Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Business value of B2E apps

Thanks to the consumerization of information technology and the app store phenomenon Enterprise Mobile Applications are moving away (thankfully) from clunky form driven screens. B2E apps are now expected to provide polished and guided business process with zero learning curve. This of course is a mixed blessing. On one hand there is more up front work in mobile projects to “get it right”. On the other hand when successful there are many benefits to change management, training, process conformity, and increased throughput.
If you already have a case to replace an existing desktop or paper based solution then it will pay to consider “mobile first” where the new solution has mobile components or is entirely mobile based. However if you are proposing to mobilise an existing process then it is important to concentrate on real business value to successfully compete for funds. I like to think of two general benefit categories for Enterprise Mobile Applications. Less Bad and More Good!
Less Bad
·         Eliminating double handling
·         Less paperwork
·         Less travel
·         Inventory holdings can be smaller
·         Mistakes are reduced
·         Less time to up skill new resources

More Good
·         Information is more accurate
·         Information is more timely
·         React more quickly
·         Process more work
·         Plan and schedule more accurately
·         Enable process conformity
·         Spend more time on business activity rather than on IT admin

These general buckets are great for a high level discussion. However when it comes to preparing a business case a more thorough investigation of mobile applications and functionality is required. I’ve compiled a short list by Mobile Application of some typical benefits.
Employee Self Service
Employees are empowered to enter leave/timesheet/expenses directly into their mobile device. The employees can more easily enter the activity when it happens rather than at the end of the week or month.
Benefits:
·         Reduce trips into the office just to do admin
·         Eliminate the need for a VPN token to access  a laptop remotely
·         Information is more accurate – resulting in fewer credit notes
·         Information is timelier – resulting in better planning, reporting, and resulting actions
·         Reduce double handling e.g. taking down timesheets on paper forms and sending them into the office.
·         Photograph/scan receipts directly with the expense claim

CRM / Sales
Employees can access customer and sales activity information at the point of business. Existing data can be updated or new data can be entered at the customer site.
Benefits:
·         Information (customers, activities, sales) is more accurate
·         Reduce double handling e.g. taking down notes and retyping them later
·         Act on customer leads/opportunities/sales in real time
·         Be better prepared for customer facing engagements
·         Spend more time with customers and less time in the office

Service / Plant Maintenance / Asset Maintenance
Employees can receive and view jobs in the field. Jobs can be transacted through to completion and new jobs can be created while on site. Assets can be inspected, updated, and created on the fly.
Benefits:
·         Information (jobs, assets, customers) is more accurate
·         Reduce double handling e.g. taking down notes and retyping them later
·         Easier to plan and schedule workforce
·         React to changes more quickly
·         Less need to travel to the office
·         Take payment directly in the field
·         Print customer receipts in the field
·         Scan and interface directly to data
·         Process conformity

Stock Take
Employees can capture and/or scan counts directly into a mobile device.
Benefits:
·         Reduce time to complete stocktake
·         Reduce paperwork
·         Less count errors
·         Enable more frequent stocktake
·         Enable guided and/or blind stocktakes
·         Enable cycle counting
·         Print new labels
·         Process conformity

Proof of Delivery
Enable employees to receive a schedule of deliveries on a mobile device. While on site enable the update of delivery, inventory, and AR data. Capture customer signatures and take payments at the customer location.
Benefits:
·         Reduction of paperwork
·         Information timeliness
·         Inventory accuracy
·         Improve DIFOT
·         Cash reconciliation simplified
·         AR position accuracy
·         Capture customer signature
·         Reduction of errors and credit notes

Mobile Training & Documentation
Enable employees to receive documentation out in the field to support training and/or OH&S.
Benefits:
·         Push reminders and documents to employees
·         Ensure process conformity
·         Reduce need to travel
·         OH&S

Mobile Inventory/ Warehouse Management
Enable employees to transact receipts, transfers, and other inventory movements with a mobile device and/or scanner.
Benefits:
·         Information is more timely
·         Eliminate errors
·         Eliminate reliance on paperwork
·         Scan documents, inventory, and locations
·         Improve DIFOT

Most organisations have limited funds and plenty of potential candidates for investment. Hopefully the above tips will help when formulating a case for B2E mobile applications. 

Edit 2015 - This topic has proven very popular and been syndicated across many sites. I've included a revised and more detailed version on the entire business case process in my book Enterprise Mobile Tips and Tricks