The Effectiveness of Task-focused Mobile Apps in the “Real World”
When I plan my travel, I prefer to use a mobile app to book my hotel. I don’t use the web because I know it will take longer. The website is full of unnecessary information. In contrast, the mobile app’s screens are simple and clear. I can make my reservation with one thumb — and within seconds. That’s what makes the mobile app so appealing.
The most useful mobile apps are easy to use and task focused. Josh Clark said, in Tapworthy: Designing Great iPhone Apps, “People use mobile apps when they’re mobile. We use apps in a spare minute. The best apps fold neatly into the fabric of a busy schedule.”
The need for task-focused, convenient mobile apps is as important in our jobs as it is in our day-to-day lives. Imagine how much more productive we can be with the help of mobile apps. Consider this example:
Improving productivity is always the goal of citizen service operation. The job of case workers requires extensive field work and client contact. Mobile apps can help case workers improve productivity both on casework and non-casework. Case workers can fully leverage device features, such as GPS and camera, to innovate their working processes. It brings a higher level of job satisfaction…and productivity.
Let’s picture how mobile apps change a case worker’s job. “Susan” works for a Child and Family Services agency. She often has an intense schedule filled with staff meetings, field visits, court appearances, and report writing. As a Mobile Case Worker, Susan spends over 50 percent of her time in the field.
When she is waiting for a client, she uses productivity apps to fill time sheet and log mileage. Those apps help her spend less time on non-value-added activities so that she can spend more time with clients.
Mobile devices are getting lighter and thinner, but even more powerful. It is easier and safer for Susan to carry a smart phone in her pocket when visiting high risk areas.
Susan notices an incident when she walks down street. She uses an incident report app to take a photo, that is then integrated with GPS location information; adds a short note and then submits the incident to a central case management system. The information will support future investigation and, if necessary, intervention.
A Mobile Enterprise Management solution enables case workers to conveniently and securely access case management system information — anywhere and anytime. It reduces data re-entering and improves data accuracy. It makes it possible to share data and information across systems and agencies in real time. With this capability, case workers are able to get a better situation overview and provide better, more people-centric services.
Susan uses Mobile Case Worker app to review case documents, update case status, take photos and fill questionnaires when she is in the field — no need to spend hours on re-processing the data in the office.
According to a survey conducted by the Bureau of Milwaukee Child Welfare in Wisconsin, 60 percent of respondents indicated that if mobile devices were available they would be able to use them to improve their productivity between 4 to 8 hours per week. Case workers in parts of Texas and Oklahoma are already using mobile devices to access information, aid in streamlined documentation, and make use of waiting time. (www.childwelfare.gov/pubs/case_work_management/).
Confidentiality is Susan’s primary concern. In the past, she carried only one case file per visit. She had to return it to the office and pick up the file for her next case before heading back out to the field. Despite this rather inconvenient system, files get damaged or lost and/or unauthorized people could get access to a misplaced file. Mobile Enterprise Management solution addresses these issues. Susan can have all needed files available via her mobile device; user login is enforced; data transmission is encrypted. File authorization is based on a user’s role. If a device is lost, the administrator can remotely lock or wipe-out the device.
Susan has a difficult and demanding job. At night, when she can finally relax, she pulls up her tablet and has a quick glance at her dashboard reports. She is glad to see that the number of days between client visits has been reduced dramatically since the agency deployed mobile solutions. She has more time to study the training materials on her tablet, prepare for the next day…and perhaps a little more time for herself and her family, too.