Monday, February 10, 2014

Realtrac ERP Software Development Team - Tablet & Mobile Compatibility

Greetings from the Realtrac ERP Software Development Headquarters,

As detailed in our last blog entry, we are now finishing up the Beta testing stage of our new Realtrac 10 ERP system. Feedback is great and we're continuing to add polish to what we believe will be a great product to our existing and future customers. We took a very aggressive plan in rewriting Realtrac; Starting from scratch (we literally had a white board, some markers and chairs on our first day of work) to Alpha testing in just about a years’ time. We're really proud of the speed we were able to produce the product while maintaining quality.

But the world doesn't stand still in a vacuum over the course of that year. We continued our dialog with our customers over that year, and the feedback was nearly unanimous. In 2014, our customers and the market expect integration with mobile devices. What started out as a "To Do After Product Launch" became a mandatory feature we needed to have complete for our introduction of Realtrac 10. We're a nimble team that is ready to pivot on a dime, so we launched right in to figuring out what we wanted to build and how we were going to build it.

Everyone internally and externally agreed with that premise, but we still needed to approach the problem with caution. What problems did we need the mobile application to solve? Many of our interfaces were already developed and had been tested; we didn't want to throw out existing work to support this new ERP software.

Luckily, inspiration for what we wanted to achieve with the mobile app wasn't difficult. Early in the process of talking with customers, we saw a near universal problem: Data Quality. The quality of data within an Enterprise Resource Planning (or, as we like to say, within an Easy Resource Planning) software is critical. One specific pain point to manufacturing shops is getting employees to log in and out of jobs, to log completed pieces and scrap quantities. Realtrac can only provide data as good as the inputs, so when users forget to log in to jobs, forget to log out or neglect to input piece counts, the quality of data suffers. As soon as the data suffers management and administration's trust in the data falls.

As we launch the Realtrac 10 ERP System, we will also be releasing our Realtrac mobile client to the Apple App Store. The Realtrac mobile client is designed to allow shop floor employees to log in and out of jobs directly from their phone or mobile device. At launch we will support the Apple ecosystem. The app requires iOS 7 and the software will function great on iPhone, iPod and iPads alike. The Realtrac server PC must be connected to the internet for the software to function. Your shop floor employees will be able to log in and out of jobs, log in to multiple jobs at the same time and register both completed and scrapped pieces. Employees can receive notifications so if they do manage to leave work without logging out of a job, they can be reminded. Have no fear Android fans, we've got plans in place for an Android version as well.
Customers can choose how they want to implement this ERP System. We've talked with customers that have deployment plans that run across the spectrum. Some plan to buy and install devices around the shop to act like in place terminals. This plan mirrors the Realtrac 9 Microterminal product (hardware devices with a small form factor that communicated with the Realtrac 9 server via a serial connection). Some are considering letting their employees use the ERP software on their own personal devices, and some are even considering buying devices for each of their employees to use for this purpose.

We expect our customers will immediately see an improvement in the quality of their data. This should lead to much better costing and quality data in the Realtrac ERP system, which is a true benefit for everyone involved. Getting a handle on the true costs of jobs means management can tell which jobs truly are profitable, and help the business get more of those jobs.
Realtrac ERP Software and ERP System
This is just our first foray in mobile development. We are already working on an application to aid in the training of our Realtrac users, and expect to follow up with a mobile dashboard style application in the future as well. We'd love to hear from current customers and manufacturing shops in general on what you'd like to see in a mobile application. 

Think we're on the right track? Let us know.

(This post discusses ERP software that is currently in development and testing. Not all functionality is guaranteed.)