How to Use ERP Software as a Platform to Master Rapid Business Change

Guest post by Dan Aldridge from our ERP partner Priority Software.

By now, we’re all pretty familiar with new business models brought about by a dynamically shifting,  sharing economy. Nowadays, a tech event can’t open without hackneyed sound bites such as “Uber, the world’s largest taxi company, owns no vehicles; or Facebook, the world’s most popular media owner, creates no content.”

The truth is that virtually every industry you can name is being disrupted by new ideas enabled by the latest technology.

So, how are your systems supposed to keep pace? Traditionally, ERP software vendors have built new functionality and features atop ageing platforms – essentially adding code to stand-alone “back office” software. Well, this strategy is losing the race.

With app-based businesses like Uber now dominating the landscape, the challenge is to connect traditional ERP to a vast array of applications running on the cloud and to create flexible ways of accessing the information in the system through mobile devices.

Fortunately, there is a solution and it’s already a reality for the most forward-looking ERP providers: ERP as a platform – aka, Enterprise Resource Platform. This new ERP isn’t bound by any preconceived idea. It exists to enable developers, and more importantly, non tech-savvy users, to tailor the software to meet their needs. So yes, it’s the perfect tool to help your business navigate (and flourish) in a constantly changing enterprise environment.

Here are a few building blocks that make up the Enterprise Resource Platform and they can help you master the challenges of new business models rather than be driven by them.

Flexibility

Today, competitive dynamics and the pace of change are so quick that most companies don’t know what their business model will be in the next 2-3 years. Sound familiar? What this means is that business management solutions, including ERP software, must be flexible and allow for business agility in order to meet an organisation’s current and future needs. Why? Because a business that’s not agile, or is inhibited by their business management software, will become irrelevant – and fast.

Ideally, users and admins should be able to handle their own ERP systems, minimising the dependency on third party vendors. This is best illustrated in ERP with a strong Business Process Management (BPM) application, a tool which enables automated workflows that quickly adapt to changes in the business.

These tools also include a graphical, “drag & drop” User Interface (UI) to allow users to adapt forms and reports in minutes to support the new workflows. Ideally, a modern ERP platform can offer a broader range of flexibility enablers, such as mobile application generators, so that users can build mobile apps with a few easy clicks – without the need for programming skills. Increasingly, this capability is a must, not just a “nice to have”.

BYOD/Mobility

With the rise of public WiFi and the ‘bring your own device’ culture, mobility is becoming increasingly popular within businesses. It’s no longer surprising to see people working from laptops, taking conference calls on-the-go, or emailing from their mobiles. In a survey of 500 senior business decision-makers, we found that while 95% believed mobility increased productivity, over a third did not have the proper technology to fulfill its potential, and 43% could not perform business-critical functions on a mobile application.

While traditional ERP products were designed for desktops, modern ERP is conveniently designed for laptops, smartphones and tablets, so that business management is no longer confined to the office. As teams become more distributed, core business processes need to be simple to do from remote locations as well.

Applications for a mobile sales force, field technicians, proof of delivery and other sales and service-oriented roles must be part of your modern ERP solution. Mobile ERP apps manage your business on-the-go, where, for example, field service reps can perform and report from the field. Mobile apps also allow company management to have full transparency and control – almost entirely without even touching a computer.

To find what the last building block that helps you approach your ERP as a platform is; continue reading the blog here.

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