Montreal firm develops BlackBerry-based service management apps

A Montreal-based tech firm today released two mobile phone applications that enables users to remotely receive, manage and approve work orders remotely from their BlackBerry devices.

Createch Group, a Bell Canada company, said the tools provide mobile capabilities to IBM’s Maximo/Tivoli asset and service management applications which are typically accessible via user desktops.

“Basically, these tools will allow field workers and managers to access work order data remotely and approve projects on the go without having to log onto their desktop machines,” according to Wayne Gahagan, sales consultant for the Createch Group.

The available applications are:

BlackBerry Work Manager for Maximo – A work order lifecycle tool for field technicians and workers which enable users to receive work order information on the BlackBerry handhelds. The application also allows users to indicate assignment status and upload this updated information to the Maximo database.

BlackBerry Approver for Maximo – An application that allows mobile users to view and respond to Maximo generated approval requests such as purchase requisitions and work orders. The application provides al details pertinent to the approval request, allowing users to forgo logging onto Maximo in order to make an informed approval decision.

Over the next few month, Createch will be releasing more BlackBerry based application designed to provide Maximo mobile capability, said Mike Popovic, senior vice-president of the Montreal-based IT firm.

“Our BlackBerry applications for Maximo offer companies a competitive with minimal infrastructure investment,” he said.

For example, the applications help companies reduce cost by taking advantage of the existing infrastructure and inherent security features of the BlackBerry platform, Popovic said.

Organizations that already have the Maximo database deployed and have personnel using BlackBerry smartphones will also require minimal training expenses, he added.

Other companies are expected to offer a whole new range of mobile business capabilities for BlackBerry users whose businesses run IBM Corp.’s Lotus productivity and collaboration suite.

The main benefit of Createch’s applications is that they help get rid of operational roadblocks, according to Gahagan.

“Typically, mobile technicians or managers in the field would receive on their cell phones vital queries about on going projects. In order to get more information about the project and to execute an order they would need to access the company database through a computer,” Gahagan explained.

“By allowing remote workers full project visibility and the power to execute orders on the fly, we’re able to relieve project bottlenecks,” he said.

St. Barnabas Healthcare System in New Jersey recently moved from an IBM Maximo Mobile system using HP’s Ipaq handheld devices to Createch’s BlackBerry-based Work Manager for Maximo.

Pete Mercuri, senior system administrator for the healthcare system that runs six hospitals and 11 nursing homes, says the employees using BlackBerry phones with the Createch’s application are very happy with the change.

“Our previous system provided a lot of functionality but it had a lot of bugs and was cumbersome,” said Mercuri.

For example, users needed to move through numerous screens in order to get to the information they needed, the administrator said.

“By contrast, Createch customized Maximo on the BlackBerry so that non-technically inclined users can get much of the assignment related info on an e-mail,” Mercuri said.

The older system also ran on a WiFi network which proved to be much slower and less stable than the cellular network-based Createch application said Mercuri. “We experiences some delays in the Maximo Mobile, but the with the BlackBerry’s users received information almost instantly.”

Currently, St. Barnabas has 30 employees using Work Manager for Maximo, but the organization intends to roll out the application to a total of 400 users, Mercuri said.

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