A successful mobile app – particularly one designed to be useful on the small screen of a phone and not just on a tablet – needs to be very focussed. It should not try to do everything a full laptop/dektop application does, but what it does do, it should do in the simplest way, following the most straightforward process and with the fewest clicks. This is a particularly important consideration in the area of mobile CRM, since CRM applications such as sugarCRM typically do a very wide variety of things. Therefore, even though there is a mobile version of SugarCRM, we believe that the most important tasks can be better served by an app that is more tightly focussed on a very precise need, rather than a general mobile app that tries to do everything for everybody.
One of our clients uses case and task management in SugarCRM to manage all work done by the IT department, including hours spent. We customized SugarCRM’s existing Case module and created a new “Work Record” module to track the hours worked on cases and tasks, allowing the client to report on all work being done and also on how much resources any particular case, or type of case, took. The IT department does not use any other modules in SugarCRM (although other departments do).
The customized modules work well on a laptop, however, a laptop isn’t always at hand, so we determined that it would be valuable to build a special mobile app just for case and task management, and time tracking.
Our mobile app is explicitly to facilitate working on cases and tasks while away from your laptop or desktop. Therefore it is designed to do two things:
- To create or open and view a case assigned to you
- To input the hours you worked on a case, and describe what you did, as quickly and efficiently as possible
These functions allow employees working outside the office to quickly find out what their next job is and to track how long it takes to do it, wherever they are. With those two tasks in mind we designed a simplified interface that eliminates everything outside these tasks.
When you open the app, you have a few options: find a case or create one. The cases in the system can be browsed (either just those assigned to you, or the full list) or searched. All browse and search options are listed in the main menu, so each option is a single click from the home page.
Creating a case requires a bit of data entry, but here again we went through the data required on the desktop/laptop version and eliminated the data entry requirements that we could – typing into a phone is more time consuming than typing on a keyboard, so we put off whatever could be put off until you return to the office.
Tracking time spent on each case is very valuable, but tracking hours should not itself be a time-consuming task. Therefore, like on the full module, we ask only for a very brief description and the amount of time (there is also a space for a longer description, mainly so that, if a task that should take one hour in fact ends up taking four hours, you have a space to explain why that happened). Here the mobile version actually does better than the desktop/laptop version: the mobile app includes its own stopwatch, allowing you to track your time precisely without much effort. Just click to start and click to stop the task.
Your CRM does a lot of different things for a lot of different people. We don’t think that a mobile app – especially a phone app – should try to do all of your CRM. It should focus on the particular needs of a particular set of users. Otherwise it will be too unwieldy for the mobile interface to support well. That’s what our mobile case app does: it supports people working on cases and tasks in SugarCRM when they are out of the office.