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Mobilizing SAP – Episode 1

Hi folks,

Before we jump into the technical part of the mobile solution described in my previous blog Mobilizing SAP, lets try and answer the question Why Mobile?

There are number of areas where mobile devices can be used to extend the effectiveness of the SAP. One of the signs of an opportunity for mobile device is when the business is still being conducted on paper. This could include pick lists, trouble tickets or invoices. Converting paper-based business processes to forms-based application can provide immediate productivity, data quality and cost improvements. Forms based applications enable a person to enter data at the point of origin removing additional data entry step from paper to a computer. Not only does this speed up getting data into the organization, but many companies have seen the quality of data increase as well. Let us consider a few business scenario’s (story boards) where the solution mentioned could be applicable..

Well, the best solution I can think of is Global Goods delivery system. Well, at the point of delivery when the goods are delivered to you, the delivery personal would require your autograph on the receipt and the delivery shall be updated in the system at the end of the day when he makes it back to the office. Wouldn’t it be great if he was carrying a cell phone and updates the system immediately or at the earliest after the goods are delivered? This in turn could trigger a workflow where the sender receives an email or an SMS where he is informed about the delivery so that he can take appropriate action, if required.

Consider a soft drink distributor who distributes cans of soft drinks to restaurant, malls etc. Say Restaurant A has ordered for 30 trays of soft drinks. When the delivery personal reaches restaurant, they opt for only 28 trays. The delivery personal can now use his cell phone to update this data onto the system. In case of no connectivity, this data is stored in the local database in the cell phone and then can be updated in the system in presence of connectivity.

It also pretty much makes sense to allocate a $100 cell phone to an employee for this job rather than a $1000 laptop. The limited display and memory of the cell phone shall be enough to carry out the above operation. At the end of the day, the task gets accomplished at a much cheaper rate!

Consider a Service technician who is out there on field at the client’s site to resolve some technical issues. His job is to attend the complaint and make notes about the same, if required, and update the system as Complaint Attended. He could use his cell phone to get the list of complaints and get more information about the same like description, impact level, fault area, symptoms and solution, if any etc. After attending the complaint, he updates the system as Complaint Attended.

This reminds me of another business scenario where the sales force people who have a To-do list for the day. They are responsible for visiting the client and market their product and at the end of the day, they update their supervisors of their progress. In this case, these folks can use the customized solution to update the system when they attend a client. The supervisor can check their status online and also add a To-do list item in the users list if he intends to allocate some job. The work of the field force can be checked and monitored more closely as every work item and its status gets listed.

Consider another simple scenario where the field personal can extract the information like contact numbers, addresses of a particular client and update them as well. The memory of the cell phone shall not be able to store all this data. So, it would be great if the cell could retrieve this information; when required.

Other examples where the solution described could be used are:

  • Viewing Product and Price information
  • To add, view or modify opportunities
  • Performing Inventory availability check
  • Determining the Status of a shipment
  • Asset tracking including location, temperature and other relevant data
  • Capturing a customer’s digital signature directly on a mobile device at the time products or services are delivered

Shortening the supply chain cycles, increasing the quality of data in the SAP, speeding the flow of information to one’s mobile workforce, partners and customers are driving factors for businesses to integrate mobile devices into their systems.

The best bet for an organization would be to start a pilot by identifying where they can most effectively mobilize their SAP systems.

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