Nowadays, no industry in which small and medium-sized businesses operate is immune from huge competitive pressures. Demands on IT technologies are increasing. The quality and availability of internal company information – about supply and demand, competitors and partners, resources, and the company’s supply chain – play a decisive role for a company’s success and growth over the long-term. That is why many companies use high-performance Enterprise Resource Planning systems (ERP) to handle their business processes, especially for procurement, production, logistics, and sales. These ERP systems ensure that a company’s data and other information is systematically collected and made available in a targeted manner.
- Zen & CSP
- Mobile Devices
- Content creation
Things are no different at Weicon, a family-owned company with global operations based in Münster, Germany. Weicon produces special adhesives and sealants for all industrial applications, and depends on the bertaplus ERP system from the developers at Global ERP in Hamburg. bertaplus was specifically developed for the requirements of company operations in the area of wholesale and logistics, and is based on InterSystems Caché® high performance database. Thanks to InterSystems’ innovative technology, bertaplus brings accessing company data to a completely new level.
Global ERP makes bertaplus available for Weicon as on-demand software in a private cloud. Independent of location and end-device, the system allows users secure access to detailed real-time data about their business processes. Weicon employees based outside of Germany also take advantage of the system via secure VPN connections Weicon has agencies in the Middle East, Canada, Turkey, and Romania, and exports goods to more than 70 countries. Weicon’s customers have a special customer portal with ordering functionality and direct access to current orders and product data.
Mobile access to real-time information from the ERP system allows a wide range of applications, particularly for representatives out in the field. Weicon, an adhesives specialist, places great importance on up-to-date information for its sales representative when they’re on location with customers. The 30-member sales team works in Germany and its neighboring countries, as well as Romania, Turkey, the Middle East, and North America. When they’re on the road, they often require access to ERP information and functionality. “Previously, our sales associates called headquarters on their cell phones from the customer’s parking lot to update their present status,” Herbert Pollmann, Weicon’s IT manager recalls.
In 2005, the team was given BlackBerrys so they could use standard functions such as email and also update customer details. More importantly, however, they could now also access current product specifications, availability information, and other data from bertaplus. The CSP technologies easily fulfilled all these requirements.
In about four weeks, Global ERP was able to develop a new user interface for mobile functionality. “We optimized the GUI for the mobile devices’ smaller screens and simply did without the graphic elements,” says Karsten Preuss, CEO of Global ERP. Despite this, users didn’t have to forego any important functionality; the mobile interface takes advantage of the same application logic as the “large-scale” bertaplus. “Most important for us was that the additional user interface didn’t require new coding that would have been updated separately,” Preuss says. Access to the ERP data from the field is controlled by bertaplus via flexible authorization management: employees are only allowed access to their customers’ data and other enabled information.
Since that time, the rapid development of mobile devices increasingly powerful hardware and the growing distribution of smartphones and tablet computers has opened up new opportunities for mobile. In 2012, Weicon additionally provided its sales associates with iPads. These versatile tablet computers with the larger screens made working easier, and they can be used more flexibly in customer meetings. “The use of mobile devices in sales as well as in other areas leads to completely new ways of working and interacting, and to new control pathways,” says Karsten Preuss. Sales associates can, for instance, use their iPads to pull up customer information regarding outstanding orders, sales figures, invoices, and receipt of payments as well as find to out about delivery times and customer-specific pricing information. Customized for mobile device touchscreens, the user interface now offers countless opportunities for engagement. “If an invoice number shows up anywhere, you just have to touch it and you immediately see all the details,” says Pollmann, Weicon’s IT manager.
Thanks to the innovative InterSystems technology, bertaplus brings accessing company data to a completely new level.
The browser-based application also ensures that data acquisition from the field remains easy to input for instance visit reports. This means Weicon can handle an increasing number of processes without the use of paper. Expensive data sheets no longer have to be printed up, nor do they have to be laboriously updated at just the push of a button bertaplus can generate data sheets with the latest information for more than 800 items. Since none of the data needs to be saved directly on the mobile device, this also increases data security: if a device gets lost, no confidential customer data can end up in the wrong hands.
Beginning in 2013, Weicon is planning to equip additional departments with iPads. Warehouse employees, for example, will now be able to access warehouse controls from wherever they are via bertaplus; including viewing a graphic of what has been stored where within the warehouse.