Top 3 Tips when taking software to mobile devices2015-Apr-07


Introduction

Can we have a version of that for Tablet and Smartphone please? We have long since passed the point where tablets and smart phones are being used for business, the challenge is when a proprietary system has functionality that is inaccessible on these devices. This article attempts to address the key criteria to assess before taking that step forward.

Which part?
"We want to use the system on our iPad" is all well and fine, but does the entire system need to be accessible via a tablet? For example, in a CRM system, the list of clients and client contacts is viewed almost every time the user logs on, it's a primary purpose of the system, but do they really to be able to change their user settings or schedule reports to run via a tablet version? It might make sense to take a phased approach and leave the less frequently used parts of the system for a future phase, if at all. The main objective is usually to make the frequently used parts of the system available on different devices, not to make a complete mobile version of the system, making that distinction can save an awful lot of time and money.

Which way?
The existing systems architecture will influence many of the decisions to be made and also affect what sort of effort will be required. Having the same functionality implemented on different platforms will greatly increase the effort and costs when implementing new or changing existing functionality. For example in a windows-based system, it might make sense to move all common functionality to a WCF service that can be called by both the windows application and the mobile version, this would ensure only 1 set of code and greatly increase maintainability. Thought has to go into which platforms to develop for, is both Android and iOS required? If so, can that perhaps be implemented by making a dynamic web-based version of the application (using responsive or adaptive html) that is then accessible and works across platforms. Often a change to the main application can make moving forward much easier.

Watch it!
Maintain the system's integrity is often overlooked in these types of projects, with all the excitement of moving to a mobile platform issues such as system and data security can be overlooked and with this different type of accessibility come different types of security challenges. The usability of the system is also something that can be underestimated, to do this properly the commonly used pieces of the system need to be redesigned so that they are usable on the different devices. To get the most out of the system it will look different on a tablet from a Smartphone.


George Toursoulopoulos is a technology specialist and Director at Synetec, one of the UK’s leading providers of software services and solutions.