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Organizations that want to minimize the headaches of building custom mobile apps have a new option with pre-built Capriza apps.
Many businesses have request-and-approval processes that involve purchase orders, invoices, expenses, time off and more. App refactoring vendor Capriza now offers pre-built customizable mobile apps for these types of approval workflows. The set of app templates, called Falcon, provides a simpler, more affordable option for IT shops than building custom apps from scratch, said Vinh Ly, director of project development at RPC Inc., an oil and energy company in Atlanta.
"It ... gets your business users to look at their own processes and realize we have a lot of things that are legacy," he said. "It forces change in a good way. It's an eye-opener for them to see what we can do differently."
RPC used the beta version of Falcon, which launched this week, to provide its more than 4,000 employees with several different approval apps.
RPC's field workers on oil rigs, drill sites and other areas need to submit requests for buying equipment at job sites, for instance. Managers in charge of those approvals often work away from their desks as well, whether they are at meetings, visiting clients or any number of other places. It became inconvenient for workers and their managers to start up their laptops just to access purchase order approval applications. RPC goes through 30 to 60 purchase order requests per week, Ly said.
With the Falcon app for purchase orders, when an employee submits a request, the appropriate manager gets an email notifying him or her of the request plus a push notification on his or her smartphone. Managers can see a list of requests in their app queues, view details about each one and quickly accept, deny or ask for more information.
Additionally, the apps automatically fill out required fields based on the type of approval it is, saving employees and managers time, said Kent Lyon, vice president of finance at RPC.
Kent Lyonvice president of finance, RPC
"I used to approve purchase orders at home with my family watching TV because it would take so long," Lyon said. "It's our best implementation of a new technology. [Now], we knock them out real quick."
Capriza's Falcon apps are essentially templates that include common requirements for approval workflows, then customers can customize them for their own needs. The Capriza apps connect to organizations' back-end systems to pull in the data an app requires. For instance, RPC uses Oracle desktop applications such as PeopleSoft Financial, so it needed mobile apps that could connect to Oracle. IT departments deploy any apps they customize with Falcon to the Capriza WorkSimple app, which users can then download from the Apple App Store or Google Play Store.
"It's actually really easy to build upon," Ly said. "We are on target to deliver two apps per month by year's end, and we'll be increasing that number next year. Getting this out there was a big victory for us."
The company plans to deploy two other apps for its Human Resources staff this week, one for approvals regarding transferring employees to different managers and work sites, and the other for approving salary adjustments.
Where the app refactoring market stands
Capriza developed the Falcon apps when it saw that many of its customers, including RPC, were continuously using its app refactoring software to mobilize their existing approval workflow apps. App refactoring reformats the interfaces of traditional desktop applications to fit mobile devices.
But the market for app refactoring has not yet taken off. In fact, it shrunk in the last year, with vendors StarMobile and Reddo Mobility going out of business this summer.
A few startups remain in the market, including Capriza, PowWow Mobile and hopTo. These vendors may be open to acquisition, but the fact that a deal hasn't happened from a large vendor such as Citrix, IBM or Microsoft might be a sign that the market is trending down, said Jack Gold, principal analyst and founder of J. Gold Associates, a mobile analyst firm in Northborough, Mass.
"This technology is for legacy apps, not newer apps, so it's a niche market," Gold said. "Customers ... want their back-end service provider like SAP, Microsoft or Oracle to make this for them. Additionally, if you're a big company do you trust a small company to be your vendor? Are they going to be around tomorrow?"
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Options for modernizing legacy apps