The first exposure many of us have to ERP systems is that they're large and fraught with complexities, not to mention ERP's track record of implementation failures. However, the cloud and mobile devices have recently put ERP systems in the hands of SMBs. SAP Business One, a Software as a Service (SaaS) ERP solution, with the SAP Business One iOS app on an iPad can enable access to critical business data from any location.
The SAP Business One mobile app in the hands of management, sales, or operations staff allows them to get access to the following business information:
- Financial management data, including accounting and financial processes
- Warehouse and production management data, including the tracking and recording of stock movement and delivery rates
- Customer relationship management data critical to mobile sales forces for tracking sales leads, potential customers, and current customers
Inside the SAP Business One mobile appWhile the SAP Business One mobile app runs on either an iPhone or iPad, the large screen real estate of the iPad brings out the best of this app. Its backend Alerts (Figure A) notify users about events and deviations to pricing, credit limits, and profit targets. Figure A
Alerts from SAP Business One.
With SAP Business One on an iPad, you can truly appreciate the available dashboards and see them in full Retina screen goodness. This app includes the following dashboards:
- Sales Analysis
- Cash Flow
- Purchase Quotations
- Cash Flow Forecast (Figure B)
Cash Flow Forecast dashboard.
The alerts and dashboard usability were the first things that drew me into this mobile app, because I initially thought it would be unnecessarily complex, considering the reputation of SAP products and deployments in some of my professional circles.
Manage the business from an iPad
SAP Business One brings critical business data to the iPad. Here are some of the app's notable features:
Inventory managementThe SAP Business One mobile app enables monitoring over inventory levels with access to product details (Figure C). The beauty of mobile access or inventory management data from a mobile device is that even a mobile sales force can have access to inventory information to help them know if a requested product is in stock and can be moved between locations. Figure C
Inventory management in the SAP Business One mobile app.
Contact and activities management
Using SAP Business One instead of a separate CRM system has the advantage of syncing activities between SAP Business One on the back end and your iPad's calendar. More importantly, it makes for one less app and system for capturing and tracking contacts and activities.
With the down economy requiring small and large companies alike to "partner up" to pursue larger deals and tap into niche expertise, it was nice to see a partner management feature available from the SAP Business One Mobile app.I expect to see partner management become more prevalent since business, technology, and strategic partnerships are commonplace and growing as a practice across many industries. The Business Partners feature (Figure D) enables you to capture the following important partner information:
- Account balance
- Credit limit
- Payment terms
- Price list
Having partner information accessible from a tablet contributes to better partner management and support, especially when it comes to making and closing sales deals.Figure D
Business Partners in the SAP Business One app.
Price listsGiven the world of discounts, contract terms, and partnership agreements, price lists are a critical element to mobile ERP apps, because they arm the mobile sales force and management with the latest in pricing information. The SAP Business One app includes multiple Price Lists (Figure E) that span different purchase levels, partnership, and distributorship arrangements. Figure E
Price Lists as they appear in SAP Business One.
SAP Business One and the mobile sales force
Last year, I wrote "Seven tips for outfitting your sales team with tablets," and the SAP Business One app as the front end to SAP Business One in the cloud shows that mobile sales force tools are getting even better.
Sales management can use the SAP Business One mobile app to assign sales orders or quotations to different team members.The latest release of SAP Business One includes a Sales Catalog feature (Figure F), where organizations can create product descriptions and add illustrations. There's also an interactive comparison tool and full integration with orders/quotations. Figure F
Sales Catalog within SAP Business One.
The sales tools in the SAP Business One mobile app point to the consolidation between cloud CRM and ERP. This could be a positive thing when it comes to giving a mobile sales force an edge over their competitors, as the sales force can view all phases of a development and delivery cycle.
If mobile access to an ERP system is becoming a requirement for your organization, it's never been easier to get a demo. While SAP Business One targets SMBs, it shows that — despite a past reputation for complex software and implementations — SAP does "get it" when it comes to mobile apps and today's mobile workforce.
Will Kelly is a freelance technical writer and analyst currently focusing on enterprise mobility, Bring Your Own Device (BYOD), and the consumerization of IT. He has also written about cloud computing, Big Data, virtualization, project management applications, Google Apps, Microsoft technologies, and online collaboration for TechRepublic and other sites. Will also works as a contract technical writer for clients in the Washington, DC area and nationwide. Follow Will on Twitter: @willkelly.