Mobile Workforce app – state of the art in 2016
GeoPal was founded in 2011 and for several years, GeoPal had two different mobile apps working alongside each other. The native Android App was our first app to be launched and it represented the result of several years of feedback provided by our customers. We regard this app as our constant work in progress, and we programmatically improve it on a regular basis.
It is great to see how the basis of this development is actually our customers and users of the app, who challenge us and request increasingly customised and customisable workflow methods and processes, which in turn lead to the creation of our scripting libraries.
However, these scripting libraries were built on customising individual job steps, so when the time came to develop a new application that could support both iOS and Android, we wanted it to reflect the highly dynamic needs of our customers. These needs will never ‘stabilise’, that is simply not the nature of the business our customers are in; the only constant factor is the unpredictability and the need to retain as much flexibility as possible.
New horizons in Mobile Workforce Management in 2017
Having witnessed how the growing need for customisation was here to stay, we realized that our focus in building the iOS app would have to be adaptability and agility. Customers who had just started using GeoPal were extremely keen on knowing exactly how customisable our app could be. In their minds, the possibility of customisation did not preclude the need for adaptation of their business processes, so they needed to know how far along technology could go, in order to decide how much change they would have to put their companies through.
Once we started listing our customers’ common needs, we started circling a strategy: the app would have to offer the possibility of white-labelling (something our Partners were also quite keen on). At the same time, bearing in mind the specific needs particular to each client, the app would have to make it possible to programmatically replace out-of-the-box features with customised ones, tailored around specific needs.
Options to consider in Mobile Workforce Software development
Having outlined the challenges laying ahead for our mobile workforce software team, we started figuring out possible avenues to tackle the issues.
The first option we considered was simply modifying the Android App, in order to make the Portal section of the App more robust. This would have meant creating the possibility of adding multiple Client Portal sections, each of which would carry a custom label and a custom icon.
The second option that presented itself was to focus more of our resources on native iOS and Android development; this solution would imply a drastic change in terms of the construction of the methodologies used. This approach carried two distinct risks: on the one hand, it would have been extremely expensive in the long run; on the other hand, it wasn’t necessarily a guarantee that the most pressing issue, customisation, would be solved in a satisfactory manner.
The definite solution for Mobile Workforce Management
After careful consideration of all options on the table, we decided to go for the development of a complete new App, which would be based on HTML5 technologies. You may ask what were the reasons for this:
- The new Mobile Workforce Management app would keep most of the existing functionality;
- New customers would be given the option to use the native Android App or switch to the new one, according to their needs;
- Existing customers could continue using the Android App or choose to migrate to the new one;
By using HTML5 technologies, we would be able to share the same code between iOS and Android. We could in practice target two different platforms while developing a single app and would ensure that both platforms could support exactly the same set of features.
Last, but not least, since we would be building a new solution from scratch, we had the chance to instil enough flexibility in it to provide as much customisation as we might want. And this was the inception of GeoPal’s Mobile Workforce Management App.
Conclusion and next steps
After nearly a year of intense and challenging development work, the GeoPal Mobile Workforce Management App has seen the light of day. We are currently rolling it out to selected customers and improving the app with their valuable feedback and suggestions.
Here’s all you need to know about it:
- It supports most out-of-the-box of the features of the native Android App
- It works on both Android and iOS
- It’s extremely customisable, to the point where it can be turned into a clean slate and rebuilt from scratch, cherry-picking only what’s needed
- It can be white-labelled in nearly every detail