Monday, March 12, 2007

More on Workflows & Business Processes for Mobile Handheld PDAs

I want to share some more thoughts on mobile software applications and automated business processes as they relate to mobile handheld PDAs. One of the key differences between a paper form and an electronic form on a handheld PDA is the ability to include automated business processes in the electronic form on the handheld. What do I mean by automated business process?

Definition of Automated Business Processes: a set of interrelated tasks linked to an activity that spans functional boundaries. Business processes have starting points and ending points, and they are repeatable.

IBM adds these valuable comments - "More importantly, the value of creating business processes for an enterprise is in the intellectual assets that those processes represent. The widgets that a business produces have value, of course; additionally, the knowledge of how to make those widgets has value too. That knowledge can be captured, added to, and improved in a business process. The scope of the widget-making process is important because doing all of the steps ensures quality widgets; doing more or less or different steps results in higher costs or lower quality or both."

One can improve the quality and consistency of the operation or business process by automating the way it should be completed. In a mobile software application for a handheld PDA, a company has the ability to ensure the appropriate business processes are done in the appropriate order. This is accomplished through a variety of means including:
  • Requiring specific information to be captured
  • Automating GPS location capture whenever a work order is completed
  • Requiring a digital signature from a customer to close out a work order
  • Requiring a digital photo of the work performed
  • Automatically capturing time and date stamps for work
  • Automatically checking inventory levels before dispatching a service technician to replace a part
  • Routing the field worker to a different set of questions, based upon answers (e.g. if equipment is broken automatically ask question #6, if equipment is repaired automatically proceed to question #3)
  • If work completed, close service order - if work incomplete answer question #2 about rescheduling work
  • etc

There are an infinite number of ways you can develop and automate business processes. These business processes, as IBM explained, can help you ensure that work is completed in a systematic and quality manner. You are in effect building "best practices" in your mobile software application.

MobileDataforce has spent the last 7 years researching and developing ways to include and manage automated business processes in mobile handheld applications. The PointSync Mobility Platform has been designed with automated business processes in mind.