Category Archive: Enterprise Mobility

Managing to Minimum Viable Product – MVP

One of the keys to successful mobile, web and cloud application development is understanding, managing, developing and deploying a minimum viable product or MVP.  In the software industry we understand the importance of MVP.  Getting a product in the hand of users is critical. We often say “There is nothing better than user feedback to make a better product!” However if your in the business of developing mobile and cloud applications you customer may not understand MVP. Your customer needs to understand MVP.  It’s your job to not only educate them but also to guide them to MVP.

To ensure everyone is on the same page MVP is the absolute bare minimum application that you can develop that will have an immediate impact for your customer while breeding foundational success for future versions of the application.

Working with hundreds of customers over the years defining and adhering to MVP has been one of the biggest challenges I’ve encountered managing the development of mobile and cloud application solutions. The reason, the customer ultimately wants the big picture application – they want the app to be in the cloud, integrated with accounting and back-end databases, provide key business intelligence, empower field users, streamline the process for our customers, etc..  Separating the big picture app from MVP requires discipline on the part of the customer and the development team.

Yes, we need to understand the long term vision of the application. But your job is to work with your customer to identify, design and manage to MVP.  When I work with customers I always ask them to outline the big picture – highlighting the business problems and customer use cases they are trying to solve. Once I have that understanding I then work with them to define MVP.  Remember the customer is not buying software, use cases and agile methodology, they are buying the capability to do something or do it better. They may have thought through this but in my experience most have not. I always ask “What problem are you trying to solve? What are the set of core capabilities that have to be in the first version to solve this problem?”

This can be challenging. I like to illustrate it this way.

Zenware - Developing to MVP MVP_Cartoon

Ideally we all want the high speed, multi-user vehicle appealing to the broadest audience possible. However, starting with the skateboard version of the application provides capabilities that solve an immediate problem, fit an isolated market or address a problem within a company division.  While not the dreamed of solution MVP provides core capabilities that solve an immediate problem and create a positive impact. The benefit of introducing the MVP is that once the application is the hand of the users you begin an invaluable feedback process that helps more finely tune versions 2, 3 and 4 of your application.  Managing to MVP ensures a proper and natural evolution of the software. You will discover that each version of the application will have it’s own MVP criteria providing additional capabilities that will appeal to a broader group of users.

Continually reigning in customer and development team expectations to the core components of the MVP is key to your application deployment success. MVP has to be the focus of every discussion, every strategy session, every architecture design meeting and after every application testing scenario. If you don’t customer expectations tend to bleed into future versions and the project is delayed and customers get frustrated.

I’ve learned that documentation is critical to delivering MVP.  Document the big picture application as well as the MVP. Think of it as your blueprint that focuses on the immediate build requirements, that can stand alone, but shows future build requirements that you need to consider. Your application blueprint will protect the short term goal of MVP while planning for the bigger solution.

This became very evident in a recent project our team completed for one of our automotive customers. Our customer had a vision for MVP but had difficulty mentally separating MVP from the enterprise solution that was the ultimate goal.  Every time we met they would say “this is great but what about these features?” Totally disregarding what had been accomplished and moving towards the bigger picture. Fortunately we had not only documented MVP and the bigger picture application, we had prioritized the feature list of each.  Because of our documentation we were able to demonstrate that we were on track and their requests were bleeding outside of the approved MVP capabilities they had helped defined and prioritize. Defining and documenting the customer MVP not only kept the project on track it also kept expectations in check.

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Zenware - Mobile, Cloud, Web, SaaS and Software SolutionsJody Sedrick, CEO
Follow me on Twitter: @jodysedrick and @zenwareinc
LinkedIn Profile: Jodysedrick
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Zenware Inc. is a Boise Idaho based company that specializes In custom mobile software development, custom iOS development, custom Android development, iPad software development, iPhone software development, custom web development, web hosting and SaaS based work order management software. We also have a powerful line up of off-the-shelf mobile cloud solutions; ZenTouch now RoadFS, and ZWarehouse

 

 

 

 

 

 

Overcoming a Resistant Work Force to Mobile Technology

Fat Finger Mobile Devices - Field ServiceDo you find that some members of your mobile work force are resistant to adopting and using regularly the new mobile work management system you’ve put in place?  You’ve heard the excuses:

  • I’m not a technology guy.
  • I’m all thumbs when it comes to mobile devices.
  • If I was younger maybe I’d get it.
  • I just want to get to work.
  • It slows me down.
  • I don’t have time to learn a new way.
Yet in the follow-up breath you hear:
  • If I could just avoid going into the office.
  • It would be nice if I had all the parts before I left the office.
  • I wish you would plan my route better. I spend all day driving all over town.
  • Don’t they look at my schedule? I’m always over booked.

In rolling out hundreds of mobile field service implementations I’ve learned there are a number of critical tasks to ensure adoption across all departments.

  • Training, Training and Training:  Train every member of your team. Retrain them when necessary.  If you really want to learn where your field service techs are struggling shadow them for a day. You’ll be amazed at what you discover riding along with your crew.  Make video libraries of each step in the mobile process. This will save you time while providing tools team members can revisit as needed.
  • Choose a team lead or leads: Find that individual or individuals who are excited about the new mobile solution. Start with them. Get them onboard as quickly as possible. When your team lead sees the improvements they’ll naturally become your internal evangelists, leaders and supplemental support.
  • Rollout in phases: I’m a big proponent of rolling out any mobile solution in phases.  Start at the most critical point in your process.  I find this is most often centered around integration with existing accounting systems.  Take the time to get this right.  This is not only critical from an internal perspective but also from a customer perspective.  You want to ensure that any new system improves the customer experience. The last thing you want are invoicing errors sent to the customers.  Then move out to your pilot individual(s) or group who will use the mobile app.  Once you have the entire business chain polished, rollout out to the rest of your team.
  • Choose the right device:  This is critically important.  Consider carefully the needs of your team.  Do you need smartphones that support simple point and click apps, or do you need mobile devices with integrated scanners, GPS, etc.? Are you guys in rugged, wet, dusty or cold environments? Do they need credit card swiping?  What are the optimal screen sizes – SmartPhone, Fablet (super sized phones) or Tablets? Which do team members prefer? You may find you need multiple devices depending on individual roles and business needs.
  • Make sure your mobile solution goes the distance: Too many solutions tout mobile and, yes, they do a good job at providing a mobile app. But if you are just replacing your paper work order with a mobile app version of your work order, what’s the point?  Make sure your solution provides the tools and information needed for each business sector to complete their job.  Look for solutions that eliminate or diminish as many throttle points as possible.

Successful adoption will in large part be determined by how you manage your rollout.  Remember in some cases you are teaching old dogs new tricks. Remind your team that while there will be adjustments, the solutions we are implementing are designed to improve the business process for the entire company. Take the lead early and manage your mobile adoption to success.

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Zenware - Mobile, Cloud, Web, SaaS and Software SolutionsJody Sedrick, CEO
Follow me on Twitter: @jodysedrick and @zenwareinc
LinkedIn Profile: Jodysedrick
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Zenware Inc. is a Boise Idaho based company that specializes In custom mobile software development, custom iOS development, custom Android development, iPad software development, iPhone software development, custom web development, web hosting and SaaS based work order management software. We also have a powerful line up of off-the-shelf mobile cloud solutions; ZenTouch now RoadFS, and ZWarehouse

 

Mobile Thoughts From a Basement Disaster

Water Damage - Field Service ReponseFor the 2nd time in 6 months I’ve called the professionals at Disaster Kleenup. Let’s just say weekend plans change when basements start to fill with water. As I write the hum of drying fans and humidifiers drone like the constant white noise of a jet plane about to take off.

When the disaster recovery team came in they were ready for business. The whole time I’m watching them bring in hoses, fans and other equipment two things kept going through my mind. One, I hope insurance covers this. Two, why aren’t these guys using mobile devices?

Yep you know the familiar scene, the project lead pulled out the trusty old clipboard, collected my information, asked me to review and sign some microbial and hazardous content documents, then recorded each of the fans and humidifiers that were left behind to dry out my house.

I thought to myself this could be so much easier.

The same team of guys were at my house 3 months ago. How much easier would it have been for them to pull out there mobile device and do the following?

  • Open a work order
  • Search for my information by address or name.
  • See that they had done previous work.
  • Review that work if applicable
  • Add me to the work order
  • Pull up PDF or web based docs that need to be reviewed and signed.
  • Capture a date/time and signature that I’d reviewed and accepted the documents
  • Select the type of work from a selection menu
  • Field Service Equipment ScanScan or digitally record the equipment number and starting hours of each piece of equipment being left at my house.
  • Save all of this information and send directly to the office and insurance claim agent simultaneously
  • No paperwork, no searching for a pencil, just a mobile device and your fingers.

Equipment Tracking
The importance of proper equipment tracking came to bear when at 11:30 at night I went downstairs and turned off all the fans because the kids couldn’t sleep due to the noisy jet stream filling our home. Turning off the fans is when I noticed each fan was equipped with an hour counter. Tracking equipment hours of time on site versus actual time utilized I thought was an important business factor that a service company might want to capture. A service company might choose to charge differently for each of these usage types. Comparing time on site versus actual equipment usage also informs the service company, like in my case, if the customer had turned off the equipment. No I wasn’t tampering, I just needed to get the kids to sleep.

Field Service - Disaster Recovery - Basement FloodsAssigning equipment to a customer location provides another benefit. You know the last known location of that equipment. When’s the last time you drilled your service team looking for a piece of equipment? I know one construction company, Specialty Construction Supply who uses ZenTouch, assigns road signage to construction jobs. Not only can they charge per hour the signs are on site, they also know where to return for specific equipment if they need to move it to a new site. This has saved them thousands of dollars in lost equipment.

Past Service Work
When the project lead entered my house he instantly remembered he had done some mold remediation but couldn’t remember everything that had been done before. Needing this information he called into the office to have the dispatcher look up the specifics of the past visit. While it wasn’t specifically relevant to the current job he quickly noted previous work and gave some additional instructions to his team. How much easier it would have been to open a mobile service app, look up my information and review all service work that had been done previously?

Service Over Time
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project lead is scheduled for a return visit today to see how my basement is drying out. While my home repairs won’t be a large project, it easily could’ve been.

Having a mobile solution like ZenTouch with the ability to track an open job ticket seems critical to me. A service tech could track each visit, record new work, track hours of equipment usage, time on-site, travel times etc. This would enable a service company to dynamically manage jobs and invoice certain aspects of a job along the way if applicable.

These may seem like little things. But I’ve learned that the moment you start paying attention to the “little things” and implementing solution to nullify or eliminated their impact not only do you create competitive differentiation but improve your bottom line.

Zenware - Mobile, Cloud, Web, SaaS and Software Solutions~~~~~~~~~~
Jody Sedrick, CEO
Follow me on Twitter: @jodysedrick and @zenwareinc
LinkedIn Profile: Jodysedrick
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
Zenware, Inc. is a Boise Idaho based company that specializes In custom mobile software development, custom iOS development, custom Android development, iPad software development, iPhone software development, custom web development, web hosting and SaaS based work order management software. We also have a powerful line up of off-the-shelf mobile cloud solutions; ZenTouch, GlassBiller and ZWarehouse