If there is a new frontier in enterprise resource planning software, it's in the use of mobile devices. It only matches up with what is happening with mobile devices as a whole. According to Gartner Research, 40 percent of the global workforce will be using a mobile device, two-thirds of them on a smartphone. Microsoft Dynamics NAV has begun to take advantage of that development in its most recent edition, which is now designed to run on practically every mobile device. By understanding the potential for mobile use and overcoming some of the current pitfalls, manufacturers will be able to become more competitive in the economy.

A positive source of access
What makes using mobile in ERP so effective is the level of accessibility on all levels of a manufacturer, from the shop floor to the C suite. For example, running NAV modules on the mobile device will allow employees to have real-time visibility into any part of operations, as noted in ERP Software Blog. When customers ask for information on their orders, workers can respond immediately and tell them where everything is located. That can greatly improve the quality of service the company provides.

Another important advantage that using mobile ERP offers is improving productivity in several fronts. Rather than having to report jobs after they're done, a shop floor employee can easily update the progress of the project from his or her work area. If there's a shortage of a particular material, an alert can be sent out through the device without having to move, thus limiting slowdown. Equally essential, workers can better capture data while on the move. This is especially important in mobile warehouse management, where a staff member can quickly scan and input information about inventory through his or her smartphone. This saves companies time and money.

The most convenient factor of using mobile devices in ERP is the fact that they've become so ubiquitous, as ERP Focus notes. More importantly, because of the need to limit CPU and memory usage, mobile apps like Microsoft's MetaViewer are much simpler to use, easing training requirements.

Taking on some risks
Of course, mobile ERP isn't perfect by all means. There are certain amounts of risk involved. For example, IT must be prepared to handle any technical problems that stem from having multiple mobile devices trying to reach the same platform. Moving to the cloud and utilizing Web-based applications can minimize these problems some extent, though app management remains an issue.

A factor that is important to note is data security. In the event a mobile device is lost or stolen, customer and proprietary data are at risk of being compromised if there are no lockdown measures in place. Devices have to be protected from these situations, as well as standard computer threats such as malware.

Learn how to define your ERP strategy by downloading the white paper entitled "ERP in Manufacturing: Defining the ERP Strategy" from the DMS website today.