Tip Tuesday: Mobile Apps! What are they good for?

Andy Woodward
By: Andy Woodward
Date: May 02, 2017

Mobile phone use is ubiquitous. Whether it’s the latest post on Instagram or Snapchat, watching a funny video on YouTube, or instant messaging with friends, we love our phones and what we can do with them. The use of mobile devices has also permeated the work environment, allowing workers to break the bonds of their personal workstations while still being able to perform their daily work functions. Since we are already tied to these devices, let’s take a look at how we can allow our workforce to take advantage of the technology that we so adore, specific to Infor ERP systems.

Take action

mobile-supply-chainCurrently, Infor has a plethora of mobile applications available on the iPhone App Store and Android Google Play. These apps can perform a variety of specific functions across the Finance, Supply Chain and Human Capital Management applications. The capabilities of each application is designed to perform functions that are limited entry, quick response or inquiry-type functions. No, you won’t be performing your core system interaction with these applications nor would you want to. I can’t imagine trying to enter journal entries or invoices into a mobile device for two to three minutes, let alone two to three hours. What they can do is free you from running back to your desk when you just need to approve something in your in basket or check for an item in another location when you run out of it in your department or unit.

Secure access

Being an IT guy, whenever the topic of mobile connectivity arises, the discussion of networking and security always top the list of concerns. From a networking perspective, let’s assume that we are only talking internal (intranet) access, as in using mobile capabilities while at the work location. Most companies have internal wireless access for employees. The notion of accessing corporate system data from outside the confines of the network firewall evokes heightened emotions, so I will save that topic for another time. I have noticed a lot more laptops accompanying users to meetings, so availability of internal, wireless access will not be an alien concept for most.

I recently decided to go through the available applications on the App Store (Sorry Android fans, but I caved and switched to an iPhone a few years ago after suffering thru some of the early Android releases and limited apps. I know it’s much better now.). What I found were apps of all sorts, so with the help of my colleagues who manage our internal servers, we made a few small changes that allowed me to see what these apps could do. It was at this point, that I discovered the ‘limited’ nature of these apps, but not in a negative context.

As with the limited functionality of self-service applications that we currently use, the mobile apps, in most cases, takes this a step farther. The applications utilize the same authentication that is being used by the core applications at your desk. This means that you are logging in with the same ID and password that you use on your workstation. This also means that you have the same application security policies that prohibit access to any application or data that you are not normally allowed to access in your core job responsibilities.

Additionally, the limited capability of these applications further restrict the functions, and consequently the data, that is accessible. With the exception of Mobile Employee, where employees can view a limited set of their own personal data, including pay history, I didn’t observe any violations of exposing personal identifiable information (PII) short of your name. If needed, you can always restrict certain functions from being accessible from employees’ mobile devices.

Encourage collaboration, improve productivity, keep employees happy

All in all, mobile access is a win-win for employers and employees. Embracing and understanding the technology can further free employees to be productive throughout the day. Whether you are a Boomer, Gen-X, Gen-Y or Millennial, mobile devices are a part of our work lives and they’re here to stay. Let’s take advantage of any efficiencies they can offer.

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