Platform freedom of choice for ERP

Your business should have the freedom to choose the platforms on which your ERP solution runs – whether that might be one operating system across the organisation, or a combination of many.

April 4, 2013

By Taryn Cromie, sales and channel management, HansaWorld South Africa

Nobody really likes to be told what to do, especially if that instruction is arbitrary or limiting in any way. That’s why your business should have the freedom to choose the platforms on which your ERP solution runs – whether that might be one operating system across the organisation, or a combination of many.

With the option to use any operating system and any devices, you gain the flexibility of standardising on one ERP solution or choosing whichever device is best for any one division or group of workers: Apple machines for the graphics department, Windows 7 devices for the administrative staff, Android tablets for the salespeople and Windows 8 convertibles for the executive suite.

And why not – most directors appreciate that there are relative strengths and weaknesses to every operating system or device class. If your ERP solution works across them all, you’re put in a position where you can optimise technology in the workplace to benefit from the advantages while reducing the impact of any disadvantages.

Bring your own: any device
That’s not all; if your ERP solution works on any device and any operating system, employees can use whatever works best for them.

In today’s day and age, the game is changing and fast. No longer does the IT department have complete control over users. More informed and more assertive information workers increasingly have their own preferences. This goes well beyond the choice of company car and extends to the devices we use to get our work done and organise our personal lives.

It started with the cellphone, but today most of us want a single computer and a single smartphone. Company-issued devices aren’t considered the perk they once were; for many, a second smartphone and a second laptop means double the hassle and twice the luggage. In many instances, workers will arrive with their own laptop and their own smartphone. Increasingly, they will arrive with a tablet, too.

Keeping those resources happy is one thing, keeping them productive is quite another. If you’re unable to achieve both goals, the chances are considerably greater that they won’t stay. Those companies which have the organisational maturity, backed with systems flexibility, to enable workers to use the devices they prefer (and to work in the way they choose) stand to win.

Extend your reach
Most companies today don’t start and finish within their own four walls. Increasingly, the systems of key suppliers and customers are integrated with your ERP solution to create an extended enterprise. If that’s the case for your business, just how easy (or difficult) it is to achieve integration with the outside world depends on how well your system plays with other platforms. If your ERP is a limiting factor, it may be inhibiting the productivity of your business while also causing a knock-on effect with your partners and customers.

When it comes to compatibility and the freedom to choose how you, your employees and the companies with which you interact, you should be the boss. Deciding what can and can’t be used, from a device perspective, should be a choice you make – and not that of the vendor which provides your ERP solution.