Friday, March 28, 2008

32 Questions to Ask Before Developing a Mobile Software Application


There are a lot of complexities involved with developing an enterprise class mobile software application for use on smartphones, handheld PDAs and industrial grade and rugged handhelds. At MobileDataforce, we have developed mobile software platforms and mobile application development tools to help eliminate, or at least reduce, many of these complexities. The following list will help you understand some of the issues to be prepared for the task:


1. Do you have the resources available to:
· Collect all business and technical requirements for the application?
· Design, develop, test, deploy and support a mobile software application?
2. Do you have the time and people available to:
· Review all the possible mobile handheld computers?
· Do these people have the knowledge to support the unique buttons and hardware drivers on the handheld computer?
3. Do you have experienced mobile application designers? Mobile applications cannot be designed in the same manner as a desktop application.
4. Do you have software engineers trained and available to develop a mobile application?
5. Are you going to develop for just one kind of handheld computer or many? (There are many different screen sizes, buttons, accessories, etc. If you want to support many different kinds of handhelds and their unique add-on components, you should expect to invest a couple of years in the development process.)
6. Are the available software developers experienced at developing enterprise class and mission critical mobile applications?
7. The most difficult part of mobile application development is synchronization issues. Do you have a data synchronization expert on staff?
8. Do you have helpdesk resources available to support the deployment of mobile applications?
9. Do you have a mobile device management system and support infrastructure in place?
10. Who will document the mobile application?
11. Who will train the mobile application users?
12. Do you have a sufficient budget to cover the immediate development effort and the next year’s support costs?
13. Is the business unit who is funding the project willing to cover the additional development costs if the project takes 50% longer than anticipated?
14. Is the IT development staff willing to dedicate personnel to this project for the entire project duration or will they be needed elsewhere?
15. Are your software developers mobile application security experts?
16. Do you have database integration experts available for this project?
17. What are the time-to-market requirements? Are you losing business or money by not having the mobile application done?
18. Who will support the mobile application after the original developers leave the company? Can you afford to cross-train a team of developers?
19. Mobile software solutions need custom business rules added. Is the framework and standardized methodology for implementing these business rules in place?
20. Which business unit will pay to update the mobile application next year when the available handheld devices require an OS upgrade and changes to the application? Is this in the business unit’s budget plans?
21. What database is integrated with the mobile software application? Is the DBA (database administrator) supportive of this integration? Will they cooperate with the project developers?
22. What synchronization technology will be used? Is that in the budget? Who will attend training classes to understand it? Are the training classes in the budget?
23. Do you know how to connect to the enterprise database remotely from the field?
24. Do you know how to develop mobile printing support using Bluetooth enabled mobile printers? Will you support just one kind of mobile printer or many different brands?
25. Do you know how to validate data and ensure data accuracy on the mobile application? Database Administrators demand this.
26. Do you know what ultra fast and ultra small relational database you will use on the handheld computer?
27. Do you need to develop your application to work on laptops, Tablet PCs and handheld computers? If so, how will you cater to these needs?
28. What connectivity options will you need to develop (i.e. Bluetooth, WiFi, GSM, cradle sync)? Do you have software developers that are proficient with all of these technologies?
29. Will you develop your own synchronization technology or buy from a vendor? Which vendor?
30. Do you know how to develop for and support hardware add-ons such as bar code scanners, RFID readers, GPS, digital cameras, and mobile printers? Do you know all the different hardware add-ons required in the field? Which brands and SDKs will you use?
31. How will you glue all these components together in your application so it all works and can be supported by the helpdesk? Who do you trust to create this enterprise application architecture?
32. How will you support different mobile devices, and different versions of mobile operating systems?

These issues must be considered in preparation for developing an enterprise class mobile application for use on mobile handheld PDAs, and also when preparing the project plan and budget. Enthusiastic software engineers with a passion for learning new mobile technologies will advocate the development of a mobile solution internally. These engineers do not always consider the necessary skills, experience, budget and time in development and support that are required.
For additional information please visit our website at http://www.mobiledataforce.com/, call us at (208) 384-1200, or email our sales team at sales2@mobiledataforce.com.

Thursday, March 27, 2008

Questions to Ponder when Considering a Mobile Software Strategy

  1. Should you purchase mobile software for handheld PDAs from every vendor that supplies enterprise software applications to your company? What if you have 16 enterprise applications? Are you willing to buy 16 different mobile software packages for handheld PDAs in order to mobilize these processes? If so, you will need a very big budget and IT department. If you chose to buy 16 different mobile applications, you would need to punch 16 different holes in your firewall, learn 16 different synchronization technologies, and use 16 different application development environments.
  2. Should I buy an "Off-the-Shelf" mobile application, or develop a customized mobile application to fit my specific business? The answer depends on if your business is set-up as an "off-the-shelf" business. Do you conduct your business in the exact same manner as many others in your market? Do you use the same business processes and the same accounting package as many others? Is your product or service company managed in the same manner as others in your market? Are there mobile applications already available that will do all this for you in a cost effective manner?

MobileDataforce has an entire department filled with mobility experts. We get asked these kinds of questions every day of the week. If you have questions on mobile software strategies, please contact us or visit our website.

Sybase iAnywhere, Mobile Handheld PDAs and Mobile Software Applications


The attached newsletter from Sybase iAnywhere and Gartner includes many different case studies of companies that have implemented enterprise mobile solutions for use on mobile handheld PDAs. One of the articles is on MobileDataforce's customer Janssen-Fritzen. They used MobileDataforce's PointSync Mobility Suite to customize a wireless work order system for use on mobile handhelds that run on Windows Mobile.

QuickBooks and Mobile Handheld PDA Software Applications


MobileDataforce provides mobile business applications for use on handheld PDAs that are integrated with QuickBooks. These applications are highly popular with field service technicians and contractors that use QuickBooks in their office and work orders in the field. Mobile applications include:
  • Mobile Service Tickets, Work Orders, Service Requests, etc.
  • Mobile job estimates
  • Mobile time tracking
  • More
MobileDataforce provides a wireless work order management system called FieldSync that integrates mobile handheld devices with QuickBooks. Work orders can be wireless dispatched to the field service technicians, once they are completed they can be directly synchronized with QuickBooks in the office. MobileDataforce offers both off-the-shelf mobile business applications and customized mobile business applications to fit their customer's specific requirements.
For more information please visit their website or contact by email.

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Best Places to Live and Launch - A Mobile Software Company


For those of you interested in articles about best places to live and start a business >


CNN's website covered the best places to live and launch this week. Boise, Idaho was listed at #19, we were #2 on Forbe's list last month. Fortune Magazine's Small Business Edition also published an article this week on MobileDataforce and Boise's quality of life.
MobileDatafore develops mobile software solutions for PDAs, iPhones, handhelds and Smartphones.

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Buy vs. Building Mobile Software Applications for Handheld PDAs



Several times a month companies call me to discuss the merits of buying a mobile software platform , to develop software for mobile handheld PDAs, with a development environment vs. attempting to build their own. My first answer is you can build it! MobileDataforce did. It tooks us 4.5 years and over 40 engineering-man-years to develop the PointSync Mobility Platform. It can certainly be done by others. The key questions are:
  1. How much time do you have to develop the mobile software application?
  2. How many software engineers do you have available to develop the mobile application?
  3. Do they have any experience designing, developing and deploying enterprise quality mobile applications?
  4. What is your development budget?
  5. It is hard to develop your very first mobile application...are you patient...is the business unit sponsoring the project patient?
  6. Are your software developers mobile application security experts?
  7. Do you have software developers that eat, sleep and breath synchronization?
  8. What are the time to market requirements. Are you losing business or money by not having the mobile application done?
  9. Who is going to support the mobile application after the original developers leave the company?
  10. Who is going to document the mobile application and know how it works?
  11. Who will pay to update the mobile application next year when the available handheld devices require an OS upgrade and changes to the application?

Again, any smart group of software engineers can, given enough time and budget, develop a working mobile application. The real questions - is this your core business and is this the best use of your time and budget? Especially since a relatively low cost mobile software platform and development environment already exists and can be purchased and downloaded in an afternoon.

The following link goes to another blog article with a list of "buy vs. build" articles.





Tuesday, March 18, 2008

MobileDataforce Achieves Microsoft Gold Certified Partner Status



Boise, Idaho - March 18, 2008 – MobileDataforce, a leading provider of mobile business applications for PDAs and handheld computers, announced today that it has earned Microsoft Gold Certified Partner status in the Microsoft Partner program, the highest level of partnership available. As a Gold Level partner MobileDataforce has demonstrated expertise in the use of and integration of enterprise mobile software applications with Microsoft technologies. As a partner of the highest level MobileDataforce will receive a great deal of benefits, which includes software, training, support, and access to many assets available only to Microsoft Gold Certified Partners.

“Achieving the Gold Certified Partner level represents a lot of enterprise mobile software implementations,” says MobileDataforce CEO Kevin Benedict. “Our mobile business applications integrate with a large number of different Microsoft platforms and business applications. Achieving the Gold level will give our customers additional confidence in our abilities to mobilize their existing business processes and field service automation needs.”

Gold Certification is the highest level of partnership available to Microsoft Partners who integrate with Microsoft products. Currently MobileDataforce integrates enterprise class mobile business applications with Microsoft Dynamics NAV, GP, AX, Microsoft SQL Server, Microsoft Windows and Windows Mobile. The PointSync Mobility Platform has been Microsoft tested and certified.

About PointSync Mobility Platform:

PointSync Mobility Platform is an enterprise class mobile software platform used to rapidly design, develop, and deploy critical business mobile applications. It is architected to provide database centric mobile applications with bi-directional synchronization, connectivity, security, and enterprise database integration all within one product suite.

About MobileDataforce:

MobileDataforce is a global leader in the development of enterprise class and business critical software solutions for use on mobile handheld computers including Smart Phones, Tablet PCs, PDAs, and laptops. MobileDataforce has offices in Europe, North America, and Australia to support their ever expanding customer base and sales channels. Privately held, MobileDataforce has been mobilizing business solutions since 2000. For more information, please visit their website at http://www.mobiledataforce.com/.

Visiting MobileDataforce and Talking Mobile Software, PDAs and Handhelds


There are significant benefits gained from visiting MobileDataforce in Boise, Idaho. A recent visit by a team researching our enterprise mobility software platform, PDAs, Handhelds and mobile application development expertise included a fly fishing excursion to the South Fork of the Boise river. Many fish were caught and fun had by all!!!
By the way did you see that Boise is #2 on Forbes Magazines new best places for business and careers!

Friday, March 14, 2008

Mobile Applications, Handhelds and PDAs and Hog Feeding

Last month I watched an episode of "Dirty Jobs" that was about a pig farmer outside of Las Vegas that fed his pigs the food scraps from area casinos. I admit this is one of my favorite shows on TV now days, and this was one of my favorite episodes. The pig farmer had a great sense of humor and Mike Rowe got completely covered in food scraps and slop. How does this relate to mobile software applications, handhelds and PDAs? We received a call yesterday from a company wanting to implement a mobile handheld PDA software application for the drivers of trucks hauling food scraps to hog farms. Imagine my excitement!!! They wanted to integrate GPS data capture into the handheld software applications so they could track the location and status of each truck. My mobile software developers were all over this...like a pig at a......

QuickBooks, PDAs, Smart Phones and Handheld Computers


MobileDataforce provides mobile work order software to a lot of small to medium sized services companies with field service technicians. Many of our customers are using QuickBooks for their accounting software. As a result, MobileDataforce has integrated a variety of different mobile applications for PDAs, handhelds and Smart Phones directly with QuickBooks.
Using MobileDataforce's integration with QuickBooks, field service technicians can download parts and services lists, dispatched work orders, customer lists, inventory and more to the handheld computer. When work orders are completed, the handheld computer can wirelessly update the information directly into QuickBooks. This makes for a very efficient administration process.

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Gartner & Sybase Discuss Mobile Software, PDAs and Handhelds


In this just released newsletter, Gartner and Sybase discuss enterprise mobile software applications, PDAs, Handhelds and mobile computing and a number of case studies on mobile applications from around the world. I particularly like this newsletter because it highlights MobileDataforce :-)

Monday, March 10, 2008

Mobile Data Collection on Handheld PDAs in Africa

MobileDataforce has just completed a mobile software application for use in AIDs research throughout Africa. This mobile software application for use on handheld PDAs and smartphones will be used to gather research data in AIDs clinics (and then it will be wirelessly synchronized with research databases throughout the world). The data will be studied and analyzed to help develop strategies to fight the spread of AIDs.

MobileDataforce is involved in many very interesting and large mobile software development projects around the world, but there are times when a project has a greater purpose than just good business.

EPA Underground Inspection Forms for use on Mobile Handheld PDAs

MobileDataforce has just finished developing a mobilized version of the EPA's (environmental protection agency) underground tank inspection form for use on tablet pcs. This same mobiel software application could also be used on a mobile handheld PDA. This mobile software application was developed for a region in the state of Washington.

This mobile inspection application has over 400 data fields and allows the underground tank inspector to draw diagrams in the application and to wireless synchronize the inspection data and drawing back to a database in the office.

This mobile software application was developed for a Tablet PC, which was the customer's preference because of the large numbers of data fields and desire to draw diagrams depicting problem areas identified during inspections.

MobileDataforce mobilizes paper forms daily. We help our customers convert their paper processes to mobile software applications that can synchronize to office database application or accounting systems remotely from the field. We support rugged mobile handheld computers, Tablet PCs and laptops.

MobileDataforce can quickly convert paper forms to mobile software applications by using the mobile development environment called the PointSync Mobility Platform.

Mobile Handheld PDA - Socket Mobile Announces Antibacterial Handheld Computer

OK, I must admit that I had not considered the fact that I was buying a mobile handheld PDA infected with bacteria. I guess ignorance is bliss. However, now that I know I can buy a handheld computer that is an "Antibacterial Handheld Computer" I will no longer have bliss.

In the past I just wanted a nice, fast and dependable handheld computer with a good screen and lots of memory. However, going forward I will add to my list of wants a handheld computer that includes - antibacterial additives that gradually releases microbe-fighting metal ions upon becoming moist or wet.

Socket Communications, Inc., dba Socket Mobile, Inc., an innovative provider of mobile productivity solutions, recently announced a new line of products to be built with an antibacterial plastic targeted toward healthcare and other markets that involve hygiene-sensitive environments. The first product combination to debut in the new line is the SoMo 650 handheld computer and docking cradle, which will be on display at the Healthcare Information and Management Systems Society (HIMSS) annual conference and exhibition in the Socket Mobile booth #1312. SoMo 650 handheld computer product demonstrations will also be taking place in the Cisco booth #6251 in conjunction with its recently attained Cisco Compatible Extensions (CCX) 4.0 certification.

"Calls for patient safety to drive health IT investments is among the top 10 issues facing the healthcare industry today," said Bob Zink, vice president of worldwide sales and marketing at Socket Mobile. "As more mobile devices make their way into sterile environments, it is important to take into consideration the effect that will have on patient safety. Our focus on and dedication to the healthcare industry has driven us to build an antibacterial product line to assist in the industry's efforts to make patient safety first and foremost in order of priority."

The new antibacterial product line incorporates the use of an antibacterial additive that gradually releases microbe-fighting metal ions upon becoming moist or wet. In conjunction with the traditional cleaning and sterilization procedures used on similar data collection equipment in the healthcare and hospitality industries, devices built with antibacterial plastic provide an additional layer of protection against the multiplication and spread of potentially harmful bacteria and microbes, giving organizations the opportunity to enhance the safety of medical staff, patients, workers and visitors. In addition, the antibacterial plastic reduces, or in many cases eliminates, the need for and dependence on protective skins or shells that can become expensive over time as a consumable-type accessory.

Thursday, March 06, 2008

Mobile Sales, Orders and CRM on Handheld PDAs



My team has a lot of experience helping our customers develop world class mobile sales and mobile delivery software applications for use on handheld PDAs that use Windows Mobile. These projects include:
  • Mobile sales orders - take orders in mobile locations
  • Tracking the delivery of products to retail grocery stores
  • Collecting in-store marketing information
  • Collecting product price information
  • Proof-of-delivery
  • Water bottle delivery solutions to homes/businesses
  • Post-delivery inspection applications (check product for shipping damage and get customer signature)
  • Mobile retail planagrams (detail the shelf location of products and the re-stocking amounts)

If you would like to brainstorm about how to develop custom mobile software or mobilize your sales, delivery or CRM solutions please contact us at MobileDataforce.

Tuesday, March 04, 2008

Mobile Handheld PDAs in the Healthcare Field


MobileDataforce is working on a significant number of interesting mobile software projects for handheld PDAs in the healthcare services, pharmaceutical and medical logistics markets. The following links point to blog articles that describe some of these mobile software applications:


MobileDataforce Team Photos 2008

MobileDataforce has more than doubled in size in the past year. We are fortunate to have been invited to participate in some very large and interesting mobile software development projects in many different areas in the world.

We want to thank our many mobile software customers for your faith and confidence in our enterprise mobility solutions for handheld PDAs, smartphones and industrial handheld barcode scanners. You have challenged us with the complexity of your IT environments and we have learned much as we have helped you achieve your ROIs!

Monday, March 03, 2008

Inc. Magazine on MobileDataforce's PDA, Handheld and Mobile Software Blog

Inc. magazine's online technology website published an article this week on the subject of - this blog (the one you are now reading).

http://technology.inc.com/internet/articles/200803/blog.html?partner=rss-alert

This very blog is used as an example of a company's CEO communicating with customers, partners and other parties interested in mobile software solutions.

Thanks for reading!

Sunday, March 02, 2008

Make More Sales by Using Mobile Handheld PDAs and Smartphones

I often talk to potential customers about the cost savings that can be achieved by mobilizing business processes and deploying them to mobile handheld PDAs or smartphones, however, for many of our customers increasing sales is also a key motivator. Let's talk about how mobile software applications on PDAs can help increase sales:
  • Mobile applications can prompt service technicians to renew service contracts
  • Mobile applications can prompt service technicians to offer additional and complimentary services. For example: Plumbers can offer to conduct a water conservation inspection in the house while they are there repairing the toilet. The inspection can identify various ways the customer could conserve water by replacing shower heads, toilet tanks, etc.
  • Mobile applications can prompt service technician to offer products related to the needs of the customer. Plumbers could talk to customers about water filtration systems, and other products.
  • Mobile applications can prompt service technicians to sell extended product warranties
  • Mobile applications can prompt service technicians to identify various service and product needs that were noted while on site with the customer. This information can be shared with the sales team for follow-up.

These are just a few examples of how mobile software applications on handheld PDAs and smartphones can intelligently remind and prompt field service technicians to help increase the sales of products and services.

MobileDataforce provides a wide range of both mobile software applications and custom mobile software development services.