The power of portability: Extending ERP's reach for growth

123Insight Fortee - extending ERPs reach for growth

Implementing an ERP system is essential for companies aiming to achieve sustainable growth. However, if you are not including portable devices or handheld technology into that mix, you may be missing a trick. Extending the reach of your ERP system and the data that it provides directly into the hands of your staff can enhance operational efficiency, unlock growth, and drive cost-effectiveness across the board.

The portable advantage over traditional desktop hardware

The savings that you can make by integrating portable devices into the ERP ecosystem cannot be overstated. Tablets offer a significantly lower Total Cost of Ownership compared to their PC counterparts. This cost advantage can come from multiple sources: the initial cost of the hardware is lower, maintenance and IT support costs are reduced, and the portability of these devices replaces the need for multiple desktop PCs across your facility. 

Many shop floor environments can be hostile to technology, so factory-located hardware will often have a shorter lifespan than its office-based counterparts. Therefore, having devices that you can replace more cost-effectively further reduces the overall cost exposure.

Unleashing productivity anywhere

One of the most immediate benefits of portable devices in an ERP context is the freeing the user from the desktop terminal. Tablets empower employees to access and interact with their ERP system on the move, whether they are on the shop floor, in stores, or despatch. This translates into immediate time savings, with information and functionality accessible at the point of action. The resulting efficiency not only optimises workflow but also enhances decision-making speed, directly contributing to the overall productivity of the business.

Also, mobile devices can direct this efficiency by guiding staff to where they need to be. Picking lists for works orders or despatch notes direct staff to the bin locations via the shortest route. Over the course of days or weeks this can make a significant difference to the amount of legwork that staff need to perform making them more productive with less effort.

Boosting operational visibility and control

With tablets, data collection and entry become instantaneous and can occur at the source of action. This immediacy improves the accuracy of your data, providing a real-time snapshot of operations that enhances visibility across the enterprise. This supports more informed decision-making and strategic planning, which are crucial elements for driving business growth.

Enhancing employee engagement and satisfaction

While tablets themselves have been around for 20 years, it was not until the launch of the Apple iPad (and the Android tablets that followed) that tablets became commonplace. The intuitive interfaces and finger-friendly aspects of tablet devices are now accepted by the modern workforce, as most staff will have touch-based devices at home. This significantly boosts user uptake and use of the ERP system, leading to higher rates of data accuracy. Furthermore, equipping employees with tools that reflect a forward-thinking culture generates greater job satisfaction and retention, which is an indirect but additional driver of company growth. In short, when staff can process the mundane faster, this frees up more time for more creative, productive and perhaps even more enjoyable tasks.

Supporting sustainable practices

A byproduct of switching to mobile devices is the lowering of your company’s carbon footprint. Tablets offer an eco-friendlier alternative to PCs and paper-based systems. Power consumption can be drastically reduced – the average PC will draw 300+watts, whereas a tablet will take around 10-12 watts – a 97% saving! Multiply this by the number of devices in use, also considering the significant increase in electricity prices in recent times, and the savings quickly mount up. Even when these devices reach end of life, their small form factor means that there is less to recycle, and the process is easier.

Driving innovation and efficiency

In conclusion, the power of portability through devices such as tablets or other handheld technology extends the reach and capability of ERP systems in ways that both directly and indirectly contribute to company growth. From cost reductions and time savings to improved data accuracy and employee satisfaction, the benefits are comprehensive and compelling. As the industrial landscape continues to evolve, the integration of portable devices with ERP systems will be a hallmark of the agile, innovative, and growth-oriented business.

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