Mobile ERP case studies you can learn from
As the old saying goes; “for every seller, there’s a buyer”; or in our specific case, an enterprise resources planning platform. More and more people are adopting mobile usage on a daily basis. On average users spend almost five hours per day on mobile devices, the majority of which is spent on mobile apps. Now, let’s consider what and how the technology specifically applies to the ERP segment.
What is mobile ERP?
First, let’s take a quick refresher on the meaning of what we refer to as today’s mobile ERP. To paraphrase IGI Global, mobile ERP extends traditional ERP tenets and processes by independently collecting and exchanging data via mobile devices and wireless communications mechanisms. Standardized interfaces allow a direct and steady connection to distributed ERP systems, thereby leading to more flexible and efficient enterprise business processing.
In more simple terms, mobile ERP solutions can be explained as virtual ‘all-the-time-anywhere’ operating platforms that can be leveraged by managers, workers, or customers in real-time. This universal value proposition allows the enterprise to force-multiply any scale of enterprise; whether it’s a small ‘Mom and Pop’ shop generating revenues on the order of a million dollars or less, or a multinational industry titan generating billions on an annual basis.
Industry specific mobile ERP apps
Today’s constellation of mobile apps range from the simple to the complex. Nevertheless, all offerings suggest the same business values; enhanced production and the promise of consequent increased revenues. To understand this assertion it is best left to the market itself, so let’s take a look at a couple of mobility-adept industries and their common functions/features applicable to today’s market.
- Manufacturing – this category ranges from small fabrication operations to large-scale product developers such as auto or equipment brands. Particular functions and features typically involve all record adds/changes/deletes, time/stamp markers, geo-locators, user announcements, and security alarms.
- Commercial marine operations – this category primarily relates to vessel processes and dock and port facilities. Particular functions and features typically involve all record adds/changes/deletes, time/stamp markers, navigational tracking, communication systems status’, geo-locators, standard/emergency user announcements, and triggered security alarms.
- Oil and gas development – this category primarily relates to drilling, refining, production and delivery of fossil fuels. Particular functions and features typically involve all record adds/changes/deletes, time/stamp markers, geo-locators, standard/emergency safety announcements, and HAZMAT, and/or triggered security alarms.
As suggested earlier, these mobile ERP features apply to three industrial segments and represent only a small sampling of what mobility means to today’s global industry.
Mobile ERP case studies
Here are some case examples to review as you determine how important mobile ERP is to your own business needs. These case samples range from mid to large-scale operations, however, all enterprises were either already involved with a current ERP platform or were applying active mobile capabilities during various selection/launch/implementation processes.
1. Transportation supply-chain operator
The company is a leading supply-chain operator in the road construction equipment segment. The company is a mature enterprise, encompassing a 40 year lifespan. Its product line is extensive, primarily supporting global transportation systems developers.
The mobility requirement
The company’s workforce expanded in recent years, requiring a need to streamline its administrative communications capabilities. Its goal was to ensure that all information related to personnel allotments and task assignments were deliverable throughout the company’s business infrastructure. The company also wanted to enhance field staff operations by equipping it with a native mobility capability oriented to enhanced customer support and affiliated reporting.
The company’s administrative manager typically assigns sales personnel to individual field sales managers. In turn, these personnel are assigned multiple customers. In the past, at the conclusion of each sales transaction, necessary paper forms were used to gather information, and then execute a manual data entry process using the company’s web portal. As the company grew it began to experience various operational logjams, largely driven by an ever-increasing number of active customers. Subsequently, a related internal investigation found that:
- Sales personnel spent too much time searching for necessary customer information.
- Manual data entry processes were redundant and prone to error.
- Sales status reports experienced delivery lags since legacy processes only allowed for end-of-day batching.
- New customer record updates were slow and consequently resulted in lost sales.
The company’s solution
The company already had an installed web application system, so after a thorough internal analysis, it proposed an iPad app development for its field staff. The app allowed the company to seamlessly leverage its existing online portal and active data store. Its design allowed for various record options including; customer-lists address books, an ability to register operational events, all the while employing direct geo-location. The design also allowed sales personnel to submit reports in real-time.
After development and implementation was concluded, the company successfully realized all stated goals.
2. Mid-size retail sales chain
Various metrics relating to today’s retail environment suggest that a minimum of 50% of all retail customers involve themselves with smartphone device use. This non-mobile mid-size retail operator found itself facing increasing competition from other mobile-enabled competitors.
The mobility requirement
The company was not mobile-enabled, and consequently was experiencing lost sales opportunities, particularly in the case of targeting young customers. Unfortunately, the company had largely depended on young users to increase brand value by means of word-of-mouth.
The company required a way to enhance its promotion, marketing, and engagement of products to young customers, while at the same time leveraging a seamless resources-based digital infrastructure. The company felt that by tailoring its sales offerings, while enhancing the company’s shopping experience, customers would be more attentive to its product attractions.
The company’s solution
The company engaged a professional mobile developer to ensure that a proper set of operational goals were established. Subsequently, the following solutions were developed and delivered to the company:
- Mobile shopping cart – this capability allowed users to select and purchase items on-demand.
- Mobile product search – this capability enabled users to do targeted lookups related to specific items from larger catalog products.
- Mobile payment – this capability enabled customers to securely pay for purchases.
- Mobile product ship and track – this capability enabled customers to manage inbound products while allowing the company to maintain active transaction tracking in order to resolve any delivery issues.
- Wish list– this capability allowed users to bookmark selected items for future purchase.
- Store locator– this capability helped customers find the nearest outlet in the event that the customer wanted to leverage the app, but still wanted to do their purchases at one of the company’s bricks and mortar outlets.
- Direct support – this capability afforded customers to contact the company’s service center regarding issues or defects, and also afforded the customer a 24/7 hotline enhanced with live chat.
Once the company launched its mobile app it reported a significant rise in customer engagement. Customer ease of access led to numerous positive responses from its sales team. Ultimately, customer retention has risen accordingly, in addition to significant increases in new prospect transactions.
3. Global aviation manufacturer
While the company’s outsourced operations lowered manufacturing costs, it also added complexity and presented a need for rigid controls when managing day-to-day operations. Due to the limitations of a legacy MRP system, and while establishing a newly sophisticated multiple-module ERP platform, much of the company’s work had to be done manually which became increasingly more difficult to manage as the company grew. Consequently, a mobility-adept system was desired as a middle ground.
To prevent counterfeit items from entering its supply chain, the company bought a significant number of parts domestically and consigned them to factories in China. The practice required a manual calculation of needed components based on finished assembly usage and inventory levels at the factory. In addition, the company had to calculate the necessary excess to purchase based on historic scrap levels.
If these challenges weren’t difficult enough, communicating with Hong Kong and China operations required them to share and access data around the clock which proved challenging given various time differences.
The company implemented a multi-module ERP system including; accounting, purchasing, sales orders and inventory, enhanced with mobility.
Once the program was complete the company’s critical data was being shared across functional areas of their business in real-time while maintaining a comprehensive financial status as required. Inventory interfaces with accounting, bill of materials were created that drive demand based on inventory levels across its four factories in China. Additionally, a quality module was included to help the company work through various international compliances, including capabilities such as sub-part traceability and lot coding.
The company’s ROI increased by 50% of sales growth by year four.
As you can see, industrial mobility, and more importantly mobile ERP, is becoming a game-changer regardless of the particular business segment. Consequently, is it time to ask yourself, is your enterprise ready to make the jump to mobility lightspeed?
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