Category Archive: Enterprise Mobility

WAZE – The Power of Real-Time Data

WAZE-MapMy business partner, Dave Wasden, turn me on to a great new app this week – WAZE. Basically it’s a community-based traffic and navigation. Think CROWD TRAFFIC Control – everyone using the WAZE app contributes to the very latest traffic updates while they are driving down the road to outsmart traffic.  The app since on top of Google Maps and provides a unique, fresh, friendly app experience that makes it fun to use.

As you drive to your location WAZE alerts you to upcoming accidents, traffic jams, hazards and police (hidden and visible).  All of this data is being fed by drivers (supposed to be their passengers) as they drive down the road. I was amazed at the continuous flow of information fed to me real-time.  Not only can I see the current traffic load on my current route. I can also view traffic on adjacent roads that can be utilized to circumvent a congested area.

One of the interesting by-products of using WAZE is that I find myself significantly more alert to conditions on the road. I’m not only looking for the hazards, traffic jams or police continuosly presented to me in the app. I’m also looking for things that I can warn other drivers about to contribute to the WAZE experience.

WAZE-AdsThis morning I received a new alert. Based on my location I was fed two advertisements; one for a Biscuit Taco only 3 minutes away at Taco Bell, the second for Cricket only a minute away.  Based on my location I was fed information that potentially was relevant to my current location and the time of day – breakfast. I didn’t stop for a Biscuit Taco but did swing in for a McDonald’s sausage biscuit.

This got me thinking about field service applications. For  the past couple years we’ve discussed location aware apps but are now seeing smart utilization of the capabilities not only in the consumer marketing arena but field service as well.  For example when a service tech arrives on site we could feed the service call summary, parts required, contact information, a message to call the office, expected time on site, service history and more. Armed with this information the service tech can walk-in with everything needed to serve the customer as well as be mentally prepared for how they can serve the customer before walking in the door.

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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

 

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
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

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.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
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