Mobile Backend as a Service (MBaaS) Blog

High Expectations, Impossible Deadlines: Building a Mobile Prototype…In One Month

NS-screensThis article was originally posted on the Venado Technologies blog.

The Challenge

A customer came to us in the middle of November and told us about an opportunity to show one of their business units how current mobile technologies could be used to solve a business problem quickly and efficiently. “No problem”, we said. “How fast do they need it?”, we asked. “Before the end of the year”, was the response!

As we went through the usual excuses of; “what about Thanksgiving and Christmas”, “our developers are busy on other projects”, “we don’t have a design document”, “we don’t have a database”, services, etc., etc., etc. The customer said they need it by the end of the year and wanted to know if we were up for the challenge, or not. Of course we are up for the challenge! Sign the agreement and let’s get started.

The Objectives

Visibility was the key. The business unit had contractors and employees who were getting work done the old fashion way, with paper and e-mail. However, the dispatchers had no visibility into the activities of the techs once the work orders were sent out. In some cases they were finding out about problems that were preventing the tech from accomplishing the work long after the due date. The nature of this client’s business was such that if their technician’s job isn’t done on time, it could cause catastrophic results.

In order to achieve the goal of better visibility, the customer needed to have a mobile application that could deliver work orders, in priority sequence, to the field workforce and collect the necessary data, in real time, about the work activities in the field. Visibility is a two-way street; the users needed improved insights into the work so they could be more effective. Therefore, the application would need to provide them the ability to view locations on a large map, view site details on a detailed map view, and report back to the office any details or problems about the job. Further, all of this would have to be done while tracking the status of the work order, viewable by a manager in an office in real time, on a web based dashboard.

work-order-template

The Team

We immediately brought our team together including:

One experienced mobile application developer focused on building screens
One experienced mobile application developer focused on functionality and application processes
One UI/UX designer
One database/services expert to work with our mBaaS partner and handle database set up
One web developer to build the web dashboard and widgets

The Tools

The Backend

We selected Kinvey as our mBaaS platform, allowing us to utilize their data store for the database and pre-existing services for user administration, location services and more. Kinvey also provided us with a solution engineer to help with the project and stood up an instance of the platform within 24 hours. A testament to Kinvey’s ease of use is that we had a successful implementation with limited preparation time, insufficient resource availability and a team lacking experience with the product,. Kinvey also allowed us to build the mobile application, first connected to Kinvey, with the ability to easily connect to production data sources and services in the future if the application were to be migrated to a production environment.

NSdashboard

The Front-end

Xamarin.Forms was used on the mobile side to build the app, which the client requested on iOS. Using Xamarin.Forms allows us to quickly build the app while mitigating any risk of mobile platform changes throughout the app’s lifecycle. If the client ever needed the application to work on Android or Windows Phone, we can protect their investment with up to 99% of the code being shared among all three platforms.

NS-screens

The Solution

The solution was built in thirty-one calendar days, through December! This included a fully functional, native iOS mobile app, a web-based management dashboard for dispatchers, and a high performance backend to pull it all together in real time.

Wrap up

The expectations for mobile are greater than any enterprise technology in our time. Business leaders, customers and end users alike have an insatiable appetite for business productivity improvement through mobile. To accomplish the goals of today, we can’t use the methods of the past. We must take advantage of every tool in our bag with the latest methods and strategies.

Venado employs our Enterprise Mobile Stack which is a collection of tools, combined with our methodology, aimed at giving large enterprises better results for their investments in mobile. Creating this “app factory”, capable of producing enterprise-grade applications in less time, provides the agility and supportability modern IT teams need to keep up with their business customers.

Leveraging this approach to mobile app development is what allows us to achieve extraordinary results for our clients. It’s not about just building an app…it’s about having a strategy to build apps at scale. Venado Technologies and our global team of mobile experts can help you achieve outstanding results in your organization as well.

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