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Advanced Mobility Enablement in Procurement

From identification of requirements to payments to a supplier, Procurement is a humongous process concerned with the purchase of goods & services that are vital to organizations. For a company that deals with thousands of purchase orders/transactions on a typical business day, streamlining workflows & reducing cycle times improves the overall productivity of employees & in the bottom line of businesses. However, procurement sees a delay in the purchasing process involving many activities such as identification of supplier sources, selection of supplier, authorizations for PO transactions from managers & receipt # generation for goods received at receiving docks. Though managers get notifications by emails whenever a procurement action is pending, the probability of emails getting lost is high. While some enterprises understood the need for mobile approvals & have implemented mobile approval solutions, some enterprises are evaluating various vendors & technologies for mobilizing workflows. On the other hand, handheld computers/devices in the warehouses are wearing out & are unable to meet current business requirements. For example, a transaction that has many details takes time to upload to EBS & does not allow a user to process other transactions. Because these devices are old, they don’t offer multi-tasking & cannot store much data locally & sync later. With the proliferation of mobile devices, apps can be used by employees to validate documents and upload relevant information from any part of the company. Therefore, managers & warehouse employees can easily send real-time information, which can be monitored by the accounts department instantly. With an application that extends the functionality of an e-sourcing solution to mobile devices, buyers can perform many of the same functions on the road as they could at their desk. Whether they need to look up past event data – including specific vendors, categories, or dates – to leverage for a current bid, contact key personnel, or organize and stay on top of multiple ongoing events, mobility will ensure that conferences and out-of-town meetings won’t impede procurement pros from doing their job effectively. With the latest Mobility Enablement Procurement technologies,  procurement personnel can perform more.

Many procurement groups continue to struggle for influence within their companies – in large part because they remain trapped by decades-old paradigms that are far too prevalent.

To meet latest requirements, decision makers are planning to migrate from legacy mobile transportation and logistics solutions designed to run on Windows Mobile/CE operating systems to more modern platforms such as Android, iOS. Warehouse technology decision makers are evaluating various options available in the market for improving employee’s productivity. Some common points warehouse decision makers considering are to look for a device that is modern and simple to use as the smartphone we use regularly. Enterprises need devices that will last for years & with all the features required to improve employee’s productivity and keep data secure. Knowing these needs, rugged device manufacturers such as Zebra & Honeywell are releasing new devices that are rugged, pocket friendly, & contemporary.

From an application point of view, warehouse decision makers are looking for simplified task-specific screens, device-specific capabilities and user experience to make interactions with procurement applications more appealing and impactful, which may improve user adoption. They are not looking for applications that span all users and all use cases with as much functionality as they can identify. This results in apps that often have 30 or more screens. Very simply, mobile apps need to be specific to the role, use case and, often, the business process and function.

Vendors such as Propel Apps, Previously Algarytm, offer turn-key mobile solutions for every use case that provide better access to procurement applications for individuals on the go and ensure quicker procurement cycle times. At Propel Apps, we understand that corporate policies vary from one organization to another. So, we developed apps that are fully customizable to meet client’s requirements & policies. Propel Apps offers IT managers complete end-to-end mobile enablement solutions with flexibility to be incorporated into the existing IT infrastructure over time.

See: Procurement Apps for ERP.

Why Mobility arose in Procurement?

  1. Task specific mobile applications simplify user interactions on mobile
  2. Ability to access anywhere anytime; No possibility to carry laptops etc.
  3. Need for Real time data
  4. Offline Storage
  5. Less clunky & easy to use
  6. Quicker cycle times with purchase orders and approvals

Advanced Mobile Enablement  in Procurement

With the advancements in mobile technology, companies are creating new business models, improving existing business processes and employee’s productivity and so on. Advanced mobile enablement goes beyond the ability of a provider to offer a native “app” or responsive design capability for its desktop solutions displayed on a smartphone or tablet device. The functionality available on an advanced mobile platform should not mirror but indeed be different than what is on a desktop. For example, it should include functionality custom designed to take advantage of the mobile device, such as geo-data and IP-data that can be used to provide location-aware and context-aware guidance, advice and even functionality to users.

“Mobility will not change. Only the features & form factors will.”

  • GPS & Geo Fencing.
  • SSO/Multiple Logins – Saving Passwords & Fingerprint capability for authentication
  • AI
  • VPN Access
  • MDM & MAM
  • Simplicity & Flexibility in Implementation

Geo-Fencing

Geofencing is a location-based service that triggers an action when a GPS enabled device enters a virtually defined geographical boundary. From notifications to engagement features and security alerts — businesses are finding creative ways to use these virtual boundaries.  Functionality that uses mobile-specific capabilities such as camera or geolocation is becoming more common in transactional procurement solutions, making it more important for buyers to evaluate their vendors’ mobile strategies.

WMS users can set geofencing areas and get alerts if equipment or assets marked with RFID tags leave or enter geofencing area. System can also automatically trigger required business processes on asset’s crossing the configured a geo-fencing area boundaries.

AI

Artificial Intelligence automates complex tasks & accelerates the use and value realization of mobile procurement technology using natural-language processing and use of bots. AI, through truly artificial intelligent applications running on platforms built by IBM, Facebook, Google, and others, brings purchases under direct control by facilitating the creation of requisitions from free-form data like that contained in an email – not just data entered into a requisition entry screen. Smart Agents & digital assistants are poised to change the requisition and approval process for busy and off-site workers. For example, “AI” in Procurement could automate within the P2P side of things between the raising of a Purchase Order to the receipting of goods/services and the subsequent payment when an invoice is received. This can increase throughput and reduce physical resource costs.

Also, using image recognition technology from mobile, employees can send a picture of an item they wish to order or reorder, again simplifying the requisition process and making it likely that more spend is being actively managed. AI will also be trusted to review and even generate and monitor supplier contracts, automating a typically labor-intensive set of tasks.

See: AI is the one of the Top investment priorities of the mobility leaders

MDM & MAM

Data accessed through mobile devices is prone. So, enterprises shall take all necessary measures to avoid data leaks & misuses. A worthy solution should include all the capabilities required to manage and secure platforms, including mobile device management (MDM), mobile applications management (MAM), mobile content management (MCM), a secure enterprise workspace, user self-service and real-time compliance reporting. Also provided should be the broadest range of security options, including secure remote access, identity and access management (IAM), encryption and policy management, data loss protection (DLP) and remote wipe.

See: Essential Elements to consider for Enterprise Mobile Strategy

Simplicity & Flexibility

Another crucial customer need for advanced mobile enablement is IT simplicity. IT managers are reluctant to introduce solutions that are difficult to incorporate, support, train on, etc. The most attractive solutions to IT are ones that simplify these processes and offer a broader solution set that demonstrably works together and are flexible in incorporating the solutions into the existing IT infrastructure.