November 11, 2013 by Donna Fritz
The unrelenting proliferation of smart devices continues to accelerate the bring-your-own-device (BYOD) trend in today’s offices. The use of a wide range of devices in the workplace is a common sight and mobility is quickly becoming a key factor in increasing productivity. This same workforce is now demanding the availability of their business applications on all devices. According to Forrester, today’s workers are likely to use CRM, HRM and even ERP applications on mobile devices. While TAKE Supply Chain’s own research has shown that mobile is not as pervasive in supply chain management yet (see our findings here), it is still vital to prepare for that inevitability.
While our first instinct might be to simply move all available desktop applications to a mobile platform, the strategy can easily lead to wasted time and resources as well a functional mismatch across devices. It’s the difference between what ‘can be done’ through technology and what tasks and activities are best suited for a mobile platform. A better method is to determine which applications will not only work well on a mobile device, but deliver increased value from mobile accessibility.
The two key areas to consider are:
As you can imagine, these are complex topics, so I will focus on the supply chain tasks in this post and cover modes of deployment in my next post.
In general, applications requiring minimal data entry, while providing summarized key data important to the execution or decision-making process by a user, are best suited for delivery via mobile devices. Task such as:
stand to benefit the most from a touchscreen interface.
In supply chain operations, the following activities are suited for delivery via a mobile (smart) device, which can also drive significant productivity gains:
Tasks requiring a significant amount of data entry, large amounts of data review, or complex analysis are generally not well suited for smaller touch screens. This would include creation of a shipment notice against a PO or acknowledgment of a PO by confirming delivery quantities and delivery dates for all the items that don’t actually benefit from mobile functionality and are more challenging to accomplish on a smaller, touch screen.
The form factor and features of mobile devices lead to some “no-brainer” activities that mobile devices are ideal for:
In this global economy, accessibility of full data views via mobile browsers may be an important option, especially if tasks must be performed immediately for critical orders, where a day may be the difference in fulfilling a customer order in time. For example, if requisition requires immediate approval while the key decision maker is out of the office, having the option to view the desktop transaction data via a mobile web browser on a smart device may be the difference in delivering the order in time.
There is no doubt that the introduction of mobile capabilities at strategic points in your supply chain can result in significant efficiency and productivity gains that would directly improve your bottom line. However, the magnitude of these gains largely depends on making smart choices regarding how and where to deploy mobility in your supply chain.
The nature of the business and corresponding industry, the complexity and/or volume of data to be processed at different levels of your supply chain, and a good understanding of your business processes will show you where the introduction of mobility will be most effective.
See my next blog post where I continue with part 2 of this topic: the deployment modes used to deliver mobile functionality. Or email me if you’re ready to discuss how you should integrate mobility into your supply chain processes.