Thursday, April 19, 2007

Thoughts on the Business of Mobile Handheld PDA Software Development

Software and IT Consultants that wish to offer general mobile software development services and mobile handheld PDA solutions to a broad market have the following important business management questions to consider:

  • how do you achieve economies of scale (get better and faster over time to increase profitability)
  • how do you manage risks (from many new and custom development projects)
  • how do you develop in-house expertise in a broad windows mobile market with a large number of different mobile business processes
  • how do you develop all the appropriate technology skills necessary to deliver a wide variety of applications using different synchronization, security, integration, database, business process and connectivity options in your mobile software
  • how do you develop a complete quality assurance plan for every new custom mobile software application (make sure you include this time in your proposal)
  • how do you efficiently test and de-bug a large number of custom mobile applications
  • how do you document how each customized software application works (make sure you include this time in your proposal)
  • how do you maintain and support a wide variety of custom mobile software applications
  • how do you keep your customer’s mobile software applications current with new versions of mobile operating systems and new handheld device technologies
  • how do you integrate your custom mobile software applications with a large variety of different backend databases and database applications
  • how do you do this all profitably

I have had many software and IT consultants contact me and say they have tried to develop a business targeting mobile software applications using Microsoft’s .NET development environment or other coding environments like Appforge, but it simply takes too long, and the cost is too high for the majority of their small to medium sized customers. They contacted me to ask if MobileDataforce has a solution that can address their business needs. The short answer is yes.

In order to profitably develop customized mobile software solutions for use on smartphones and handheld PDAs a large variety of business processes and/or industries, one must standardize as many of the design, development, deployment and support processes as possible. This goal is most easily accomplished by using a mobile software platform that provides these features in a configurable environment.

A mobile software platform enables your professional services organization to train on a standardized platform and to use a standardized methodology for rapidly developing and delivering custom solutions. With a common platform in use, the following benefits can be recognized:

  • Many of the requirements that mobile projects have are already pre-built in the mobile software platform
  • project estimates become increasingly accurate
  • software developers can easily support each other's projects and mobile applications
  • synchronization does not have to be developed, rather it is configured
  • mobile application screens don't have to be developed, rather they are configured
  • connectivity options don't have to be developed, rather they are configured
  • handheld device support is configured, rather than developed
  • mobile databases don't have to be developed, rather they are already included and only need configured
  • common templates and functions can be re-used on many different applications
  • technical support staff can easily de-bug and support new custom applications using visual de-buggers and management tools
  • design standards and functions make screen creation quick and efficient
  • application "clips" are reusable configurations and features that can be re-used on many different projects
  • the function library has over 220 pre-built functions that save design and development time
  • existing application templates can used and customized for multiple customer projects
  • new versions of mobile solutions can be published to the mobile user from the server
  • one set of code can work on Windows XP, Windows CE, Windows Mobile, Tablet PC and multiple screen sizes

The bottom-line - a large variety of mobile applications can be rapidly designed, developed, deployed and supported profitably if they are produced using a mobile software platform like the PointSync Mobility Platform. To program or code a large variety of different and customized mobile applications using .NET or Appforge is simply too expensive and takes too much development time for the average small to medium sized business. Speed and efficiency is required to serve this market. Mobile applications should be configured for these clients, rather than programmed.

Here are a few articles that address these issues in more detail: