Clearly, We’ve Gone Mad
The idea of building an app without code for an enterprise resource planning (ERP) platform probably sounds like the most improbable idea out there. I mean, how could you possibly develop a no- or low-code app for such a complex, data-rich system? One that most, if not all, of your employees use. One that houses a wealth of business data being accessed day and night, 24/7. One that controls a variety of critical business processes. A system that essentially is your business.
I’ll give you this — the disbelief is logical and understandable. I don’t need to tell you about the complexity of an ERP. If you’re reading this, you’ve likely already undergone the process of planning, building, configuring, testing, re-testing, deploying, and refining an ERP.
(And I’d wager it didn’t go as smoothly as you’d have liked. In a recent report covering 2018 ERP software, 79 percent of ERPs took longer than expected to implement, 66 percent of new ERPs caused critical operational disruptions, and satisfaction with implementation dropped from 81 percent to 42 percent. Yikes.)
None of this has to happen when it comes time to mobilize your ERP. The truth is, building an app with no or low code isn’t as unlikely as you might think. (That is, after all, why we’re here.) But first, what exactly are no and low code development platforms, and what are the benefits apart from the obvious?
Benefits of Building an App with Low or No Code
At a high level, using a no- or low-code development platform to build a mobile ERP app provides you with all the tools and functionality you need to prototype, develop, and scale an ERP application with — you guessed it — little to no coding.
No-code development platforms are primarily drag-and-drop systems that enable rapid mobile application development. This is extremely useful for large organizations — such as those with ERPs — that need an app built and launched quickly and for a sizable user base. Developers can work without much risk here, as it’s simply a matter of using the tools available to build the workflow stream needed and ensuring it functions properly
Low-code development platforms provide the same drag-and-drop tools, but they add the ability to customize the software for greater functionality. The application can be designed to do more, with more, for more. Developers have more freedom to create more complex workflows, set up more integrations, and so on. But with that freedom comes a price: the need to verify data, test for accuracy, and of course, ensure the security of that data.
In both instances, these platforms provide developers with tools, scripts, and integrations to other databases and services. These integrations are critical, as they extend the core application’s ability to do what the organization needs it to do. In this case, the application needs to integrate with an ERP system.
So, How Does This Help with Building an App for ERP Data?
Faster Development Time
Remember how 79 percent of ERP implementations took longer than expected? If yours was one of them, that probably wasn’t a fun time to be in IT. While a mobile app is a completely different development and implementation process, it still stands that the last thing you and your team need is to spend another lengthy process in building out a mobile app (only to find that the app and the ERP won’t play nice, and suddenly, you’re back to square one).
And keep in mind that when your ERP was implemented, a good deal of thought was given to how non-desk workers — whether field service or not — would (or would not) be able to make use of the ERP. A solution may not have been readily available at the time, resulting in these employees being able to only do work requiring ERP data during in-office days or through periodic check-ins on different, non-field devices. Not a good system.
Low- and no-code mobile application development, particularly platforms like Bezlio that are designed for ERP app development and integration, provide you with the tools and resources needed to mobilize your ERP data efficiently — and put it in the hands of all your workers, regardless of location, time of day, connectivity, and more. In our case, it can be set up in less than a day.
More Customization Options
Building an app with no or low code through an appropriate development platform means you get the flexibility you need as most platforms come stocked with the interfaces, integrations, and other elements needed to get up and running quickly.
For ERPs, a low-code development platform provides the foundation and structure for your mobile app. All you need to do is place the door frames and choose the data that goes in and out of them. While there are many ERPs in the market, you’ll want to ensure your specific application is supported first, though custom integrations are possible. For example, Bezlio currently integrates with more than 20 ERPs, CRMs, databases, and other platforms.
Let’s also not forget the reason for building an app with no or low code: users. Your ultimate goal is to put this app into your users’ hands. Depending on your enterprise mobility setup, your users may not be on the same device type. Some users will have iPhones and others will have Android phones.
On top of that, some users’ devices may be leading edge while others are lagging behind. Your organization may also employ a bring-your-own-device (BYOD) approach, allowing users to run the application on a non-company-owned device. Whatever your mobility setup is, your users still need to use the app on a device for their daily work.
For ERP application development, platform agnosticism should be an absolute requirement. Even if your users are platform-specific, you’ll be able to quickly adapt should your mobility environment change in the future. At Bezlio, we allow developers to build ERP apps for virtually any OS and device, allowing all your users to benefit from one-time development.
On the application development timeline, “completion” is just another checkmark on the list. Testing comes next, followed by more testing and revising, and then finally deployment. But even that isn’t the finish line. (And in reality, there probably won’t be one for a while, nor should there be since the app must be refined continually until it’s as perfect as it can be).
Building an app with no or low code means you’re able to get an app for your ERP data into users’ hands faster than ever. Build quickly, test quickly, and deploy quickly — all so your field sales and service teams have the data they need, exactly when they need it. This allows them to leverage and adopt the app sooner than a full custom-coded app, with ample time for adjustments on your end as needed.
Even if service levels were high and sales were already strong, imagine the impact you’ll see in sales cycles and customer service levels if these two fundamental groups within your organization have access to ERP, CRM, and other data on-the-fly.
Lower Overall Cost
Full coding requires experienced application developers — employees that themselves require greater investment. And unless you have a relaxed development timeline, you’ll probably need more than one. This is where building an app with no or low code comes in handy. Less experienced and expensive talent can still take the plunge, even with an app for an ERP system. And because it’s flexible and faster to deploy, overall costs are reduced.
You Bring the Data, We’ll Bring the Platform
You already have the ERP data. You just need to mobilize it. You don’t need to build a completely custom application from scratch. Discover how our no-code/low-code development platform can help you get your ERP data in the field in as little as one day. Get started now.
Adam Ellis, Co-Founder & CEO
Adam Ellis is the Chief Executive Officer of Bezlio and one of four co-founders. Adam is a lifelong entrepreneur and has extensive ERP and mobile software knowledge through his consulting and management experience. He has a passion for exploring innovative ideas and how they can change the status quo. Connect with Adam on LinkedIn to learn more about his involvement in the ERP space.