Going mobile but need an app? Go DIY

A medical equipment company has shunned off-the-shelf and custom mobile apps for a do-it-yourself approach.
Written by Tim Lohman, Contributor

Your business is going mobile. Your sales reps have tablets, but not the apps they need to do their jobs and go paperless. What do you do?

One option is to buy an off-the-shelf solution. Another is to pay a developer to produce a custom app with the functionality you need. The third, and perhaps seldom travelled, path is to simply write your own apps.

That's the route that Surgical Specialties took, and according to the medical equipment company's head of systems support, Zaida Gudenus, it's the route that more small and medium businesses (SMBs) should take.

Speaking to ZDNet, Gudenus said that the company was challenged by the need to go mobile and empower its 50-odd sales reps across Australia and New Zealand with more efficient and accurate electronic processes when dealing with its hospital and surgeon customers.

Constrained by cost, yet wanting the flexibility of a customised solution, Surgical Specialties opted to adopt FileMaker Pro 12 to craft its own iPad-compatible tools to replace manual product and surgical technique information, consignment agreements, bookings, regulatory and compliance processes, and equipment orders.

"I learned to use it by bashing my head through it," she said. "I haven't had any training whatsoever. It may be clunky a bit, and have done better at certain things, but it worked for us. It is very [user] friendly, and FileMaker makes it very easy to change and modify things.

"You can start creating really simple things within minutes or hours, and if you want it more complicated you can do it, too."

Gudenus said the company has benefited by taking a DIY approach to mobile application development through being able to minimise use of paper and loss of physical paperwork, more efficiently prepare documents, reuse documents, and get contracts signed more quickly.

"[In going DIY] we have got exactly what we wanted," she said. "You can make it do what you want it to do, rather than having to modify someone else's application which doesn't quite fit what you want to do."

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