Mobilising people and processes is still a challenge, both technically and culturally. While the technology behind smart devices has advanced at pace since their introduction in 2008, and with the proliferation of mobile working over the past 18 months, further development has been expedited so we now have more access to software and hardware designed for mobile workforces than ever before. So where should you start if you are considering shifting to mobile now?
A single mobile too?
There’s often an assumption that the ‘best’ mobile platforms are those that handle the broadest range of activities, but do housing providers really want or expect a single tool for all activities?
Take a look at your own smartphone or tablet – its home screen is probably full of apps. Now think about how you use those apps. Some of them are probably opened daily, others far less often. We happily accept multiple apps for multiple purposes because we know that certain apps are more efficient and user-friendly, and therefore perform better for specific purposes.
Too many variables
Now apply that same approach to mobile devices for personal use to those used for work. With diverse needs and requirements, operation across multiple device platforms, numerous operating systems and multiple form factors, the sheer volume of variables means that it’s incredibly difficult to develop a single system that can efficiently accommodate them all, so searching for the ‘unicorn’ of mobile platforms may be an impossible task.
There are certainly some great mobile platform providers in our sector who have specialist apps that can be used off the shelf or easily configured to include a particular specialist discipline. Those add-ons are usually built on knowledge gained through extensive experience and will allow users to mobilise certain home- or field-based activities, making a significant difference to both efficiency and cost-effectiveness.
For example, here at Propeller Powered, we focus on compliance software for the housing sector, covering all the main areas of statutory compliance as standard. When customers identify a need for an additional module, such as Ateb Group which has a number of defibrillators requiring regular checks, we can develop bespoke features that integrate seamlessly within existing systems.
With over ten years of providing cloud-based mobile solutions, Propeller powers compliance activities for businesses, both to create certification as well as to effectively mobilise as much of their business operations as possible. While there’s clearly a shift towards increased mobile working, we do still encounter housing providers who either have no mobile working or have adopted an approach to mobile working that doesn’t realise its full potential. No doubt, part of the reason for that may well be that organisations aren’t sure where to start, so here are some of our tips for what to look for:
- Start small – When looking for the best solution for your particular requirements, a mobile app project could be the solution – i.e. adding on a particular module to an existing platform. The key is not to over-complicate the brief. Focus on each working day and the most frequent activities where it would be genuinely useful to have the data readily-accessible (or easily input) on mobile. Then look at the app providers in the market who may be able to help and start a conversation.
- Simplified integration – There will always be the hurdle of integration with back-office legacy systems; again, the key is to keep it as simple as possible. There are a number of independent organisations who can advise on how to simplify your integration needs, often a worthwhile investment as it supports client’s internal resources while ensuring that the desired project outcome is achieved.
- Procurement needn’t be scary – Complicated and convoluted procurement isn’t a necessary evil. Good software developers will be happy to adapt their products to suit your requirements, plus you may well find that your requirements aren’t as unique as you think, and many mobile app solutions are cost-effective both to procure and to maintain via short term contracts.
Dave Carr is the managing director of Propeller Powered.