Portable Data Collection & Application Development
The trend in developing mobile applications is rapid application development (RAD) using one of the many automation tools available. The name says it all. Speed is the essence of this process but without forfeiting functionality.
Rapid application development is particularly suitable for processes where the requirements of the user interface drive the design. If your business is a warehouse operation or distribution center, off site repair, field inspections or any other mobile business, you will want to discuss a mobile application for tracking, moving and managing data. Our specialists can show you how easily you can move from a paper and pen system to mobile technology.
The success of rapid application development depends on its strongest features:
- Collaborative process. Personnel at all levels of your business can be involved in the design of the app through questionnaires, workshops and focus groups. It is important that at least end user representatives of the team participate, from product developers, marketers, warehouse workers and their supervisors, financial managers and other end users who really know the requirements of the user interface. Together they map out the process.
- User friendly tools. There is no need for a programmer as rapid application development tools rely on pre-built starter apps with a graphical user interface (GUI) so the people developing them can easily drag and drop the necessary components.
- Iterative development. Instead of all the planning happening at the front end with rigid parameters for development, testing and adjustments are made from the first early prototype. The flexibility of such ongoing responsiveness supports fast, organic software development.
The process for mobile app development using a rapid application development approach is straightforward but can be easily adjusted, done over or sped up, however you need it. The basic steps are:
- Define screens based on device capabilities
- Identify the information that has to flow through the database between the front line end user, accounting, shipping, purchasing, supervisors and anyone else in the business operation
- Customize the data collection by selecting numeric and text fields according to the requirements of the process
- Map fields to screen, building different forms for different purposes
- Deploy to a Window Mobile/CE device or barcode terminal to upload and download data
A rapid application development tool provides an interactive template to develop exactly the kind of application you need to run your business. Because they have been involved in the app development, the end users both on the front line and in the back office are more attuned to, and realistic about the IT functions.