At many of my presentation people often ask me which type of app is better: a Point Solution or a Integrated Solution? The answer to this question for any given company will be determined by what the end goal is for the workflow. For example, if a site Superintendent is taking project photos with a mobile device are the photos meant to be used for marking up plans or documenting a request for information? To explore this topic I will first explain my take on the two aspects.
A “Point Solution” app has a singular function that accomplishes one task. For example: there are apps that take photos, that create safety reports, or view plans.
A “Integrated Solution” app has multiple functions that communicate with other systems. For example: most financial software systems coordinate employee time, billings, and rental items.
When you are starting a Mobile Device Program or revising a current one, you must look at and evaluate these two app styles. You must think through these questions…
1. What you are trying to accomplish with the app?
2. How will the app communicate with other apps?
2. Where does the data from the app need to be stored?
Here is one example to think about from the “Point Solution” side of the table. Let’s say that part of you Mobile Device Program strategy is to find a app that will replace your old paper based safety inspection system. This app will allow you to create and distribute forms to your team.
Steps 1: A field staff employee uses the app to complete and inspection and create a report.
Step 2: After converting the form into a PDF file it must be emailed to the office for review.
Step 3: Next a staff member at your office must receive, open and review these reports. The reports must be moved from email to a server and organized in a folder for future use.
Step 4: To analyze the information in these reports, you will have to log the results in a separate spreadsheet or database. Once the original report data is entered into a new database then it can be analyzed and trending reports can be created.
In using an app this way it is effectively a four step process:
1. Field staff creates a report.
2. Field staff sends report to main office.
3. Office staff opens and reviews report data.
4. Office staff addd data to spreadsheet for trend comparison.
5. Office can export report to share with others for review and communication.
There are some apps that make sense for “Point Solutions”. My original Mobile Device Strategy focused on five separate apps that all did things well, but did not integrate with other apps. However, to gain a better understanding of the company activities as a whole you may need to incorporate more “Integrated Solutions”. This type of solution will allow you to analyze and model the date entered into the system.
Under this scenario the process would look like:
1. Field staff enters data into a app / platform / system.
2. Office staff opens and reviews the data and can generate a report.
3. Office can export report to share with others for review and communication.
So which type of app is better for your company to use? The answer to that question will determined by what the end goal is for the workflow you are trying to improve. I would recommend that you map out your current workflows and evaluate if you are satisfied with the status quo. If you are not satisfies, then perhaps take a look at a few new options and evaluate them.