The Real Mobile ERP Opportunity

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Your ERP system is a beast. A snarling, sometimes messy collection of data held together by software applications and databases, its job is to house, catalog and categorize—then only later shout, whisper and echo back everything that happens in your business. This powerful creature needs to handle processing demands, be a reliable repository, have the organizational prowess to classify information, and communicate about this data.

Impressive, right? Yes, except for the minor fact that your enterprise resource planning (ERP) system doesn’t quite tell you everything. Even the finest implemented ERP systems come up short because they simply don’t possess all of the knowledge you need.

The box score from my first ever Major League Baseball game courtesy Baseball Almanac.

The box score from the first Major League Baseball game I ever witnessed.  Courtesy Baseball Almanac.

We can liken it to a Major League Baseball game box score. It sort of tells the fan what happened during the game, and does so honestly. It just leaves out key details. While a traditional box score will accurately present the total number of hits a player had throughout the game, it reveals very little about the situation–the other forces at work while on the field. Too much of the context of the game is missing.

To analyze the player’s performance, we need to know what happened, and when. What were the conditions?

Sure the box score can tell me that my leadoff hitter had 2 hits in 4 at-bats, but it doesn’t say that he collected both hits after the game was out of reach.

Seriously—how can we smartly boast about our favorite player’s talent without an arsenal of factors that made their plays impressive? And to talk convincing smack, we need to present proper evidence that our buddy’s guy “ain’t all that.” Otherwise, it becomes an empty, witless battle.

The same goes for your ERP system. It possesses much of the data we need for strategic planning. We just want more of it. We like the reports, dashboards and lookups, but the ERP could tell us so much more.

Think of all the missing context that could be captured with your ERP.  The play-by-play detail of our business story will help us properly identify factors contributing to our success as well as alert us to the adjustments we should consider.

My hometown baseball broadcaster with the Chicago White Sox, Ken “Hawk” Harrelson likes to say, “Don’t tell me what you hit. Tell me when you hit it.” Exactly.

Next at batmobile technology.

My 12-year-old son, Owen, follows White Sox games from his iPhone. His experience is a world apart from mine at his age.  For starters, he can look at a live box score as the game is being played. As a kid, I had to wait to read stats in the next morning’s newspaper.

Now, a tap of a finger gives Owen complete play-by-play details, including data not formerly available, like how far the home run ball traveled, how fast a strikeout pitch was thrown, and defensive positioning. The smart phone-enabled box score (game cast) now includes features such as social media links to communicate with other fans, access to photos and replay videos. In every respect, the game cast completely trumps the old school box score in newsprint.

Mobile technology is real-time, interactive, and can tell a more complete story than ever before.

Look at last week’s sales report, yesterday’s receiving numbers, or last month’s financials. When you think of all the missing info, it now kind of looks like an old box score, right?

The opportunity to add new context—and value—to your ERP system is mind blowing.  

Despite the phenomenal technology that we all carry in our pockets, the movement to adapt ERP systems to mobile devices has been somewhat slow. One reason is the new technology is not yet understood enough. In other cases, businesses are simply not sure where to start.

We can learn from the early 1990s, when Business Process Re-engineering was all the rage.  

Business Process Re-engineering (BPR) was hugely popular in the 1990s. It was an important and valuable form of business consulting primarily because of the rapid and pervasive spread of PC-based accounting and ERP software systems.

Companies who invested in BPR benefited the most from their new systems. It required companies to document every step of their job tasks. Using the context of new business tools available, it mapped out expected new behaviors, processes and benefits available, thanks to the the latest technology.

Business people who understand ERP, are comfortable using mobile devices, and who have an eye for creating new value are potentially qualified to at least begin re-defining business processes to capitalize on this transformative technology. This needs to be done first—from sales, to warehouse, manufacturing, purchasing, accounting, customer service and all areas throughout the organization.

The question becomes, how do we identify which processes, and it which ways, we can add new value to our business by incorporating the very unique qualities of our mobile devices;  qualities such as camera and video, push notifications and alerts, geo-awareness, calendar, email, phone and other direct app integrations.

Mobile ERP presents the opportunity to bring all new context to your legacy systems.  Once the market discovers the value of mobilizing ERP systems, and how to tap into it, we will see a new era marked by better informed, more responsive, more confident, better-connected, working people.

Business Process Re-engineering can provide the creative energy and the structured framework to define a new reality.

That is the opportunity with mobile ERP

How to Transform an ERP System from Record Keeper to Business Driver

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Guest Blogger: Joanna Rotter is the Content Marketing Specialist for MSI Data, a leader in field force automation software and creator of the enterprise field service app, Service Pro. Connect with Joanna via email at joannar@msidata.com.

Enterprise technologies are becoming more and more integrated and connected. Turning software into an all-in-one system can move a business forward.

Mobile Measurement Tools

Mobile Measurement Tools

Historically, Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) systems only served database storage and business accounting needs. While these are still essentials in an ERP, today’s business software demands extend to integrated technology, so the best providers now support companies beyond the accounting department. When customers research ERP systems worthy of investment, they also expect them to accommodate service, sales, CRM, and other functions.

Why Changing Business Software is Good for ERP Providers

The connection between industry operations and accounting management isn’t anything new. Production and financial management have always been inextricably linked in any business. Whether its core focus is manufacturing, distribution, contracting, telecommunications or services, company leaders typically recognize the need to address accounting and common operational function management within a single integrated system wherever possible.

This call for integrated systems, while a change and a challenge for typical ERP providers, opens up a range of opportunities for connections and partnerships with other software companies. ERP providers can take advantage of the call for greater connectivity by partnering with software developers focusing on various industries to offer customers all-in-one solutions that perform an array of integrated functions to meet specialized needs.

ERP and Business Operations Systems: Better Together

In an increasingly competitive market, forging customer loyalty and long-term customer relationships are growing concerns for companies in a variety of industries. This is why all departments in an organization need to work together to form a unified front.

For example, many service-focused organizations now recognize the service department itself as a ‘company within the company.’ This means extending leadership and decision-making autonomy to employees working in this area, so they may operate as a profit center and better set themselves apart with exceptional service delivery.

No longer only reactionary, in these cases, the service department can now be tasked with becoming a critical driver of new revenue and curator of existing customer accounts. That means taking on many new roles and responsibilities, including sales, estimating, and even public relations. With these additional demands, service departments need their own software system that can integrate with the ERP so the sales and revenue initiated in their department is immediately accessible to accounting personnel and vice versa.

service_pro_web_portals

Service Pro Web Portals

What to Look for in a Mobile Partner

ERP systems function and exist within the confines of an office building. But many industries, like field service, are inherently mobile, thus require mobile software to integrate with their ERP system.

In order to give customers the best of both worlds, ERP providers can integrate with an industry-specific mobile application. When choosing the best mobile apps to connect with an ERP system, consider the following:

  • Is it cross-platform? Some customers are open to using the best device or mobile operating platform for the job. Others prefer not to be limited by a single option.
  • Does it run native? Mobile workers often work in areas without cell reception. You want to make sure the app still works when they’re offline.
  • Is it cloud-based? Cloud-based software allows companies to purchase software as a service, while easing the ability to share data and provide IT support.
  • Does it improve communication between in-office and mobile workers? You want the application to automatically connect back-office and field workers to save time and keep everyone in the loop.
  • Does it have data collection, storage, and analysis capabilities? Data-driven decisions are better than educated guesses, and real-time data is better than month-old data. Be sure your app provider delivers data that helps improve business decisions.
  • Can it schedule and send alerts to a mobile workforce? Employees who work off-site may need to be able to schedule appointments with specified instructions and receive changes on the fly.

Drive your business forward with the right software partners.
Businesses are learning that both administrative automation and software integration are necessary to compete in an increasingly connected workplace. Conduct a thorough and organized software selection and implementation process for targeted industries and realize the benefits of an integrated business strategy.

About MSI: MSI develops enterprise, scheduling and mobile software that helps companies improve the productivity of their field workforce and replace paper and disconnected spreadsheet-based business processes by automating field service, inspections, site surveys, audits, reporting and other critical field-driven business processes. Whether deployed in the cloud or on-premise, MSI field workforce software applications are easy to acquire, easy to deploy and deliver enterprises with rapid return on investment. To learn more, please visit www.msidata.com.

Are you looking for the right integrated, mobile ERP solution for you or your customers? Please contact xkzero at info@xkzero.com or 847-416-2009.
Also, to find more about our mobile offerings, visit our website at www.xkzero.com.

You Snooze, Your Company Loses

 But don’t be alarmed – wake up with Universal Search for your ERP.

You Snooze You Lose

If you are navigating your ERP system without the assistance of a universal search tool then you are wasting your time, and other people’s too. You just are. If you would like to see how you can spend less time in your ERP and more time serving your customers, or doing whatever the heck else you’d rather be doing contact us.

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xkzero | Create local.  Sell Everywhere.

 

Manufacturers & Distributors: A Checklist for Evaluating Mobile Sales Apps to Best Fit YOUR Needs

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By Paul Ziliak, co-founder, xkzero

Your company has decided take the lead this year in your industry and plans to modernize your sales team by equipping them with smart phones and tablets that do more than automate email, calendars and address books. Ownership has given the green light to you as the sales manager to find and acquire the best mobile apps for your business that actually integrate with your ERP system. Excited? You bet you are! Nervous? More than a little, because even though you have spelled out the goals and calculated the ROI, you don’t want to get this investment wrong. Frankly, if it doesn’t work you are going to have a lot of explaining to do.

Decision points abound, but the field of mobilized ERP for sales people is not rife with how-to guides and requirements checklists, so we hope you will find this useful. Can we guarantee that you will find the perfect fit for your distribution needs? No, but we do know that the more informed you are the more likely your project with succeed.

Mobile Snapshot
Here are some capabilities to consider when selecting a mobile app:

  • First, confirm that your ERP/CRM system can integrate with available mobile apps out-of-the-box. Remember that a mobile app designed to “integrate with any ERP” is not designed to integrate primarily with your ERP.
  • Integrate customer info
  • Integrate inventory info
  • Allow mobile selling
  • Enable B2B mobile self-service
  • Accept customer payments
  • Provide survey management
  • Allow photo tagging
  • Enable route management
  • Automate order delivery
  • Optimize trade show sales
  • Support bar code scanning
  • Provide credit card swipe support
  • Accommodate a pricing system that works for you (user-based, device-based, by company, etc.)

Goals for Mobile
Evaluate whether a mobile app can improve your business in these ways:

  • Increase/accelerate revenue
  • Provide employees flexible options
  • Enable customer self-service
  • Improve customer service
  • Speed up order-delivery-payment process
  • Streamline various processes
  • Eliminate redundant processes

Mobile Management
Determine which of these specifications that are right for your company:

  • Native ERP-based data management vs. Cloud-based data management
  • Ability to control features and data by User/Role
  • Multi-language support
  • Multi-company support
  • Inherent business intelligence/reporting

Intended Use
Think through these ways that your company may utilize the app:

  • Access at a customer or prospect’s location
  • Access at a trade show or conference
  • Access anywhere outside the office
  • Connect with sales or service counter from your office
  • Conduct retail point-of-sale transactions
  • Use for event selling

Mobile Customer / Contact Features
Decide which of these actions are important to your company:

  • Organize by customer or by contact
  • Add customers on-the-fly
  • Add contacts on-the-fly
  • Integrate with map
  • Integrate with email
  • Integrate with phone
  • Integrate with calendar
  • Display multiple ship-to locations
  • View customer/item last purchase/history
  • View open sales orders
  • View open accounts receivable
  • Control fields displayed by User

Mobile Inventory
Decide which of these items you need to view when tracking inventory:

  • Item warehouse quantities
  • Item images/drawings/diagrams
  • Miscellaneous non-inventory items
  • Price and cost information

Mobile Sales and Delivery
Select the processes you would like to handle for sales and delivery:

  • Manage by route
  • Manage by territory
  • Manage by vehicle
  • Manage by user/sales rep/driver
  • Create quotes
  • Create orders
  • Create invoices
  • Create credits/sales returns
  • Create inventory exchanges
  • Conduct inventory check-out/check-in with inventory reconciliation
  • Reconcile payments
  • Follow native ERP pricing rules
  • Capture signature
  • Print and email receipts/orders
  • Control price overrides

Mobile B2B
Decide which of these business-to-business-friendly features you need:

  • Provide select customers with self-service app
  • Support rules regarding data access

Mobile Payments
Determine which of these mobile payment methods and features you prefer:

  • Receive payments against open invoices
  • Accept payments against new orders/invoices
  • Check
  • Credit card
  • Cash
  • Supports payment reconciliation

xkzero creates technologies to further the success of companies with supply chain management and distribution needs. Our specialty is Sage ERP and our focus is creating functional and technological solutions that are simple to deploy and have a powerfully positive impact on your bottom line.

Our guiding force is the experience of the Sage user and their customer on the other end. Our featured applications include:

Accelerating sales, improving margins, your products delivered for less–and time savings for everyone. That is the xkzero experience.

If we can help you grow please contact us at info@xkzero.com