For the past year I have consulted with a company that has sought to develop their own mobile solution. Early in the consulting process I recommended a cloud based mobile solution that aligned with their business model and processes. My recommendation to go with a pre-packaged solution that met 90% of their needs was primarily based on the fact that they hadn’t put together a dedicated team to work on the project. Their attitude was, “A MEAP will make up for any difficiencies our developer might have in time or expertise”, or “I can work on this project while traveling”.

They have come to realize that while a MEAP solution provides great power to accomplish their mobility goals there are still a lot of challenges and complexities involved with developing an enterprise mobility solution that require time, evaluation, dedication and development.

A very simple example of this happened this week. The same company that decided to build their own mobile application approached us to solve some challenges they had encountered developing their own mobile app. As our team looked at the mobile solution a few simple, yet crucial, points were missed in their application design. Here are two examples:

  1. Work order tables were joined on a customer name without having a unique customer ID. The result – if they changed a customer name from “Freds” to “Fred’s” all ties to previous work orders would have been lost.
  2. Work order numbers were not unique and could be shared between multiple customers. The result – Customer A could end up with Customer B’s information. Not such a good idea.

There were other complications within their app but you can see how a few simple things can negatively impact the results of your mobile solution.  It is important to recognize there are difficulties and challenges in customer developing a mobile solution whether using a MEAP or traditional coding.

The following is a list of questions and considerations you should weigh before embarking in developing your own mobile solution:

  1. Do you have dedicated resources available to gather all the business and technical requirements of your application?
  2. Do you understand the business process in the field? What does the field technician need to be successful? What does the corporate side need to be successful? The key is building a mobile solution that provides the right data at the point of action.
  3. Do you have and can you dedicate the right technical resources to design, develop, test, deploy and support your application?
  4. Do you have experienced mobile application designers that can build intelligent business logic within the application and not simply design a great interface?
  5. What mobile device options are available? What device features are required by the end user – barcode scanning, GPS, RFID or are consumer grade devices sufficient?
  6. With what backend systems do you to have to integrate?

Mobility has become an integral part of business. It’s no longer a “would be nice” part of your business, it is mission critical. Whether using a MEAP or traditional development methodologies the key is developing a mobile solution that can evolve as your business and mobile technology evolves.

Jody Sedrick
Follow me on Twitter: @jodysedrick and @zenewareinc
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Zenware 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.