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Data Management App for iOS

  • Azure
  • ASP.NET MVC / WebApi
  • EF Core on MSSQL
  • Xamarin iOS
  • DevExpress XtraReports

Launched: 2016

After we built a data management app for TEG Risk, the company reported a productivity boost of 15% which in turn helped them win larger, more lucrative contracts.

TEG Risk and Sustainability Services (TEG Risk) engaged Dabble Apps in 2016 to develop an iOS app that would replace their existing method of assessing and reporting on the safety of client sites. Three years on, TEG Risk still invests in the ongoing development of the app, which paid for itself in the first 12 months. In this case study, we review the process and results with TEG Risk Director, Hamish Baker.

Project Background

Established in 2011, TEG provides engineering-based risk management advice relating to occupational safety (specialising in machinery safety) for large factories and plants across New Zealand.

Prior to the development of their app, the TEG Risk assessment team would carry out on-site inspections and evaluations by entering notes into a spreadsheet, and taking photos using a digital camera. After leaving the site, the photos would be manually matched to the corresponding notes in the spreadsheet. This spreadsheet would then be exported as a PDF, to form part of the final submission to the client.

While this process had worked well to date, both an expanding client base and physically larger sites, demanded a process overhaul to ensure efficiency, accuracy, and cost effectiveness.

About the Solution

The resulting iPad app provides a single portal for entry of text and images while mobile at a clients’ site.

To improve efficiency when on-site, various customer-supplied data-sets can be loaded into the system in advance, and made available as rapid-access lookup-lists; and more can be added in situ. Machines that occur frequently throughout assessment projects can be saved as ‘templates’, and shared across all iPad users, to save time, and standardise output.

Due to the lack of reliable internet access at client sites (which are primarily active factory floors), Dabble took an ‘offline first’ approach, only connecting to the cloud upon user request.
The sheer volume of data entered by the team; plus the amount of information and images that are combined into each report; required the development of a custom synchronization and conflict resolution module, which has resulted in lightning-fast access to thousands of data entries.

The TEG team can now produce a professional PDF report in seconds with the apps’ inbuilt Report Generator. As a result of  Dabble’s experience with third-party reporting components, back-office staff can also customise the content and appearance of this report via a web-based form builder.

TEG Risk Director, Hamish Baker, says the automated report generation available in the app, along with the ability to edit the layout of the report via the Form Builder, has resulted in “marked improvements to the overall layout and presentation of our client reports”.

About the development process

Beginning with only an example Excel Spreadsheet, Dabble liaised carefully with stakeholders to understand structure, intent, and various use-cases. After brainstorming a set of prioritised objectives, a proposed a set of solutions in the form of interactive wireframes were rapidly constructed. Dabble then worked closely with the TEG Risk team to finalize the structure and workflow process for the app, leveraging strengths of the mobile platform, whilst maintaining a familiar process.

The development of the initial iOS app took around 12 weeks, with regular iterations available for TEG evaluation. A further 6 weeks of functional and user acceptance testing was performed before active use in the field.

Since the initial go-live, the app has undergone four App Store releases, and two major infrastructural revisions, with each release including significant functionality enhancements.
To ensure a smooth transition when deploying upgrades, Dabble works closely with TEG to develop a mutually agreeable strategy and timeline; and ensures comprehensive testing is carried out within staging and production environments.

Ongoing development continues to boost productivity

Due to the business-related benefits afforded by the app, TEG continues to invest in its development.
Most recently, as staff became increasingly comfortable with the iPads, the app has become the primary data-entry tool, even when at the office. TEG therefore requested enhancements to keyboard accessibility and ergonomics, which has again boosted productivity.

With each client-initiated upgrade to the app, Dabble pro-actively identifies additional features and functionalities that could help streamline the workflow.
As TEG won increasingly large contracts, Dabble identified areas in the application where usability may decline due to inherently expansive data sets. Dabble had a solution prepared before it was needed, and once put in place, it immediately reduced data-discover time by an order of magnitude.

The Results

Today, the app has been used on over 20 projects – which totals well over 1000 machine risk assessments; more than 3500 evaluated hazards; and over 8,000 photographic assets. Baker says that to date, there has been a productivity increase of 15% on average. He adds that while the general IT skill level of staff using iOS devices was ‘average’, all have easily transitioned to the app.

Additionally, the app has significantly reduced ocurrances of human error, whilst improving productivity consistency across engineers, resulting in more accurate and refined fee proposals.

How the app paid for itself in less than a year

Baker explains that the app has allowed the team to save time on jobs, which reduces the cost to clients – and that has in turn helped secure larger contracts.

“We were invited to quote on a significant machine-safety risk assessment project for a large New Zealand meat processing company, but cost was a consideration for them”, Baker explains. “However, due to the efficiencies afforded by our new app, we were able to submit a project fee proposal that was 20% less than we would have submitted when we were using our previous Excel spreadsheet method. Because of this project fee reduction we were able to win a job we would have otherwise not have been awarded.”

Winning that particular assessment project also meant that the app paid for itself in under a year.

About Me

I've been designing and building software for over 30 years. In that time I've worked across the world with numerous organisations in a wide range of verticals, utilising a wide range of technologies - including speech recognition; mobile device platforms; and medical hardware integration.