Why it’s still OK to Bespoke Enterprise Mobile Software

Why it’s still OK to Bespoke Enterprise Mobile Software

NewsFlash! Companies implement enterprise mobility systems to help them be more competitive whilst at the same time streamlining in field and back office processes.

Why it's still OK to Bespoke Enterprise Mobile SoftwareIn recent years it has become the norm for operational and IT teams to go for a pre-built application and if necessary change business processes to fit the parts where the app does not quite match with the working practices on the ground.

For some custom development is old fashioned and carries the stigma of being expensive and never ending. Both of these statements can be true and some high profile bespoke IT projects at the BBC and the NHS  do not help to overturn the perception.

 

The tools are out there to make producing an app a lot easier than it used to be. Modern Mobile Application Development Platforms (MEAP) have eliminated much of the black art around producing something that will work. It really is OK to bespoke an enterprise mobile enterprise mobile software.

Bespoke Enterprise Mobile Software 8 Things to Think About

  1. This approach can work for small numbers of users performing a very specific task. But the more users you have the more likely you will be able to justify an ROI for the project.
  2. Talk to someone who has either done something like this is a similar business process or a vendor who provides this sort of solution.
  3. Get your paper forms turned into an app as a prototype.
  4. Devise a plan for choosing which sort of device and OS will be suitable. Ensure your prototype runs on the target device satisfactorily. What is the expected life of these product?
  5. An app is useless unless you can connect it to something. Can you connect the data gathered to your ERP or CRM system. Is exporting it as a file or web service good enough? Find out first if you can make this integration and who will manage it.
  6. Write a comprehensive specification of how the whole solution will operate.
  7. Review the results with the people who actually carry out the process.
  8. By iteration tweak your prototype and repeat.

Why it's still OK to Bespoke Enterprise Mobile SoftwareIt’s still OK to bespoke enterprise mobile software. Get in touch to book a visit for us to discuss your requirements.

 

Top Enterprise Mobility Things To Think About 3 of 10

Top Enterprise Mobility Things To Think About 3 of 10

Top Enterprise Mobility Things To Think About 3 of 10

 

“How does the solution work if there is no network connectivity”

 

 

 

If may be hard to believe but wireless Wi-Fi and WWAN networks are not always available or reliable. In many scenarios your enterprise mobility app will need to be designed to contain all the business logic data and process it needs but residing on the handheld device itself. This enables functionality both online and offline by returning the unit back to a dock. Historically this is a common approach with .NET based devices. Same logic applies where Android or iOS are being used. Some apps like Direct Store Delivery are often used in physical environments where network access is spotty and going off to find coverage to compete a transaction would take too much time.

Where wireless or wired access is available mobile workers can communicate with host business systems in real-time. Make sure your remote app can automatically or on command send and receive queued transactions content and messages via a secure connection like Netmotion Mobility XE. Features such as this optimise user productivity while minimizing transmission costs.

"How does the solution work if there is no network connectivity"

The benefits of using Wireless either across Wi-Fi or WWAN are clear but make sure you allow for both on and off line scenarios.

Integration for Enterprise Mobile Applications

Integration for Enterprise Mobile Applications

Integration for Enterprise Mobile Applications 1The most common and sometimes most complex issue overlooked in a mobile project is how to connect to data in a host system often referred to as “back-end” data. With the vast array of ERP and business administration systems around integration for enterprise mobile applications can be a long process.

 

It is quite rare nowadays to find a company with no IT system in the back office. Usually it is the paper based system of the mobile workers that are the issue, with businesses focusing on mobile application features, rather than how to get data in and out from their existing systems. Commonly we see backend systems starting at the basic level of Excel and MS Access right up to complex systems such as SAP, MS Dynamics etc running on SQL or Oracle. With large companies running multiple systems.

Different development approaches will provide different integration paths. If coding using a platform there will be a number of integration options out of the box, if traditional coding it very much depends on the developers experience.

Integrating to systems is performed in two stages; one is pulling the data out of the host database of to use on the mobile devices, the second is to update or insert backend system records with results from the mobile device. Both can be performed via a number of simple routes, such as SQL queries, web service calls,  import and exporting CSV/XML or similar files and finally moving towards the complex end by using API’s (Application Programming Interface).

SQL queries can extract large amounts of data from specific tables or connect to a view (pre-configured table that’s results matches specific criteria) if one has already been setup. Some logic is probably required here to make sure records are not overwritten. Inserting/Updating back to an SQL database is usually performed per results set.

Web service calls provide real time access, which can also be called in the field over 3G. This method is OK where result sets are small. Some time can be saved as the web service will have already been provided by the host software company. As above some logic is probably required here to make sure records are not overwritten.

Importing/Exporting CSV, XML files can be easily done on a batch process and avoids the complexities of coding the API. We tend to find this is used an interim/testing process, but can also reliable when live. The issue is it does tend to add another failure point. Once again some logic is probably required here to make sure records are not overwritten.

Using an API means the solution can be coded to call specific function and parse the given data. The API essentially handles all the data and updates the correct areas of the back-end system. An API integration can be a seamless full integration, but is also the most time consuming and requires knowledge of both the mobile and back-end systems. It can also mean continual high development costs if the complete solution is ever changing.

There are numerous other options and varieties of the above. The choice made is very much dependent on questions about the integration options the backend system can provide and accomodate.

Key Integration Questions

  1. How many users need to access the data.
  2. How many need to access it at any one time.
  3. How many results and results sets there are.
  4. Are results sent one at a time or in batch.
  5. How are the mobile devices updated.
  6. Does data reside on the mobile devices.
  7. How do devices receive new data
  8. Is the data all stored in one location.
  9. What is hte nature of the in house systems architecture.
  10. how many systems require updating.
  11. What are the redundancy and failover setups……the list can go on !

In the first phase of testing the integration is usually the major testing piece as if data doesn’t flow correctly the solution is somewhat useless. No matter what backend system is being integrated to as long as a detailed testing plan is drawn up and completed there is much greater chance of project success. A key factor in your long term return on investment.

Not discussed in this blog is how integration for enterprise mobile applications can differ from consumer to enterprise applications. Well…. An enterprise application should be a complete solution capable of seamlessly integrating into in house backend system literally a modern day lynchpin. A consumer application downloaded from an Application Store connects to the developers hub and if possible may connect to in house data. Generally this is not the case and they operate standalone or semi-standalone.

How can we help you with Integration for Enterprise Mobile Applications ? Learn More

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