All-in-one ERP with GPS capability

Open Infra is an internal tool for a communications operator that builds, manages and develops fibre and electrical infrastructure for households, companies and municipalities.

Key Features

  • All-in-one ERP with GPS capability
  • Booking appointments
  • Automatic email notifications
  • Full responsiveness for mobile devices and PC
  • Task management capabilities
  • Key account information accessible in multiple ways
  • Frontline worker location tracking

Issues With a Multi-Tool Operational Stack

Before the client came to us, they were relying on a third-party system to work on their needs with a map. The technology stack was sourced from a few different tools that did not work together well.

The solution had a few different problems:

  • The system was highly limited. It covered only the basic needs of the client, with several advanced capabilities missing.
  • The system was slow. The constant lag and long loading times put a serious dent in the operational efficiency of the client.
  • The system had no scalability. Introducing new use cases into the system was a pain since it was not flexible at all. Starting to work on a new area of business meant having to find yet another separate third-party tool to cover the new needs.

Since the client had to use several different apps to cover their needs, that caused sub-optimal results, wasted time and monthly fees.

As the company works in several different countries and regions, in addition to having contracts with other companies to do certain work, there was a strong need to centralise all of the operations into one application.

TOOL USED

Bubble.io

TOOL USED

Bubble.io

DELIVERABLES

UX/UI Design

Web Development

DELIVERABLES

UX/UI Design

Web Development

Designing a Multi-Purpose Professional Platform

We stepped in with a solution - an all-in-one web app that helps our client manage their core business - installing and maintaining electrical and fibre optic lines.

A tool like that requires extreme care in both its development and design stages, as it should be created with multiple use cases and user roles in mind.

That was the main design challenge we faced: adapting the same tool so it would function well in different roles.

Technicians and project managers would use it for tracking progress on installations, usage of materials, schedules, placement of existing infrastructure and all installed connections, while administration workers would oversee the picture of the whole company and use it as a management tool, to access and download data.

The platform was designed as a mobile-first responsive web app, as it was very important to make it clear and usable for technicians and salespeople who mostly use this tool on mobile devices while working outside.

However, all the elements in the technicians' view responsively adapt for bigger devices used by office staff.

We made the app according to how the company’s workflows were already structured and aimed to make it as clear as possible for everyday task management.

For example, relevant customers/addresses can be found both in list form and through a map. Within each address is a space dedicated to tracking and reporting on tasks.

When working on an individual installation a technician can easily see remaining tasks and easily mark their progress.

Building an All-In-One Operations Management Web App

We chose to migrate the client's system to Bubble.io as there we would be able to create all of the required functionality in one place, without the need to have several different systems to do the same job.

The most important part of the app - the map for managing telecommunications installation, had to be fully scalable. We chose to integrate Bubble.io and the Mapbox API.

Before starting the project, we created a Bubble.io plugin that helped us create custom interactions between the map and the application thus unlocking the possibility to create custom functionality to fit the client's needs and leave the ability to scale later on.

The plugin is available for purchase on Bubble Marketplace: Advanced MapBox Maps Plugin.

The whole database design from links to even field names was set up distinctly to fit the link between Bubble.io and Mapbox. The rest of the system was built to work around this connection: the database was set up to cover the functioning of the map and also cover the rest of the system's needs.

The rest of the system was designed and built based on the specific needs of the client: the ability to interact with data, export it in bulk and interact with clients without leaving the application.

MAP AND NAVIGATION

A place to visually see the project scope, markers and their colours signify objects and their respective tasks, lines mark what type of work has been carried out between properties

PROPERTY CONNECTIONS

Every property has its own set of tasks to be completed and their progress with all required details can be viewed and edited in the property connections window

REPORTING OF QUANTITIES

A page for tracking daily use of materials, comparing to overall project estimates and exporting relevant data

WORK SCHEDULE

A scheduling feature for technicians to be able to easily see their daily appointments and tasks that get scheduled by the management team

Life With a Custom-Built No Code Solution

With the current solution, our customer has a faster, highly centred system with all of the required functions in one place. Most business operations can now be done in the same system, while every employee and partner can use it with their appropriate permissions.

This makes the customer's work faster, communication between different teams easier, while storing, saving, viewing and exporting data has now become much easier due to it being in the same place.

The system leaves space for scalability, as any future needs or extra functions can be easily implemented into the same system without the need to rely on any third-party software

Lessons Learned

This type of development is very gentle. All tools, APIs, functions are very custom and specific to the customer. When developing such an app it's important to not miss important custom details, while also keeping in mind that even those details have to be scalable.

Finding the balance between specific actions and their scalability into further unknown functions is important, as otherwise there is a possibility of either the app not working as intended or big problems later on, when new requirements might require big changes in the system that could have been avoided.

Optimisation is key - the bigger the system, the more workforce it needs to handle, especially when there are plans of expansion present. It's important to have everything as simple and as fast as possible, so further changes can be added without losing speed, functionally or interactivity.

When optimising a system like this, a simple hack is to make a decision - does the user need to wait for this action to finish, otherwise the system flow will break, or can this action run in the background while the user does something else?

This is important for the user experience as nobody would want to wait several minutes for something to finish when the system can be used while the results are being generated without breaking the system flow.

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