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Software Suite for Mobile Technicians and Field Service Management

.NET
MS SQL
iOS
Android
Logistics and transportation

Description

Handyman is a software suite streamlining management of field service workers. With the help of iPhone, iPad, or Android devices it enables efficient data exchange and work coordination between field and office staff. The suite consist of a desktop part and a mobile application that synchronize to allow for assigning tasks, scheduling on site works, tracking progress, and information updates.

The customer

ePocket Solutions AS is a Norwegian company focused on creating applications that improve the efficiency of service field workers. The company turned to Altoros to develop a desktop service management software suite. The efficient cooperation resulted in a new project—a mobile client for Apple iOS and Android devices.

The need

The requirements of the customer were, as follows:

  • The software suite had to be a highly scalable, flexible platform with possibilities of customization, so it could be used by small and large companies in different industries.
  • The mobile client had to enable to manage resources (people and assets) more cost-effectively by measuring daily productivity of workers, reducing overtime, and preventing downtime.
  • With the help of the application the customer wanted to reach the following goals: decrease transportation costs due to more efficient scheduling, simplify billing and invoicing of the field service orders. These improvements would help to enhance service quality and the overall company performance.

The challenges

Handyman had to be a one-platform solution serving many industries: electrical, telecommunications, utilities, construction, and others. That is why the application needed to provide for top-notch scalability and flexibility. The company already had a desktop version of a product with legacy back-end created with Visual Basic and wanted to stick to its structure and architecture. So, Altoros team had to provide the solution that would allow to keep the old architecture and add new elements and functions. To provide an equally convenient way of using the mobile app, the customer needed a universal and identical interface for iPhone, iPad, and Android devices, which was tricky to fully implement due to UI design differences. To ensure the same layout on all devices, the team had to elaborate a new solution that will resolve the interface standardization issue.

The solution

To keep the Visual Basic architecture in the software suite, the team utilized VB.NET that allowed for porting some of the old modules and adding new functionality. - To ensure fast and easy platform customization for different customers, the developers introduced a possibility to install plug-ins and extensions. This allowed to add new functionality without modifying the code of the suite. The customers in different industries can deploy a completely new functionality that does not depend on the basic features. - To provide with one universal user interface that will look good across different desktop and mobile platforms, the team created new classes. By virtue of this solution, the application does not have to check the type of device before start, thus reducing the load and speeding up performance.

The outcome

Handyman is a service management software suite that streamlines the management of field service workers. It enables mobile technicians to exchange data and coordinate their work with office-based colleagues using iPhone, iPad, or Android devices. The product comprises a desktop part and a mobile application installed on the devices of the service staff. The application is synchronized with the office version and enables to assign a task, schedule site visits, track the progress, and keep the information up-to-date.

Handyman can also be used to standardize the way certain kinds of activities are handled. The suite provides with a servicing plan that is based on the instructions for every particular industry. As soon as the worker performs the task—runs tests, changes spare parts, or carries out other repair/maintenance tasks—a special field in the application should be filled in. This helps to track the time spent on every activity. If needed, a technician can make a photo onsite and send it to the office to get new instructions. Also, one can write a comment in the task field to inform the co-workers that currently it’s Impossible to complete the work and state the reasons. Additionally, the application allows to track the mobile technician’s location. Due to this, the managers can better distribute the tasks and elaborate the routes to use technicians’ time more efficiently. The information about the fulfilled orders is sent back to the server and can be used for invoicing, customer management, marketing, etc. The application speeds up critical processes, improves service quality, and minimizes downtime.

ePocket Solutions AS received an easily extensible and customizable service management software suite that can be offered to various companies across different industries to improve the quality of their work. In Norway, where the company was founded, nearly 50% of all electricians use this application every day as an essential part of their working life. Aside from electricians, this suite is widely used by mobile workers in other sectors, such as utilities, construction, telecoms, manufacturing, plumbing, heating, and facilities management. The recent informal feedback from the world’s leading software research vendor suggests that ePocket AS is in a global top 4 companies list in the marketplace for standardized mobile field service solutions.

Technology stack

Server platform

Windows Server 2003/2008, MS SQL 2005/2008

Programming languages

VB.NET, T-SQL, Objective-C, C, Java

Technologies

.NET Framework 4, Entity Framework, DevExpress Controls, Cocoa Touch, UIKit Framework

Databases

MS SQL 2005/2010, SQL Lite

Client Platform/Application Server

Windows XP, Windows 7, iPad, iPhone, Android

Database Design Tool

Visio 2010

Development Environment

Visual Studio 2010

Modeling Tool

Visio 2010

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