Developing Applications for Mobile Data Collection
The success of your data collection system depends largely on the up-front work you do for the application development. Although it no longer has to take you weeks to develop a data collection app, you still need to have discussions about the specific requirements of your business.
RMS Omega’s specialists are available to help you review your operations so the application you create is exactly what you need:
What are your user requirements?
First, you need to think through the key components needed in your data collection system which might include:
- Data capture such as product name, location, cost, and expiration date
- Data storage in a central database
- User access to database to retrieve info
- Query/search function
- Table and report formats
- Interface and synchronization with other information systems
- Function across multiple sites
- Kind of work generated by data; e.g. track work-in-progress, create pick tickets, produce shipping labels
- Validation required
Also consider who the end users are, their immediate needs and their capabilities. No app design is successful if your employees are frustrated trying to use it.
What devices do you use?
If you are developing a new application for data collection, it might be a good time to review the devices on which it will be installed. You probably have desktop PCs at the workstations of supervisors and back office staff. However, with increasingly mobile workforces, you might have more and more mobile devices in use, perhaps a combination of company owned and employee owned, including:
- Handheld computers
- Barcode scanners/RFID readers
There’s also the question of storage. RMS Omega can discuss the pros and cons of using cloud storage or your own onsite servers. You may want to consider upgrading all of your hardware instead of dumbing down an app in order to accommodate old devices. Another significant factor in making decisions about devices is any plan you have for expanding the kind or volume of product or service.
What language do you want to use?
First, you have to consider the platform you are using. Windows, Android and IOS are all popular operating systems to support your application software. If you are developing a web-based app, you will run it within a browser.
You will want to keep the application as simple as possible. A language such as CakePHP is perfect. Designed for app development this language makes the job streamlined and faster, requiring less code. Database access, validation and authentication are all built into an original PHP framework. This means CakePHP keeps your application as secure as possible. Best of all, it is not complicated; just set up your database and you are in business.
When addressing legacy applications that utilize terminal emulation such as VT100 or TN3270, a screen mapping application provides the means to remap larger screens to simple and easily guided handheld instructions. RMS Omega developers utilize several rapid development (RAD) tools to deliver a low-cost, high quality integration to legacy software.
Looking to add voice to an existing application? Our software tools and our developers can quickly produce effective data collection applications using voice prompts.
The RMS Omega team is ready to help you develop the best data collection application possible to enhance your business processes. Contact us now to start the discussion.
Our specialists can work with you to make sure you develop the most useful application possible for your data collection needs. We partner with software providers who offer non-programmers the tool to create enterprise class data collection forms with fields and features to meet all your needs.
For example, universal programming languages can just lead you through three simple steps to develop a customized mobile app:
- Identify data to be captured and assign to fields
- Determine settings and design layout of the form(s)
- Deploy to mobile device