Best practices for the deployment of mobile workforce management services in government

MetroGrove-WebMobileLogo-512

Ensure staff acceptance to realize real digital workforce efficiency

As the digitization of government services accelerates, the strains of this change have weighed heavily on government workers. The senior staff, largely of the baby boomer generation, are being asked to throw out decades worth of paper driven processes in favor of paperless environments, driven by tablet and smartphone based applications. Junior staff, particularly millennials, are surprised by how far behind government systems are from the video games and apps they have grown up using. For millennials moving from a world designed around easy to use, intuitive UIs, to a form and data driven environment can quickly leave them doubting their future in government service.

Sad millennial

“Fear, uncertainty and discomfort are your compasses toward growth” – Barack Obama

With the launch of our Metro Grove service, we have been at the forefront of developing and releasing mobile applications for use by government employees to enhance workforce efficiency. That experience has taught us some of the best practices on introducing new technology to staff at both ends of seniority spectrum, and at a pace that permits the staff to adapt comfortably, without rejecting the change. Here are some of our learnings:

Massive change invites massive failure

One of the first lessons we share is not to change everything overnight. The introduction of tablets or smartphones alone can be a challenge for staff. Getting the right display and system options configured for all users should be the first step taken and staff should be given time to play with the new devices to get used to how they work with familiar apps such as email and web browsers. This comfort with the new devices will then make new applications easier to consume over time, and ensure those services are not rejected due to a lack of understanding on how the new devices work.

Mimic the current paper process

Senior staff in particular will want the new application they use to very closely mimic the old paper processes they are used to performing. In our experience, with building and safety inspectors, we found developing and deploying forms that skilled users could easily move through as if they were filling in the paper equivalents was required. This will help to ensure full technology buy-in by the senior staff.

Listen to the feedback

After the platform and the applications were rolled out, we then began to get suggestions on how to make the service run more smoothly. This feedback included re-arranging data collection fields so they more closely fit with the activities taking place outside the office. As workers started to embrace the technology and the flexibility our solution provided, they became our best references for how to make their own jobs more efficient.

Wizards for Millennials

While the more senior workers knew what data fields and forms they needed to use from experience, more junior employees benefitted from the introduction of wizards that walked them through the process. Leveraging smart, intuitive interface designs, data could be collected quickly, but also checked for range/bounds errors on the fly ensuring clean data collection by new staff.

Magic Moment: Retiring the paper process

The magic moment for the deployment of our mobile workforce service, was when many of the senior workers stopped using the traditional paper-based forms and started using the wizards to collect the data. They had discovered, largely on their own and in conversation with their junior staffers, that the wizard helped to act as a check on the data they were collecting, and was able to remind them when they had forgotten to perform a step. This allowed the supervisors to build the case to end the paper process enshrined in the first iteration of the app and standardize the organization on the wizard-based data collection. This in turn helped to increase the integrity of the data collected and enhance the efficiency of the field processes significantly, which was the ultimate goal of the digital transition in the first place.

BCSA Mobile App

The Metro Grove Advantage

And so we have designed our Metro Grove service to support paced, methodical deployments of mobile workforce management solutions to ensure a sustainable pace of change for government staff. With the ability to customize the deployment, we can support both old and new approaches to collecting data, and help to minimize the impact on staff during the change. This allows senior employees to adapt steadily and realize greater efficiency, while junior employees can make an impact and get the positive reinforcement they need to stay motivated. Change can be painful, but we have designed our service to minimize the impact and ensure a high level of acceptance by our government customers.

Mobile Apps for Political Parties: Engaging Voters, Donors and Volunteers

Mobile Apps for Politics

While political parties and politicians are using Twitter and Facebook to reach their target audience on mobile devices, they are finding their message is simply being echoed back to them, or they are being trolled hard by their opposition, making social media a difficult environment to move political dialog forward in a meaningful way.

Enter mobile applications as a means of engaging the public in a more thoughtful public dialog, linking in capabilities, such as push notifications that allow political organizations to actively mobilize and build their base in a troll-free manner. In this edition of Plugged-In, I share some of my past experience in working with political organizations, and make the case on why more parties, particularly in Canada, should be looking at mobile apps as a measurable means of engaging the public.

Let Us Port Your BlackBerry App To Apple and Android

Need to port your BlackBerry App?

So back in September (2016), BlackBerry announced they had stopped making their own phones and like all fans of the iconic Canadian technology, I went through the five stages of grief.

Denial: I can’t believe it! No way would BlackBerry do that! The keyboard …
Anger: It’s a conspiracy, like the Avro Arrow … the government wanted them to cancel this …
Bargaining: I promise not to never mock how slow the BlackBerry Playbook was again …
Depression: Life is pointless without a smartphone with a keyboard … I’m going back to a flip phone …
Acceptance: I’m getting an iPhone 7

I remember my first BlackBerry, a 957, which I acquired for a step $750 CDN back in 2002. I’ve owned or used just about every BlackBerry product since, and while I haven’t loved them all, I do respect the consistency in the security provided by the platform, and I know a lot of other enterprises and governments have as well.

And because of this, your organization may still have a number of custom apps developed for the BlackBerry, and now they are quickly approaching end of life.

Let us help you get that app off BlackBerry and onto an iPhone or Android platform. Give us a call and book a 30 minute discussion with us on how to get it ported quickly and painlessly.

Free 30 Minute Mobile App Consultation

Free Mobile App Tune Up

Is your mobile app underperforming? Give us 30 min to consult on it, and help you make it a winner.

Did you start to sense it was underperforming when you read some bad user reviews in the app store? Did you see the worrisome “This app crashed when I opened it,” or the generic, “This app sucks” in the comment feeds?

Did Apple send you an email letting you know your app wasn’t up to their standard, and they were going to pull it from the store? Was the content out of date? Maybe the graphics looked pixelated on your new Pixel XL device? Perhaps that last push notification didn’t buzz on your new smartwatch?

There could be lots of reasons, but if your analytics are showing that your downloads and usage are down dramatically, your app is underperforming.

We can help you. Take us up on a free 30min consultation. We will tell you how to get your app back on track. We will apply our 8 years of custom app development experience to your underperforming app and tell you how to get back on track.

And we’ve done this before. In fact, Sylvain Marcotte, our CEO, has a passion for design improvement in the world around him. One of our first customers was his favourite radio station, whom he called one day after being frustrated with how their app worked.

“I love the music you guys play,” he shared, “But your app is terrible! Can I help you make it better?” Obviously, they didn’t want to be perceived as having a bad app, especially for what they were still being charged by their previous developer, and took us up on our offer and within a few months, the app was getting rave reviews.

Sharing the way to make things better with our customers is part of our DNA. We will make your great content and services available to your audience wrapped in the best approaches to design and delivery. Our process will help identify if you are hitting the real business driver for your app, and then tune it to best meet those needs.

So, don’t wait to get a call from Sylvain! Give us a ring. At 14 Oranges, we specialize in building apps that don’t underperform, and we have a passion for making the business behind your app better, and allowing you to get the value you deserve from your mobile app investment.

New City of Richmond Mobile App Will Enhance Building Inspection Efficiency

City of Richmond Building Inspector Using Metro Grove App

The City of Richmond, British Columbia, launches Metro Grove, 14 Oranges’ mobile-first app service for managing field workers. Part of Richmond’s innovative Digital Strategy, the app will drive increased inspection efficiency making for a more business friendly and smarter city.

PRWeb: Richmond, B.C., March 9, 2017

The City of Richmond has launched a new mobile app to increase the efficiency of its building inspectors. The mobile application, based on the Metro Grove Mobile Workforce Management Service provided by Richmond-based 14 Oranges, allows inspectors to perform and file an inspection from their smartphone instead of the current mixture of paper and interactive voice response (IVR) based systems.

The new app is part of a broad initiative rooted in Richmond’s innovative Digital Strategy, which was approved by City Council in 2015. The goal of the strategy is to integrate the Cities’ systems using a middleware approach, dubbed the Digital Nervous Ecosystem and enhance customer service and improve efficiency through the use of new digital technology. This application is one of a part of a series of initiatives that will help improve the way the City of Richmond meets the needs of the public and businesses operating in the City.

Metro Grove Inspection App

The app provides a simple, straightforward way for Richmond’s building inspectors to view their respective inspection task list for the day on their smartphone of choice and input, post, and synchronize their results and comments to the existing inspection management system. This app simplifies the current approach of handwriting inspection results in the field that in-office clerks input later or navigating IVR trees to feed the information back into the City.

“Contractors and trades will be able to get almost instantaneous feedback of the inspection results and remediate any reported deficiencies sooner,” said Malcolm Brodie, the Mayor of the City of Richmond, “Overall, this enhances the customer experience and satisfaction, demonstrating that Richmond is a business-friendly city.”

The smartphone technology, developed against the 14 Oranges (http://www.14oranges.com) Metro Grove Mobile Workforce Management Service, delivers a persistent and stable connection to the legacy backend systems for data retrieval and updates enabled by Richmond’s Information Technology Department. As well, the mobile platform provides easy and uncluttered navigation between screens. This enables the inspectors to complete their assignments quickly and efficiently.

About the City of Richmond
The City of Richmond is BC’s fourth largest municipality with a vision “to be the most appealing, livable and well-managed community in Canada.” An Official Venue City of the 2010 Olympic Winter Games, Richmond is internationally acclaimed for its cultural diversity, healthy lifestyles, and natural environment. Home for Vancouver International Airport, deep sea port facilities, and the Canada Line, Richmond is a global centre for transportation, trade and distribution. The City of Richmond has received numerous provincial, national and international accolades for innovation and excellence in service delivery and local government administration.

Media Contact: Ted Townsend
Director, Corporate Communications and Marketing, City of Richmond
Tel: 604-276-4399, Cell: 604-516-9585
Email: TTownsend(at)richmond(dot)ca

About 14 Oranges
14 Oranges is a leading provider of turnkey mobile application services to support the efficient management of mobile workforces. Headquartered in Richmond, BC with offices in Ottawa and Halifax, 14 Oranges sells its services to government agencies and medium to large enterprises who are dependent on mobile workforces. 14 Oranges’ mobile application services brings a mobile-first design approach, allowing mobile workers to use their own smartphones to stay on-task, minimize drive time and increase valid data capture. Managers realize an immediate ROI both in terms of worker efficiency and the ability to manage more workers from a single interface.

The Discount USA Car Rental App and the Uberfication of Everything

Discount USA Car Rental Closeup

Whenever I travel, I find myself inundated with requests to rent a car. Every time I purchase a plane ticket, or reserve a hotel room or visit a tourism website I’m asked if I want to rent a car from a certain provider at a discounted rate, and its never seems to be my preferred car rental agency.

Then when I go to my preferred car rental website, I don’t see that rate offered at that destination, or the car I wanted. I keep feel like I’m missing out! Why can’t I just go to one place and find it all again and get the best deal possible?

This is the frustration the Discount USA Car Rental app has been designed to solve. They have the same discounted rates offered up to all airlines and hotels through their site for all the rental agencies in one place. This allows you to see the best deals and allows you see the best deals available where you are going.

This app, developed by 14 Oranges for Discount USA Car Rental joins the world of “on demand” apps also discussed as being part of the “Uberfication of everything” trend. It’s the idea that consumers what to a single place to go and find the rock-bottom best price for good service, and it should be turnkey and as frictionless as possible.

Package deals for hotels, airlines and car rental agencies made sense at one point because of the literal friction involved in making bookings in the 70s and 80s. There was friction on your fingers while you leafed through paper catalogs filled with star rated hotels at travel agencies. There was friction from squirming in an uncomfortable chair at the travel agent while they booked your airline ticket through a 900 baud connected reservation computer. Then, after an hour sitting in the stale coffee infused travel office in rayon pants, a self-inflicted form of friction mind you, if the package offered you an orange Ford Tempo with roll-down windows as your air conditioning option, you took it just to get out.

Now with hotel and airline reservations literally available within seconds through on-demand discount airline and hotel apps, it makes sense to have a standalone rental app that also gives you the best deal without any of the packaged entanglements.

Because nobody wants revisit trauma caused by that family trip to the Florida Everglades in that orange Ford Tempo with no AC!