Project acronym: SFA Android
Project name: SFA Android
Project duration: Implementation in progress
Short description: SFA Android is an Android version of our earlier SFA (Sales Force Automation) project, which is used by field sales representatives. These earlier projects were designed for PDA devices. The new Android version of the same application is meant to expand the user base to include users of Android devices.
Project aims/goals: TIAC already has an established client base for the SFA PDA application. Since Android devices have in recent years become ubiquitous, there is an opportunity to reach a wider circle of potential clients, as well as to utilize the advantages the new platform offers to extend the functionality of the application. The Android app offers the same basic feature set as its PDA counterpart: create and modify orders and returns, search through partner and product databases, view various reports etc. These are, however, now presented in a more user-friendly manner, utilizing larger device displays, pretty graphics, gestures and other Android features. Planned new features also include: displaying partner locations on the map and getting directions to them, maintaining a list of contacts (partners and fellow employees) and direct communication with them (phone, SMS), real-time notifications etc.
Key words: SFA, Android.
Technology aspect: SFA Android is an Android application which can be installed on any Android device. It represents the client part and, in order for it to be functional, it relies on the server side to provide all the needed data.
The server side of the SFA application has been built using the Microsoft .NET framework. It consists of a central database (Microsoft SQL Server), which stores all data (the common data and unified data from all client devices, PDA and Android alike). It also provides a set of SOAP services through which client devices can exchange data with the server. Most of the features required for the server side are automated or implemented through services, but there also exists a web application for those features which require direct access to the server side data and configuration in a user-friendly manner.
The server side of the SFA application can also be connected with an ERP system to provide a complete solution for the trading aspect of a company’s business. This requires custom procedures designed to synchronize data between the ERP system and the SFA server. As part of the SFA project, TIAC has already built an implementation of the synchronization with one large ERP system.
The Android app is built in Java. It uses a SQLite database to store the part of data which is needed for a salesman who uses the device in their everyday work. This data is synchronized with the server side through SOAP services.
Significant results: The initial version of the application, which provides all basic functionality, has been finished in November 2014 and first clients are expected to start using it in the following months. The app will continue to evolve from the 1.0 version based on customer feedback in order to adjust it to their specific requirements.