15 Jun

Considering a custom app for your manufacturing environment? Here’s what it takes to get started.

If you read our recent post, 7 Reasons to Adopt Mobile Computing (& 3 Reasons Not To) you know all the benefits that come with integrating mobile computing into your manufacturing or warehouse environment.

Replacing manual data entry with automated data collection saves time and reduces errors for field and in-house teams alike.  But the portable hardware – the iPhones, Android devices, and tablets – that collect the data are only half the equation when it comes integrating, disseminating, and acting on the information.

Sometimes out-of-the-box and software will give you exactly what you need. Other times it will not.

That’s where custom apps come in.

Custom apps can be designed to accomplish any number of things that will allow your organization to work YOUR way, without having to bend your processes to align with preset standards. Sure, the out-of-the-box solutions have some advantages, but depending on your situation, the cons may outweigh the pros.

Read: Pre-Packaged or Custom Data Collection Solutions: How to Know which is Right for You

Getting the app you need starts with a plan… and the right partner.

Because the amount of time, effort, and cost required to create custom applications depend on your goals and your starting point, there is no one set path to completion, but there are some clear steps to project launch. The better you can communicate your goals and objectives to your app development partner, the more smoothly the process will go.

Use the following “worksheet” as a guide so you know what to have ready for the initial discovery session.

The plan

1. Determine Goals, Starting Point, and Objectives:

When you embark on a development project with The SMS Group, the first thing we’ll do is to sit down with you to define your broad goals so we fully understand the purpose behind the project.

What do you hope to achieve with this app? (describe in detail)


We’ll also ask questions to clarify the starting point.  Do you have an old system that you want to upgrade? If so, what is the reason behind the upgrade? Are we starting with Excel sheets or other “paper” documents?

What does your current situation look like? (describe in detail)


During this discussion, we’ll also dive into your specific objectives – think of these as your second-tier goals that when collectively accomplished will achieve your broad objective.

How do you want to gather the data? (describe in detail)
Where do you need the data to go? (describe in detail)
How do you want to use the data? (describe in detail)


2. Define Technical Requirements

And, of course, no custom development launch would be complete without diving into some technical details.

What operating system do you need? (describe in detail)
What are your interface requirements? (describe in detail)


3. Determine Hardware Needs

Remember those mobile devices we talked about earlier in the post? It is important that we know what hardware you intend to use so that we can design accordingly. If you need suggestions on new hardware, we are happy to accommodate.

Will your existing hardware support the new software? (describe in detail)
Do you need/ want additional device recommendations? (describe in detail)


4. Identify Ongoing Support Needs

Once we have the project parameters outlined, we’ll address how to handle ongoing support for the application.   After every installation, we offer a 60-day window for support at no additional cost. Once that 60-day period is up, organizations that have the technical expertise on staff often choose to take on the support role themselves. In other cases, organizations prefer to leave the troubleshooting and updates to us.   If this is the case, we’ll work up a quote for an ongoing support contract.

Do you need an ongoing support contract? (describe in detail)


The partner

As with any outsourced project, it is important that both you and your provider, are fully aligned with the project objective and the steps it will take to achieve it.  If, after we have collected all of the information above, we feel that we still have gaps in the information we need to scope your project correctly, we will pull in the lead developer assigned to the project and hash out all the details so that we can pull together the most accurate estimate possible.

Ready to get started?

The SMS Group can not only help you develop your custom applications, we’ll also work with you to determine the perfect mobile technology strategy for your organization, guiding you through the process of purchase and installation. Contact us to learn more about successes

Start your mobile app development project now.

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