Basic requirements

Before diving into the bits and bytes of data requirements and application features, it is helpful to enumerate some basic requirements and assumptions about our Field Service Application. Here are a few items that come to mind for such an application:

■ The mobile worker is dispatched by a home office/dispatching authority, which takes care of prioritizing and distributing job orders to the appropriate technician.

■ The mobile worker is carrying an Android device, which has full data service, that is, a device capable of browsing rich web content. The application needs to access the internet for data transfer as well.

■ The home office dispatch system and the mobile worker share data via a wireless internet connection on an Android device; a laptop computer is not necessary or even desired.

■ A business requirement is the proof of completion of work, most readily accomplished with the capture of a customer's signature. Of course, an electronic signature is preferred.

■ The home office desires to receive job completion information as soon as possible, as this accelerates the invoicing process, which improves cash flow.

■ The mobile worker is also eager to perform as many jobs as possible since he is paid by the job, not by the hour, so getting access to new job information as quickly as possible is a benefit to the mobile worker.

■ The mobile worker needs information resources in the field and can use as much information as possible about the problem he is being asked to resolve. The mobile worker may have to place orders for replacement parts while in the field.

■ The mobile worker will require navigation assistance, as he is likely covering a rather large geographic area.

■ The mobile worker needs an intuitive application. One that is simple to use with a minimum number of requirements.

There are likely additional requirements for such an application, but this list is adequate for our purposes. One of the most glaring omissions from our list is security.

Security in this kind of an application comes down to two fundamental aspects. The first is physical security of the Android device. Our assumption is that the device itself is locked and only the authorized worker is using it. A bit naive perhaps, but there are more important topics we need to cover in this chapter. If this bothers you, just assume there is a sign-in screen with a password field that pops up at the most inconvenient times, forcing you to tap in your password on a very small keypad. Feel better now? The second security topic is the secure transmission of data between the

Android device and the dispatcher. This is most readily accomplished through the use of a Secure Sockets Layer (SSL) connection whenever required.

The next step in defining this application is to examine the data flows and discuss the kind of information that must be captured to satisfy the functional requirements.

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