The California Department of Developmental Services provides services and support to individuals with developmental disabilities. San Diego Regional Center (SDRC), one of the regional centers in the statewide network, is responsible for software development on the primary business application, called SANDIS, which was originally developed in the mid-1980s to track client information for the organization.
Previously, the Service Coordinators who worked in the field with clients would have to return to their Regional Center and manually enter data about the client into a desktop application. This was time consuming, inefficient, and didn’t give case workers the ability to access real-time client information.
Nancy Lorch is a 35-year veteran at SDRC and has been the lead programmer on the SANDIS project for more than 15 years. She realized that in order to move SANDIS forward and support their remote workers, mobile applications would be the answer. “We could see that mobile was going to change the way out of office workers would work,” said Lorch. “So we started investigating what we could do with mobile on IBM i.”
“The beauty of a relationship with Profound is that they built our mobile apps and I didn’t have to go through a learning curve. They did a great job, were professional, and knew what they were doing, which got our product out quickly.”
Manager, SANDIS, San Diego Regional Center
The project benefactors the service coordinators with a need to take their client information into the field. Each of the coordinators has 65 to 70 clients with developmental disabilities. The coordinators keep track of their varying capabilities and needs, which they can input on location in the field. The primary objective of the mobile app was to allow those coordinators remote access via an SSL connection to the DB2 database at the regional center. Some data is one-way only and some is two way. All data from the database is stored on the database, not on the mobile device. There is no interchange, upload, or interface.
All mobile app development projects are mindful of security issues, which was a top priority from the beginning, Lorch noted. “We are not a direct service agency, but we provide case management and we are handling confidential information. The State Department of Developmental Services makes sure we are not outside compliance regulations.”
Successful application development projects almost always take a multiple phase approach. In this case, the original mobile app was intentionally kept simple and it began with a small pilot group of testers. The functional priorities included the capability to pull up a list of clients with their basic information and provide the capability to record notes about each client. It helped that Lorch formerly worked in the case management area and was familiar with the type of information case workers need to function efficiently. The pilot group was equipped with Apple iPads provided by the regional center and the participants had access to real data.
The accordion panel and mobile app options in the SANDIS mobile app .
In building the mobile app, the green-screen interface was rebuilt from scratch, although the back-end database and some of the existing RPG logic for the green-screen apps was reused. Lorch and her team used Profound UI and Profound Mobile to complete this project. Profound Mobile enables developers to rapidly design and deploy mobile applications, even if they aren’t experts at mobile development. Businesses can deploy their IBM i applications in any mobile device or tablet, and add native capabilities to applications on iPhone, iPad and Android devices. Profound Mobile uses the Profound UI Visual Designer and widgets designed for mobile development to rapidly create and deploy business applications with ready-to-use capabilities that include accordion panels, camera and image upload to the application database, voice to text, maps, notes, signature pad, and more.
The SANDIS team also worked hand-in-hand with the Profound Logic Services team to design and deploy the application, to supplement her small development and rely on Profound’s expertise with mobile development.
Lorch and her team have now rolled out the mobile application to all 21 of California’s Regional Centers, with positive results. In addition to mobile applications, Lorch worked with Profound Logic to create the Web app used on premise at the Regional Centers. There is real-time integration with the mobile and web apps, which has significantly improved end-user efficiency and reduced human error.
The Regional Centers have issued both Android and iPads tablets their service coordinators. Gradual enhancements to the application can be rolled out immediately, and the end users have also assisted with the project.
“Feedback from the service coordinators–the end users–is leading to the enhancement,” said Lorch.
Sample client information in the SANDIS app
The services Lorch and her team received from Profound Logic are a big reason why her team was able to quickly and efficiently roll out the mobile application project. “That’s part of the beauty of the relationship with Profound. They build these apps and I don’t have to go through a learning curve. They do a great job. They are professional, know what they are doing, and they can get the product out quickly.”