Mastering mobile ERP challenges
Because of the availability of smart devices, the workplace is no longer necessarily the only place employees can deliver results - it is, therefore, important for organisations to implement enterprise resource planning (ERP) systems that run on mobile platforms.
This is according to Viesturs Zalaiskalns, channel manager at HansaWorld SA, who notes in today's mobile-pervasive environment, when selecting an ERP system, the availability of mobility is an important consideration for future-proofing.
As infrastructure improves, the necessity for ERP that is accessible anywhere will grow, he adds.
Zalaiskalns points out companies need to prepare employees for the use of mobile ERP systems - most will appreciate the opportunity to work remotely.
If a business is looking to mobilise its ERP system, it should select a vendor that can demonstrate how the basic workflows, such as order processing, can be executed on mobile devices, says Zalaiskalns.
If the vendor is unable to make that simple demonstration, don't expect it to be able to deliver on more complex workflows in future, he adds.
"In SA, few ERP vendors can confidently say that their mobile apps will satisfy the needs of their customers. Most will only provide mobile reporting functionality, rather than the ability to input or manipulate data."
That's no longer an adequate response to market needs; people expect to be able to do things with their mobile devices and not just read information, says Zalaiskalns.
If a business selects an ERP vendor with a good implementation track record, return of investment can range from 20% to 50% depending on the type of business and the level of automation in place prior to ERP implementation, he adds.
Jeremy Waterman, MD of Sage ERP Africa and Middle East, says for mid-sized businesses, quick and secure access to real-time business information via mobile devices is rapidly becoming a must - but mobilising an ERP system isn't without its challenges.
He points out ERP systems are storehouses of some of the company's most important data, giving users access to this data from their mobile device - often, personally-owned consumer device - poses a range of security challenges that must be tightly managed.
Waterman says enabling access to this sensitive and proprietary data demands up-front planning to ensure the organisation has the processes, policies and systems in place to protect information. This will help keep the business safe as it mobilises its business process, he adds.
Employee-owned devices blur the lines between personal and professional lives, says Waterman. Therefore, enterprises should have a documented data ownership policy to ensure there is no confusion over what is 'personally owned' and what belongs to the company, concludes Waterman.