More than 65 percent of companies are overdue to deploy Mobile Workforce Solution (MWS) apps, but are failing to do so due to unfounded fears. They don’t realise the massive cost savings and productivity benefits these solutions offer.
Most modern ERP and CRM systems have apps on the horizon or already available, but what most people don’t understand is the difference between Mobile ERP and purpose-built MWS apps.
One Channel director Clive Kangisser says making any ERP function available on a mobile device such as initiating a purchase requisition, doing a stock inquiry or processing a customer invoice is a good feature but is not a Mobile Workforce Solution.
“MWS refers to mobile workers carrying out their old paper-based job functions on a smart phone or tablet. An example of this is a field service technician who has scheduled works orders sent to the smart phone, navigates to site, carries out a systematic set of steps, fills in forms, takes a photo, scans a barcode, gets a signature on screen and closes the job ticket,” he explains.
Other MWS solutions suitable to a true Mobile Workforce application include mobile merchandising, property or equipment inspections, metre reading, van sales, logistics and collections and deliveries.
Solutions such as MobiWork are true Mobile Workforce Apps and integrate to ones existing accounting, CRM or ERP solutions. This integration is critical at certain points such as synchronising customer, supplier and inventory lists, invoicing to accounts receivable, costs to general ledger and de-stocking of inventory control systems.
MobiWork MWS currently integrates bi-directionally with Sage Evolution, Sage 300, Sage X3, Sage CRM, QuickBooks, MS Dynamics, Dynamics CRM, Acumatica, Syspro and other popular systems.
True MWS apps require built-in firmware that runs on any operating system, Android or iOS, and make use of the smart devices camera, voice recorder, touch screen, GPS and other features and have underlying smart forms and workflow. ERP mobile apps on the other hand are generally merely extensions of standard ERP functions onto a smart device.
Kangisser says ERP vendors are good at what they do, developing world-class ERP systems, but are not familiar with the specialised features and functions required that make a MWS App work well.
“Proper MWS apps are extremely expensive to develop but vendors have had to come up with competitive pricing and look for volumes to recoup costs. Products like MobiWork MWS cost millions of dollars to develop yet pricing is as low as R250 per user per month with no minimum contract period and no upfront software purchase required,” he stresses.
Any decent MWS app must be 100 percent configurable (forms, workflow, mobile screens, reports) and able to be deployed in any environment in hours or days and not months. This equates to a very small investment for a potentially massive return.
He says any MWS app that is worth its salt will have enterprise level security features that protect one’s data. The preferred method for data storage is hybrid cloud. In other words, data is stored in a secure cloud service and synched to and from the phone or tablet and to and from the ERP system as well using encrypted data transfer protocols.
MobiWork MWS secures data in the cloud using geographically separated fully mirrored data centres with full firewall, operating system and physical security deployed and employs 256Bit SSL. MobiWork is TRUSTe, Safe Harbour certified and uses best-of-breed partners with the following certifications: SOC I, SSAE 16, SAS 70 type II, SOC 2 & 3, PCI DSS Level 1, ISO27001, HIPAA and more.
“The app must also allow the device to store data locally for off-line capability as well as speed and must secure data not only for the organisation, but also for the customer, vendor or staff member with recent privacy legislation such as POPI in South Africa. By choosing a MWS app that complies with all the security requirements, you are as secure as any mobile banking application and I am sure most people trust their own banking app,” he adds.
The biggest misconception is that MWS apps are too technical for staff to use, especially in developing regions like South America and Africa where the opposite has proved to be true. The adoption rate of smart phones in South Africa alone is gaining momentum and is expected to exceed 40 million by 2020 and is currently already over 23 million according to research firm World Wide Worx.
The Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) trend is growing and gaining momentum in the workplace and full-feature smartphone handsets from China are retailing at under R1 000 as compared to Apple and Samsung’s equivalent offerings that cost many times more.
“The point is that almost 100 percent of your workforce is quite comfortable with these hand-held computers we call smartphones and are using free apps such as online banking, chat, social media as well as entertainment quite comfortably. So why would they battle to use a well-designed and intuitive MWS app,” says Kangisser.
“Our experience is that it takes less training to equip a mobile worker on a MobiWork equipped smartphone than it takes to train the same person on a manual, paper-based system.”
Large business owners, SMEs, entrepreneurs, NGO’s and Government departments should all be looking to deploy a professional MWS in the very near future. The perceived barriers of integration, cost, data security, complexity and ease-of-use are not valid and should be correctly understood.
The benefits of deploying a good Mobile Workforce application include increased productivity, real-time data updates, productivity and location tracking as well as the elimination of cumbersome paper-based systems.
“This translates into immediate revenue gains, cost savings and better decision making accompanied by improved customer service. Products such as MobiWork MWS cost around R450 per user per month for a small SME with less than 5 mobile workers full feature MWS and scale downwards in price to below R300 for very large workforces. The return on investment is almost instantaneous,” he concludes.