If ever there was a perch in a company that connects all the dots: independent developers with really cool ideas, business decision makers with big budgets and bigger visions, or non-profit developers with efficient budgets and change-the-world dreams, it’s the position which I’m fortunate enough to occupy here at Appcelerator. I get to meet all these people once a month at headquarters; see, I manage the training programs from operations to execution. I also manage our global Authorized Training Partner programs, connecting the trainers with the students. And that’s how I had the fortune to meet with Edwin Huertas, CEO of Shockoe.com. Don’t let his easy going nature fool you, Edwin Huertas is one of those kind of guys that smiles quietly, and listens intently while inside his mind he is working out solutions and setting ideas into motion. Whether he’s in front of a classroom stepping through each module of our Titanium courses to get his students into the worldwide community of Titanium Certified Application Developers or he’s offering practical real world mobile app services for enterprises, Huertas exemplifies the way in which Shockoe.com is a valued partner for Appcelerator. System integrators and application development firms both partner with Appcelerator to deliver world-class mobile solutions to their customers. We are very excited to have Shockoe.com as both a Select Authorized Training Partner and Gold Integration Partner in Virginia and Latin America. For more on Shockoe and their role in this partnership, Edwin Huertas has written the following article. So let’s offer him a warm welcome into the Appcelerator family.
One of the most rewarding parts of Shockoe’s partnership with Appcelerator is listening to Titanium’s growing user base and their reasons for learning the platform. As big business flocks to the mobile industry, we find that our students come into training with a plan to integrate mobile apps into their enterprise. The resulting “how do I” discussions serve as one of the most interesting parts of the class while also making for a great practical learning experience.
Apps are booming and enterprise businesses want in; their growing interest in harnessing mobile technology will have a staggering impact on the mobile market over the next three years. Here are a few of the ‘best practices’ we’ve learned over the years here at Shockoe that may help enterprises take their first steps into the mobile world.
Seek Out High-Visibility Issues
For any business/organization considering taking their first step towards extending their company’s architecture to mobile devices, addressing an issue that involves severe cost concerns might seem daunting; however, resolving these isssues can often be some of the best projects to take on. The fear of backlash from a failed project is far outweighed by the potential benefits of a successful product’s lasting effects on an organization’s growth.
Scope of Deployment
Much like other software projects, requirements management is an extremely important part of successfully developing and deploying a mobile application. The easiest way to assess the true scope of your project is to ask yourself (and your team) a few simple questions:
What are your goals?
What are your constraints?
What current tools or processes do you have in place?
Which device(s) and platform(s) are you targeting?
What is your deployment process?
How feasible is this project?
What happens if the scope or requirements change? How do you assess the impact of the change?
Defining a clear project scope is the first step in the development process. Most times a scope statement can seem mundane, but it’s always an integral step for development. There are plenty of questions, concerns and unknown elements that will show up throughout the project and creating a scope statement helps to ensure that everyone involved (stakeholders, developers, management, etc ) is aware of the guidelines that will be used to prioritize any surprise revelations.
Mix Equal Parts Best-of-Breed and Stakeholder Flexibility
The mobile device arena is still new to most enterprises. As more companies adapt to mobile technologies, more standards will be created, as well as new devices, new software, new niches, etc. The market is changing fast, so it’s important to adopt ‘best-of-breed’ technologies. With that being said, it is equally important to make sure that your organization’s stakeholders understand and appreciate technology’s rapid evolution.
Essentially there are two things that need to happen in order to deliver the successful app. First, the stakeholders need to make a commitment to developers, while understanding that something might change (new devices, new platforms, software add-ins, new user behaviors, etc.,) and frequent updates might, and most likely will, be required. As the second, the developers need to be mindful of the best solutions, both logically and technologically, to provide the best overall product to deliver on behalf of the stakeholders.
Clean and intuitive design is paramount, especially in mobile devices. User experience might be the number one consideration any design and development team has to consider while building mobile extensions (apps) for enterprise. The design team needs to focus their efforts towards planning and implementing a product with the best user experience, because without users a product is useless. Most of the time this involves a large amount of user testing, but it will almost always add tremendous value to the final product.
Showing stakeholders and potential users mock ups like wireframes, light interactive models, or even explaining what the proposed app will look like, generates useful feedback that can be used to enhance the end-user’s experience. Once a desired user experience is determined, the development team may figure out the other functions like the app’s security, management of the app, and any deployment mechanisms.
Test, Test, Test
By generating multiple tests and iterations with a small batch of power users, the application can take leaps forward through its stages of developement. Generating issues by thoroughly testing the application can in turn serve as a preventative actions against further issues that may occur. It is very important to establish some sort of issue tracking (ticket tracking) system to be used during the development process, so that problems in the app’s functionality/design may be resolved quickly and efficiently. The more testing your app goes through during development the better off it will be when it faces the ‘real-world’ with its first release.
At Shockoe, we are excited to help our students and clients extend their enterprise to the mobile. Mobile development is growing precipitously in the United States and Appcelerator’s recent announcement with SAP are a clear validation that big business is serious about finding solutions to problems that mobile can readily solve. As fast as mobile development is growing in the United States, it is truly exploding in places like South America; areas into which Shockoe is expanding with the help of Appcelerator’s superior toolset.
Edwin Huertas is the CEO of Shockoe.com. You can follow him on twitter @shockoe and like Shockoe.com on facebook here.
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