Often, in the IT business, progress is driven by need. That is the case with mobile app development. The need began in our own business. We needed a better way to manage timesheets for our consultants, so that we could ensure our billing was accurate without taking so much administrative time.
Anyone who has ever managed timesheets will know how challenging it can be without a system and, with so many experts at our disposal, a mobile app was designed to fit. Our engineers can submit timesheets on-the-go, without cumbersome admin or trying to make sense of bad handwriting! Billing is automated, which means our people can spend their time helping clients instead of fighting their way out of a mountain of paper.
A client talked to us about a similar challenge in his own business, and one of our app developers – with 45 years’ IT experience – was quick to see where a similar design could solve the problem. A solution was designed, and mobile app development became an important part of what we do.
Among the areas ripe for mobile apps are warehousing and logistics. We are finding that many organisations can make enormous efficiencies for a relatively low cost. When you think about processes in a large warehouse, there is a lot of legwork involved. Finding the right item, perhaps walking back to a computer, checking it, returning it to find something else.
A mobile warehouse app might typically scan items by their barcodes when they are picked, packed, counted, put away, giving instant feedback and without any cable needed. The barcode may be automatically checked against the packing slip.
The app helps get goods out faster, with fewer mistakes. It can be designed to automatically feed into existing ERP systems, so that you have a much clearer real-time picture of stock. Stocktaking is made quicker and less painful, and variance can be set to acceptable levels, with colour-coded results so you quickly see any problems and minimise recounts.
That is just one example, of course. Look at any part of a business where some function is away from a desk, and there is a chance it can be made more efficient, and easier for the employee. Sales reps can track their calls, visits and products – even track how many products are on the shelf. They can submit photographs of displays to help not only with stock levels, but to track competitive products and support marketing efforts.
The intent isn’t to create the next Candy Crush. Many of our most successful apps have been very simple in design and execution. The real business benefit was in ‘mobilising’ the business data and empowering employees to interact with that data on the go.
While we talk about mobile apps, the solution doesn’t strictly have to be written as an app for iOS, Android and Windows Phone – and in fact, covering the usual array of devices is not without its complexity. Instead, for customer-facing situations, a preferred option in many situations can be to write a mobile website, and create a shortcut for the link. This gives a consistent interface, and doesn’t require anyone to visit the app store or load anything on their device.
The mobile website can still guide customers through purchases or support, capture photographs and signatures – and is less invasive. This option is exceptionally strong for situations like capturing incidents for insurance companies, or leasing equipment where you need to capture its condition before and after rental.
Much of the strength of the apps we work on comes from getting to know our customers’ businesses well – and from a team of engineers experienced in many industries. Sometimes, those irritations in the workplace can be easily solved – and save a lot of staff hours or customer frustration at the same time.
As with any problem, a fresh pair of eyes can work wonders. To chat about your niggling business challenges and how you can use mobile apps to increase efficiency, contact our experienced mobile app development team.