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As an ex-consultant married to a management consultant, I find myself naturally assimilated to the culture of professional services – constantly checking my phone, discussing the best hotel or airline reward schemes, and buying the latest gadgets to hopefully make my life more efficient. But despite every effort to keep abreast of the latest and greatest, I am overwhelmed trying to keep pace with technological changes. 

And I’m not alone.  In an Accounting Today article, “Top 100 Extra: Issues Facing the Profession”, it discusses the most important issues facing the accounting profession. Of 100 people interviewed, the words “technology” and “mobile/mobility” are mentioned 61 and 11 times, respectively! James Sikich, CEO of Sikich LLP, states it best:

“Technology is playing a critical role in the ways we, and our clients, do business. Firms that do not embrace new technologies available (like cloud computing, social networking, etc.) will be left far behind. And for many, given falling revenues and profits, developing the skill sets necessary to compete with firms already having a strong technology presence will prove to be a very expensive move. And many simply do not have the foresight to see this shift, or the leadership and knowledge base to make the necessary changes.”

In fact, in a recent Oxford Economics survey, respondents believe that mobile technology will provide the greatest positive impact on their business over the next five years. Because mobility is a must-have strategy for professional service firms, below are a few of my top SAP apps that are uniquely integrated for the mobile professional services lifestyle. These apps focus on the key benefits that mobile technology brings: speed and efficiency for critical and time-saving processes.  In this vein, I have excluded mobile technology concerning service delivery, since the majority of weighty client work is best delivered via computer.

Administrative Apps

1.       SAP Travel Receipt Capture – Using an iPhone or iPad, this SAP app allows one to capture photos of receipts, record voice notes to explain the expenses and then save these attachments to ERP software.  As any consultant knows, this reduces hours of administrative overhead and reduces the chances of inaccuracies, thereby allowing one to increase billable hours (or find time to go to the gym!).

2.       Employee Lookup – So many times I have found myself on the road, scrolling through old e-mails to find a contact that can answer my client’s question quickly.  Using SAP Employee Lookup on my iPhone, I can now connect and collaborate with my internal network easily at any time.  By typing in an employee name, I can view their profile and quickly call, send an e-mail or SMS.  By turning my phone 90 degrees to landscape view, I also have the ability to view the employee within their organizational hierarchy and contact others within his or her team. Not only does this feature saves time and eases frustration, but it also boosts productivity by allowing one to quickly retrieve an answers and continue on with their work.

Project Staffing/Management Apps

3.       Business Objects Mobile – Using the same Business Objects technology many are accustomed using on their computer, this app allows project managers to access key business intelligence data, analyze key metrics, discover trends and share insights instantly with others. SAP BusinessObjects Mobile is available for the Apple iPad, and works in both connected and disconnected modes. Accessing key information on a mobile device helps one make informed decisions faster and, more importantly, helps manage client relationships anywhere on the road.

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