What to look for when taking Epicor ERP mobile—and one place to find it all
Have you confronted the inefficiencies of the standard manufacturing ERP software? Have you decided to go mobile with your ERP so sales, field service and shop floor employees can access, update and enter the data they need from anywhere?
Great! You’re on the right road to greater efficiency and productivity already. Now it’s just a matter of finding a best-fit Epicor manufacturing ERP mobile app platform to meet all of your needs. And fortunately, on that, we have some advice.
What to Look for When Taking Epicor Mobile
As a team who’s spent our careers in the business of applying technology to manufacturing, we’ve steadily developed a list of essentials we suggest seeking in any ERP mobile application. You’re welcome to use this cheat sheet to get you started.
First up, security. Your ERP contains sensitive information and putting it on the internet is never a good idea. Definitely rule out any apps for manufacturing that don’t use a secure interface to keep your ERP locked down but allow for data entry, updating and search. It’s not even worth considering such a risky option.
COMPREHENSIVE DEVICE COMPATIBILITY / BYOD-FRIENDLY
You’ll want to make sure that any mobile ERP apps work natively on every type of device. If some employees prefer Android and others have Apple smartphones, you want the solution to work on both. Same thing goes for tablets. And don’t forget about wearables! These are becoming more important in manufacturing, so make sure the platform you select is flexible enough to leverage smartwatches and other emerging technologies as they become available.
It’s also not a bad idea to keep that retro PC or Apple workstation involved, too, with a web-based interface.
There are app developers who have focused on only a sliver of the ERP space. They may have only a warehouse app or a timekeeping tool. Many of these are pretty good, but the problem is, where do you go from there? If you’re seeking to maximize efficiency and productivity with mobile technology, you’ll want more options to meet the needs of employees throughout the company.
Depending on your technology ecosystem, it can be helpful to seek out Epicor ERP mobile apps with additional integrations. For example, you may want the platform to be able to pull in data from CRMs like Salesforce or work seamlessly with the eCommerce platforms you already use.
CUSTOMIZABLE TO YOUR PROCESSES
Technology shouldn’t dictate your operations. Any mobile solution should meld seamlessly with the way you do business today, rather than demanding that you overhaul to fit the developers’ preconceptions. That way, employees don’t have to relearn functions they already perform quickly and flawlessly—they just add technology to make them even more efficient.
BUILT-IN MAINTENANCE, SUPPORT AND ADVICE
I would caution against any Epicor mobile app that doesn’t include maintenance and support clearly in the price tag. You don’t want to buy in and then find out there are unexpected costs, as frequently happens with custom development, for example. Bonus points if the provider you select is intimately familiar with manufacturing and can really guide you through adapting the solution to your operations for maximum impact.
When evaluating product demos, do so from the perspective of the users you are targeting. Some of them will not have had reason to interact with the ERP in any fashion and you don’t want to set yourself up for a huge training hurdle or even failure to adopt.
The simpler and more focused an app can be on the particular functions needed to perform a job or task, the quicker it is to learn and use effectively. A great UI design that’s easy to read and navigate can’t hurt, either.
Talking about simple, intuitive functionality brings us to the most controversial recommendation on this list. We always suggest modular ERP mobile app platforms, where you can “plug and play” different apps for different needs.
This goes against the instinct to look for an “all in one” Epicor ERP add-on, but here’s why. There’s just too much going on in Epicor to put it easily on a small screen and ensure that the pick-and-pack team in the warehouse and the harried sales rep responding to 100 questions while on a customer site can quickly access what they need. In our experience, having separate apps for specific roles just works better.
Then there’s implementation. With a modular platform, you can deploy one app to digitize one process, get employees comfortable with the change, evaluate and customize further as necessary and only then move on. It’s a less risky and time-consuming approach than rolling out another monolithic ERP solution, only this time a mobile one.
For mid-market manufacturers, cost can be a challenge. Epicor ERP itself was probably a large financial undertaking, and getting more from that investment is essential. But there isn’t always a lot of budget to make it happen.
This is where a proven platform with transparent costs can provide financial confidence. Additional advantage is secured with modular implementation, so you can stage the ERP mobile transition in individually priced pieces, easing into it as budget and ROI allows.
Evaluating the Alternatives
You may have noticed that there is some tension in this list. Epicor ERP mobile apps should be comprehensive, applying to functions across the organization and integrating with CRMs and other key software. Yet they should also be simple, offering intuitive functionality specific to individual roles within the company. The mobile ERP solution should be customizable to your needs and processes but it shouldn’t require a risky and time-consuming ground-up development process to move forward.
For a long time, there wasn’t a solution available that could thread the needle in this way (trust us, as manufacturing consultants, we searched far and wide!)—that’s why our team created one.
This unified platform then supports individual applets we call bezls. We’ve developed a library of stand-alone Epicor mobile apps for manufacturing for such functions as purchase order receipt entry (with barcode scanning!), materials transfers and production labor tracking, to name a few.
These bezls are the starting place for a Bezlio-Epicor manufacturing implementation, but they don’t have to be the end. Any bezl can be quickly customized and we’re continually developing new bezls for clients. Because these “plug in” to our existing platform, even brand new apps can be created in very short timeframes and without the types of bugs and back-end integration and security problems that are common in custom development.
Through it all, clients still get that consulting feel, because our team happily lends our manufacturing technology expertise whenever it can be helpful in planning how and where to apply mobile ERP apps, analyzing processes to reflect them in an interface and so on. We’re consultants without the fees!
In fact, putting our heads together is the first step in the Bezlio process, which we’ve outlined in our implementation guide. Feel free to download that to find out how you could be well on your way to mobile Epicor ERP in just two hours, or contact us to walk through the options and the process. We’re always glad to chat!