Tuesday, March 13, 2007

Handheld PDA Solutions for First Responders and Mobile Business Processes on the Server Side

I have written several times about the benefits of automating business processes on mobile handheld devices, so this time I am going to focus on automating business processes once the data is synchronized from the handheld device in the field to the server in the office.

Last week I visited Patron Systems in Boulder, Colorado. They are a software company focused on law enforcement and public safety. They have sophisticated business processes built into their mobile law enforcement applications that include real-time queries to multiple disparate databases to auto-fill eforms on laptops. Once the data is collected on the law enforcement form, it can be synchronized and routed to a police supervisor for review. It stays in a "work que" until the supervisor either approves or rejects it. If rejected it is returned to the original officer for editing and correction or if approved gets sent to the record management system for storage.

This is an example of how data collected in the field can activate an automated business process/workflow back at the office. The data is routed to a specific location, and a specific person/position to review, make a decision and then act upon. Once there is an item in the work que, the person is notified that there is an action required. This is an important concept - the person does not have to remember, or look things up, they are notified there is work to do. This is "automating" a business processes. If the eform is rejected as incomplete it will be sent back to the original author's "work que" and the officer will be notified. Again the significance of this step is that the workflow/business process will notify an officer in the field that there is additional work required.

The above example of an automated business process demonstrates the ability to start a process/workflow in the field, move the process to the office and then back to the field. This is a "mobile and automated" business process. The more you can define and automate "best practices" the higher quality and better your products and services will be.

Workflows can be automated by using mobile software platforms that are integrated with a central database server. Business rules, triggers and other methodologies and tools can be used to automate your processes on the database.