  • Payment collection.
  • Geo location and navigation.
  • DSD route sales.
  • Immediate sales and delivery.

How would your organization compete better with a fully integrated and supported set of applications by your ERP solution provider?

This might all sound futuristic, but these solutions exist now and your customers are expecting these types of solutions.  Why?  Because your customers have their own demands and your products are needed when they need them, on their schedule. 

Mobility or not, you do not need the solution just to have the solution.  You need the solution to service your customers the way you would expect to be serviced.  Remember always that everything you invest in your company should have your end customers in mind.  You could have the best of everything, but if you do not have anyone to purchase your product or if it takes too much effort to do business with you, then they will go somewhere else even if it costs more.

What are your thoughts?  Share them here to benefit your fellow readers.  I am sure they would appreciate it as much as we do.

Navigating your way through the constant flux in technology and how it specifically impacts your business needs takes effort.  A trusted advisor like Dolvin Consulting helps in many ways including helping you to recognized and narrow your focus on critical impact areas.  Contact us today to see how we can help your team drive more efficiency in your operations. 

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