The development of mobile applications based on SAP technology (Mobile Infrastructure, Mobile Web DynPro) is not rocket science. If you are a skilled Java or ABAP developer you can do it! In general an Mobile Infrastructure development project is no different from any other development project you have worked on in the past! But with every new technology there are new things you have to think about, new snares and new challenges. There is less experience and not many people you can ask for help. But because of this we have the SDN, the great forums and now another blog dealing with the development of mobile applications. In my blog posts I want to give you some hints about what differentiates mobile development from desktop or server development and what you should watch for during your development project. I will post tips and trick (you could also call it best practices) about the development of mobile applications in general and Mobile Infrastructure/Mobile Web DynPro in particular. Topics discussed will be user interface design, usability,software architecture, performance and others. For most things I will be able to provide you examples from my projects, what went wrong there and how it can be done better. Today I want to ask you: Do you think the current generation of mobile software is ready for the big market? And I don’t mean an installation for a developer to play around with the software. I don’t mean installations for 5, 10 or 50 end users. I mean big, huge installations with thousands of devices connected to one system. I want to talk about installations where you have thousands of business objects like equipments, trips or contacts downloaded to a device. I know a lot of people who would say: No, it is not ready. They talk about failed projects that prove that the current software generation is not ready. They come with examples and customer names of projects that went horribly wrong. I always counter this answer and ask: “But why did the project fail? What went wrong?” If you then hear the reasons, most of the time it is one of the following: Unskilled consultants, missing information, wrong software, poor usability, weak user interface or no sizing done. But these are all things that can be addressed – if you think about them before you start your project. My personal answer to the question? Yes! Today’s mobile software is ready for large installations! Many successful projects prove that this is the case. Just some examples of projects I was involved in:
- SAP MAM at a German real estate management company: They went live 2006 with nearly 1000 users on PDAs. They have an optimized UI that exactly fits their needs. Their middleware and backend was sized to hold the load. The project was successful.
- SAP Mobile Time and Travel at a world wide operating legal services company: They are live with more then 30 000 users on laptops. They enhanced standard MTT to improve usability then with the standard MTT. They have multiple middleware and backend servers. The customer is live and happy with the solution.
You see? It is possible to do it successfully! The key factors are always the people doing the implementation. In my opinion you should ratter go with the second best solution and the best people than with the best solution and the second best people. If the development/implementation/consulting team has experience in mobile software implementations, if they know how to create a good user interface for small screens and if they are not afraid to ask questions, then the project will be successful! It is a whole different situation now compared to 4 years ago when I first came into contact with SAP’s mobile software. The quality is much better, the amount of features and functionality has grown and also the PDA hardware is much stronger now than back then. But enough for today, let’s get the Business in Motion!.