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Doing Development Right

mobedia Mobile Technical Team Lead James Shirazian took ownership of a project for client Alphega Pharmacy, helping create and deliver a key Business Development app for its group members.
James tells us why BDP – or the ‘Business Development Programme’ – is a project close to his heart… 

Q: How did the BDP app come about?

James:  We’ve worked successfully with Alphega for 8 years now. They’re a global leader in pharmacy-retail, with over 6,500 member pharmacies across 9 countries.

Over the years, we’ve helped Alphega streamline and digitise a number of their processes into a single hub, all held within a tablet (we casually call the whole project: ‘Tablet App!’), helping them increase productivity, profitability, and efficiency.

You can read more about our various successful projects with Alphega – and the great results we’ve helped them achieve – by reading our dedicated case study.

The next step for Alphega, following the successful delivery of the Tablet App, was to develop the BDP – a plug-and-play app to sit within the tablet.

Q. What is the overall purpose of the BDP app? 

James:  Its purpose is to help individual pharmacies develop and align performance, with the assistance of a skilled Business Mentor.

Users select standards from a defined group matrix, and then upload evidence to show they’ve achieved that particular standard, progressing through levels of Bronze, Silver, and Gold as they successfully evidence certain amounts of criteria.

Alphega is a huge group which is constantly growing, so it’s important for them to upskill and align individual pharmacy members, across a multi-national landscape, so they meet the standards of quality the brand is known for across the board. The Tablet App had previously helped the group to align and optimise in-house processes and procedures; BDP can almost be seen as the ‘sequel’ – aligning service standards across the group.

Q: Tell us about your involvement with BDP.

James:  As mobedia’s Mobile Technical Team Lead, I’d been heavily involved in the development of the Tablet App. So I already had a great relationship with the client, and had been a big part of delivering a project they were really happy with.

Moving onto BDP, there were some key staff changes within Alphega, so we wanted to keep things as stable as possible from mobedia’s end. We aimed to work in harmony with new staff assigned to the BDP project, bringing past knowledge and expertise to the table to help them transition.

I oversaw the development of the entire project from start to finish, liaising with key stakeholders both at Alphega, and also within the mobedia team – from screen design, to UI testing, to creating help videos and tutorials with our script writer!

It sort of became close to my heart; having been involved in the amazing success of the Tablet App, it became a personal challenge for me to follow it up.

Q: Was it a fun project for you? 

James:  From a skills perspective, it was a refreshing challenge. To build the app the way I wanted it, I had to learn a new set of PHP skills, and learn them fast!

However – and this is one of the amazing things about working at mobedia – our Technical Director Phil Cox is really keen on up-skilling all the members of the team, and he shared with me a set of guide templates that allowed me to learn the PHP I needed simply, accurately and quickly. So I was very swiftly in a position to confidently build this app to meet high client standards.

That’s one of the reasons that mobedia provide such a great service – we’re a strong team, all with very specific, expert-level skill sets – and we’re always sharing techniques and best practice with each other. So, almost unconsciously, we all up-skill, sometimes through osmosis, which reinforces the strength of our team, and expands our delivery capabilities dramatically.

Q: Would you say you went the extra mile on this project?

James:  Well, I suppose you could say that we don’t just ‘deliver and run’. It would have been easy for me to build an app with all the features Alphega required, test it, perfect it, deliver it, and then move on. But I wanted to give it more care.

Knowing the app was to be housed on a particular tablet, and that it had the potential to be used very heavily throughout the working day, I wanted to understand more about the practical side of the project. I spent a lot of time on-site at local pharmacies, looking at how the tablet would be used, and what other apps the BDP would be used in conjunction with.

From being on-site, I also learned that the tablets can’t be charged overnight, so have to be docked and used very actively through the day, With this in mind, I changed my development approach slightly, and focused on creating an app that drained as little battery power as possible.

This involved quite an in-depth review of the app’s functionality, looking at how I could streamline processes to keep them sleek – but also keep them low-maintenance.

Our Senior Designer Paul Taylor helped me a lot with this. He created an interface design with neat, simple infographics, which guided and directed the user and let them know their progress without the need for additional media or instruction – keeping CPU usage down, and prolonging the tablet’s battery life.

It’s no use designing an app that looks great, feels great, but kills the battery through required use. This is part of the ‘realistic’ delivery I wanted to work towards. And still, now, I remain Alphega’s Technical Support on the Tablet App and on BDP.

Q: Is the client happy with the overall delivery, then? 

James:  Oh yes, definitely. The client is extremely happy with the way it’s working, and it’s created quite a bit of ‘buzz’ amongst users!

We’re also getting feedback from users on future ideas and projects we could work on in partnership with Alphega; that’s a great sign that we’re not only meeting client expectations, but helping excite their staff to drive continuous improvement and progress!

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