Making Custom Mobile Application Development Affordable for JDE & Other Business Platforms
Custom mobile application development can bring a lot of value to organizations of all sizes. Key benefits include enabling access for off-site employees, streamlining daily tasks, and reducing errors in data entry. However, mobile and web apps can be costly and time-consuming to build, especially for specialized platforms like JDE EnterpriseOne. The time and expense depends largely on what approach is used in development.
This page will help you understand the tools, platforms, and methods that make custom mobile application development cheaper, faster, and better. We will focus on building custom mobile applications for JDE, but many of the best practices apply for apps built for any business software use case.
Why should I build a custom web and/or mobile app?
Custom mobile applications enable organizations of all sizes to make the most of mobile to streamline workflows and daily tasks. By delivering exactly the UX and capabilities that users are looking for, custom developed apps can support user activity across a remarkable variety of scenarios.
An application is only valuable if users find it makes their job easier.
Custom web and mobile application development allows you to create exactly the features your users want/need to streamline the experience of accomplishing their daily tasks. If they have to spend time on workarounds (or if IT has to spend a lot of resources on customization), organizations and end users will quickly revert to old ways of doing things.
This is why spending money on a prebuilt mobile app can be a waste if it doesn’t fit what users need. That being said, off-the-shelf isn’t always off-the-table. Perhaps you can find an existing app that closely matches your use case and user criteria. In that case, prebuilt could be the better option. You would need to evaluate if:
- The price is significantly less than the cost of custom app development (since you are still settling for less than an ideal solution)
- Deployment is easy (e.g., it requires simple configuration rather than extensive customization)
- A good level of service is included with the cost of subscribing to the app software (and the company has been around long enough that you are confident in continued support)
Typically, off-the-shelf apps work best for industries and use cases where workflows don’t vary much from one organization to another.
Why not just change your process to fit an already available mobile solution?
If your existing process is optimized and working well, it shouldn’t have to be changed to implement a mobile solution. The mobile application should be flexible enough to fit your business process. If the process isn’t yet optimized, a mobile solution won’t deliver maximum value. You would want to fix the efficiency of the process first before investing in either custom or out-of-the-box mobile application solutions.
Why Not Buy JDE Mobile Apps Off-the-Shelf?
In the past, custom-built mobile apps were costly and challenging to build for specialized platforms like JDE EnterpriseOne. Because off-the-shelf JDE mobile applications are expensive and don't typically satisfy all of the requirements, creating a custom web or mobile app is usually the only option available to technology leaders in JDE-centric environments.
This is especially true since Oracle chose in 2021 to stop supporting its own JDE mobile apps. Low adoption prompted the decision. Yet lack of adoption for these standardized apps didn’t signal low demand for mobile apps in the JDE space. It highlighted that use cases vary too widely for general-purpose mobile apps to fulfill the need in this market.
Because of the complexity and variety of use cases in the JDE ecosystem, web and mobile applications MUST be built for specific use cases to meet real-world user requirements and deliver value. Users don’t want generic apps that leave them trying to figure out how to apply the available functionality to their daily tasks. To capture real efficiency, they need apps that precisely support their roles and work processes.
The following best practices make it possible to develop custom web and mobile applications with the lowest cost and effort, while ensuring an excellent user experience and performance.
Native Apps vs. Web Apps
The debate about native and web-based applications has gone on for many years. For a long time, it simply wasn’t possible to get the best user experience and app performance without making sacrifices. Web applications could run on any phone because they are simply displayed in a browser. However, they couldn’t make the most of the hardware functions and favorite user features on every device. This meant that a web app would not be as user friendly a native iOS app. Native apps can be built to deliver the optimal front end experience, but a different code base must be created/compiled for each O/S (sometimes with additional code changes for each device). This makes them time-consuming and costly to build and maintain.
What about native apps vs. hybrid apps? Hybrid apps attempt to bridge the gap by wrapping a native app container around a largely web-based application. The app is still downloaded directly onto the user’s phone. With a hybrid approach, there is still not a “single source of code” and developers must know how to write for (and maintain) both web-based and native apps. Today, there is yet another option for delivering the ideal user experience across any device, with a lower lift for developers, shorter development cycles, and a lower cost: progressive web apps.
Using Progressive Web App Development to Build Custom Mobile Applications
It may seem counterintuitive, but today the best and most affordable custom mobile applications are usually those built as progressive web apps (PWAs). This development approach allows you to create a single app that dynamically adjusts to a variety of end user devices, delivering an optimized experience across all platforms. The promise of, “build once, deploy anywhere” is now a reality. An experienced progressive web app development company can create apps that look, feel, and perform like native mobile apps across all devices and platforms.
What Are Progressive Web Applications?
PWAs are applications that are built and run like web apps but look, feel, and act like a native app.
- They can be installed on the operating system of a mobile device and access hardware features. (They can also run on a desktop or laptop.)
- Like a mobile app, they can support push notifications and updates to end user devices.
- PWAs continue to work when the device is offline, pushing any data entered by the user back to the main server once connection is reestablished.
- Users can add the app icon on the screen of their mobile device and access it like they would any other mobile app.
With JDE mobile apps, users can access the app by scanning a QR code or clicking a link (URL). The app automatically pops up on the device. The app can then be installed on the device or the user can be taken to the login screen for their JDE username and password (or other authentication credentials).
How Much Does Progressive Web App Development Cost?
For ACBM customers, the typical cost is $15-30k for a custom-built progressive web app that works across mobile devices. From a development standpoint, being able to create a single codebase to deploy across many operating systems provides substantial savings in time, money, and ongoing maintenance. In contrast, traditional apps can cost $100-200k to build, even before considering upkeep.
Low Code Front End Solutions for Custom Mobile App Development
The front end of a mobile application is what users see, touch, and interact with the app on their device. Any front-end low code/no code development tool capable of creating REST can be used to create the right UI and features for your use case and role.
Low code/no code means it takes little or no development skill or experience to create a functional app. Templates and simple drag-and-drop design elements make it fairly simple to create the desired experience. Of course, additional features, customization, and branding can be coded in if desired.
Why VBCS Is Our Favorite Custom Mobile App Development Toolset
We rely on Oracle’s Visual Builder Cloud Studio for building user-friendly apps from simple data entry to complex enterprise-grade solutions. The VBCS interface allows us to leverage a robust library of pre-packaged options to build a full-featured, professional app for quick deployment. Staying within the Oracle product family streamlines support as well. Because it is still a streamlined front-end development tool, it takes a fraction of the time for development compared to other types of tools.
Leveraging the Orchestrator for Custom JDE Mobile Applications
The secret to building lightweight, inexpensive, yet powerful apps for JDE lies in using orchestrations for virtually every aspect of the app's data transformation and logic functionality. Orchestrator makes it possible to retrieve data from JDE, input data into JDE, and even pull or push data to and from third party platforms and applications. A low-code front end can be automatically integrated into JD Edwards using AIS and the Orchestrator allowing the app to discover and dynamically build forms for any orchestration.
Even complex workflows can be integrated and automated with one or more orchestrations, making it the ideal backend solution for JDE mobile and web applications. Creating useful orchestrations takes hours, not weeks or months, because it relies on prebuilt functionality. Most Orchestrator development is no code, and the rest can be accomplished with low-code Groovy Scripts. Because the back end is all inside JDE, any mobile apps developed using this method automatically inherit the security, architecture, and validation that is built into this mature ERP platform.
Building a custom application requires taking a close look at existing processes, highlighting areas where bottlenecks and risks for user error exist. By gathering user requirements and mapping workflows, the final application not only addresses known challenges but can also help correct areas that had previously been overlooked.
Eliminating manual steps or entire manual processes allows custom web and mobile applications to deliver high value for organizations. The more use cases that are identified for automation, the higher the impact. End users feel like they now have a “digital assistant” that can carry out their most tedious manual tasks in seconds rather than hours.
By saving time and reducing errors, custom applications maximize team productivity and effectiveness. Time, energy, and focus can now be directed toward higher value initiatives including customer support & satisfaction, upskilling, and organizational development. The inclusion of dashboards in mobile applications can improve visibility, productivity, and decision-making in real time.
Custom Mobile App Examples & Use Cases
Popular use cases for mobile apps include work activities that occur in the field. For example, reps can enter sales orders while they are with a customer. This reduces delays and the end of day admin tasks. For purchase requisitions and POs, workers and supervisors can enter requests from the shop floor and management can approve these requests from a mobile device. Below are examples of mobile apps ACBM has built for clients.
Over the Road Inventory Transfer - Case Study
A propane and oil company on the East Coast needed a mobile app for inventory transfer on the go. With a custom mobile app, drivers could meet and exchange parts in the field and immediately send these transfer updates back to JDE. Now, they no longer have to remember to update JDE when they return to the office at the end of the day. Now, inventory is always accurately reflected in JDE in real-time, thereby increasing visibility and reducing availability issues.
Field Requests for Worksite - Case Study
A large construction company that does office build-out work needed a better way for workers in the field to enter requests for equipment, tools, and materials. A complicated form was making it hard to enter data into the correct fields without a lot of scrolling. A streamlined front-end built in sections now allows users to easily access buttons/dropdowns and make selections with a thumb click which has increased accuracy and decreased entry time.
Warehouse Inventory Management - Case Study
A large dairy product manufacturer needed a warehouse solution to scan barcodes and streamline/automate inventory processes. Implementation of an expensive off-the-shelf mobile scanning solution failed and customization would have been cost prohibitive. By using VBCS and Orchestrator, they were able to get 16 different functions in a single app that would work across all their locations with no additional hardware required.
We have the flexibility of leveraging existing JDE logins which allows us to inherit the security already built in JDE. However, since we are building the apps in VBCS, we also have the ability to use the Oracle Identity and Access Management (IAM) or another IAM to authenticate users.
Yes, mobile apps can be created to interact with and augment custom built JDE applications. Whether an app is connected with a standard JDE app or a custom one, the Orchestrator remains the primary way of communicating between the front end of the mobile app and the ERP on the back end.
Yes. With Visual Builder, any CRM, e-commerce, or third-party applications can be integrated with JDE. Visual Builder or Orchestrations can do the behind-the-scenes work of retrieving and updating data between the mobile app interface and the desired third-party end point. Also, because data management is dynamic, our mobile apps automatically show the most updated data in both JDE and the third-party application to users.
With the apps we build for mobile, yes. Our progressive web apps are designed to work well across all devices. They act like native apps on mobile devices and like web applications on desktop and laptop computers. Because the progressive web app can be accessed via the browser, it is readily available on any device with an internet connection. Apps are also available offline. Data entered by a user is automatically sent to the JDE server once a connection is reestablished.
Our typical timeframe for custom mobile app delivery is 1-3 few weeks with pricing between $7-20k. This is substantially faster and more affordable than other JDE mobile app providers that charge $100k+ and require a 6-8 month development timeline. We are able to cut the timeline and price this dramatically by following the best practices of using a streamlined UI for the front end and orchestrations to handle all of the communication with JDE.
Our customers usually request mobile apps to support employees who carry out tasks in the field that require accessing or uploading data into the JDE ERP. This includes things like:
- Sales order entry
- Inventory management
- Work orders and maintenance requests
- Field requests for parts, equipment, tools, and materials
Yes, we can build custom mobile apps that work on a wide variety of handheld devices including scanners. These apps are designed to be easy to use and navigate even on a small screen. They also automatically rotate between portrait and landscape viewing mode depending on the type of device being used. This makes it easy to switch between a scanner, a tablet, a smartphone, or a laptop as-needed.
What to Remember about Custom Application Development Services
Progressive web app development services make custom mobile apps affordable for your business if you choose a provider that follows the best practices above. Whether you already know what you want to build or if you need help figuring out the next step, contact ACBM for a consultation.
Have additional questions or want to discuss a project? Contact us today.