So the Minneapolis software firm is rolling out its newest wave of self-service applications that will allow power users to design their own reports, forms, and charts for Lawson's Insight enterprise resource planning software and other software systems integrated with Lawson's product.
"Power users who are familiar with applications can build reports without IT and they can make the system interact with them or interact with their users any way they want," said David Dobrin, analyst at Benchmarking Partners, in Cambridge, Massachusetts. "The problem is that in many companies, nonprogrammers need to be able to create business Web pages that their customers, suppliers, or employees can understand and use without having to involve a programmer."
The tools are also fully Web-enabled, meaning that users of the tools build the reports or charts from a Web browser.
The application designer suite comes with three modules: a form designer, chart designer, and report designer. All three were created with the idea that the user will need to be able to use the products with minimal or no training.
Besides building the forms and other items, the software system also allows users to define who in the company can access the reports or charts and who can deliver the information across the Internet or an internal intranet.
Salt Lake City-based Harman Management, the largest franchisee of Kentucky Fried Chicken stores, is using the system to write and deliver information on shipments, invoices, inventory, and other pertinent information to its store managers spread out around the country. Before the system, much of that information was disseminated by mail to the stores, a slow process that didn't allow the company to react quickly to market changes or other demands.
"Our managers should be cooking and selling chicken," said Michael Hasse, MIS director at Harman. We don't want them in the office reading mail and sifting through reports."
Lawson is the latest of the enterprise resource planning vendors to start adding tools to their software products that will let companies create a means of using the data to better the business. Until now, most of the enterprise resource planningSA systems simply collected data but provided few tools for analyzing that data or putting it to use to cut margins, decrease inventory, or react to market changes.
The products are available now.