One of the most significant benefits of an ERP system is access to enterprise-wide data connecting functional areas under a single source of truth that is accessible to all users. It’s no wonder that the anywhere, anytime access consumers covet with their personal mobile devices is an easy match that companies can take advantage of. However, this match needs to be carefully managed and there are special considerations to be aware of.

Consumers are adopting smart device technology at a growing rate and have been for years. This past year, adoption of smart phones rose above 50%. In conjunction with this, 75.5% of companies support some kind of bring-your-own-device (BYOD) policy. These are trends that are expected to continue. ERP vendors are recognizing this and most are either developing or have already developed mobile applications that allow access to their ERP system from a smart device.

The most significant consideration when switching to mobile technology is protecting your company’s data. With enterprise-wide access available anywhere, employees have access to sensitive information and even store it on their devices. This is a risk because devices are vulnerable to malware downloaded unintentionally with other applications. In an internal environment, your data travels across only your network but on a mobile device at least two networks are involved – your company’s and the network the device is connected to. This may be a cell network or a home wi-fi network, neither of which your IT department has control over.

Data also must be tracked effectively in order to sufficiently meet audit and compliance standards. Stolen or lost devices present an additional risk as do disgruntled employees who are terminated but do not delete the apps for your company’s ERP software. These issues can be mitigated with a carefully devised BYOD policy which fits your company’s IT requirements. The more significant point is that you need to pay very special attention to what ERP and BYOD mean for your system’s security.

In addition to being able to secure your data, you need to be ready to support multiple platforms and operating systems. It’s easy to set Internet Explorer as your internal preferred browser but mobile devices have just as many browsers available and users will use whichever ones they want on their personal devices.

Mobile ERP access is also provided through apps on multiple device operating systems. Android and iOS are equally adopted among consumers while Microsoft adoption rates are just beginning to take hold. At some point, each BYOD user is going to call your IT department with a question on why their device isn’t accessing your ERP system. The problem may be browser-specific or operating system-specific and your team needs to be ready to help solve the problem in a timely manner. Otherwise, valuable IT resources are wasted and end-users become frustrated.

Every company that embarks on an ERP implementation will be faced with the choice of whether or not to allow mobile access to their ERP system. It can be a daunting decision but it is manageable if your BYOD strategy is clearly defined to manage risk and maximize the benefits of access to any data, any function, anywhere, by any employee.

Written by Adam Cheatham, ERP Consultant at Panorama Consulting Solutions.

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