2013 Mobile Awards

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Aconex Mobile for Android [DRAFT]





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Project Overview

Whether you’re building a skyscraper, a bridge, an underwater tunnel, or an oil rig; you need the most current design and construction drawings right there in your hands.. not back in your office. Up until now though, those docs have only been available onsite in hardcopy (aka paper) with all the issues that entails.
Aconex Mobile bridges this gap between where the info is and where it’s actually needed, ensuring you always have access to the most up to date data required to keep your project on track (and to stop it from literally falling over).




Rob Phillpot, GM of Product (Project Sponsor)
Kirsten Mann, Director of User Experience,
Tref Gare, Senior Interaction Designer,
Product Manager, Andrew Barron
Gordon Marx, Product Marketing,
Bhaskara Laxminarayan Quality Assurance Engineer,
Ashok Kumar Quality Assurance Engineer and IndiaNIC, Outsourced Development Team

Project Brief

Aconex mobile gets the right data in the right hands at the right time AND at the right place.

While Aconex was already available on iOS devices, a LARGE proportion of our userbase were using Android devices and needed to access their project data out onsite where it mattered. In some cases Android devices are better suited to the environments our users are working in rather than the iOS equivalents. They're also often cheaper and preferred. As user centric designers, we needed to support our users by getting the data they needed into their hands on their device of choice in as efficient manner possible. As a business we needed to reduce the barriers to usage. A native Android app was a natural choice.

Project Need

Construction and engineering projects live off the timely and accurate flow of data. They operate on enormous scales with teams across multiple geographies and often have very tight profit margins. All this means that the monitoring of progress and risk is very serious business. 80% of the work is done onsite, and 80% of the money is spent onsite - it’s literally where the project lives or dies.
This project followed on the coat tails of our initial iPhone and iPad applications and much of the innovation has been in the refining and optimising of the features in those applications. We’ve simplified the navigation patterns and very importantly removed features which were little used or had been found to be redundant in a mobile context.

Our Android app followed on from the original iOS apps which has allowed us to evolve the offering and learn from those earlier apps. In many cases this has involved simplifying and streamlining. We also deliberately chose to build a native Android app to make the most of the platforms inherent strengths and flexibility.

The app is all about ensuring access to the right files and correspondence at the right time, so the ability to find those items quickly is vital. We went to significant effort to ensure that the search experience is fluid and flexible, reducing the amount of upfront filtering required but also refining search to make it easier and more intuitive.

User Experience

User experience was central to the design of this application and was iteratively and continuously refined throughout the development process. Our users are not using the app for fun nor are they necessarily responsible for the decision to purchase Aconex. You might think this would make things easier for us as theoretically they're obliged to use it by their company (how hard do you have to try) but in reality ease of adoption has always been a prime distinguishing factor for Aconex. The success of Aconex is predicated on the willing and efficient adoption of our system. If our users find the system difficult or cumbersome, then they can easily subvert the success of the project by reverting to email and spreadsheets.

To achieve that ease of use, we started with the invaluable learnings gleaned from the iOS apps being out in the world. We ran alpha and beta test phases with firstly internal staff and then with real users. We listened, learned and refined. We pushed back politely (most of the time) but firmly whenever the development team questioned the importance of one of the myriad of small refinements and clarifications we were requesting. Occasionally there was a bit of kicking and screaming, there may have been the odd threat of removal of chocolate biscuit rights, but generally once we explained the human centric rationale for the change they came onboard quickly (that and the chocolate).

Project Marketing

Our customers have been asking for an Android app, and with it now released Aconex Mobile is available for the majority of mobile devices. The first step was getting our sales and support teams up to speed on the app, so we developed a lot of internal materials and releases to get them excited.

For our users and the market, it’s really a case of education, publicising the app and the benefits it provides in the day to day onsite environment. As such we have made a promotional video, updated the public website and incorporated into a social media campaign. To reach our users directly, we are running a banner advert on our system’s login page, linking through to the video and more information. We are also including features in our client newsletters.

Data model
- Each user is a member of an organization
- Each user is invited to participate in one or more projects for their organization
- Each organization’s project information is private
- Each organization must explicitly send information in order for others to see it
- Users cannot delete project information; a complete record is maintained
As a neutral platform, each organization exists as a separate entity within the system.
Organizations retain complete control over the information they store in Aconex, and can create and control the rights of their users as required.

Access controls
- Aconex is a multi-tenant Software as a Service (SaaS) application
- Access controls on information are enforced
- Roles may be defined to limit access to types of information and application Functionality
- Access control lists may be applied to mail and documents to make them Confidential
- With appropriate authorization, a user within an organization may be granted permission to see confidential information within the organization (e.g. if another employee leaves their organization)
- All documents and activities are searchable, and an audit trail is maintained.
- Because Aconex is a multi-tenant application, logical controls are enforced to ensure users only see the information they are permitted to see. Access is controlled on three levels: by organization, by project and by user.

The category relates to applications themed around project management.
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