Case study: Southalls Safety Cloud
Health and safety audit app

Southalls Safety Cloud is a cross-platform mobile app rebuild. The app allows health and safety audits to be performed from anywhere via mobile devices, even when no Internet connection is available. When back online, forms can be synced to the cloud and accessed via the existing web portal.

The project had an existing back-end API for us to integrate with, where we worked closely with the developers to develop its capabilities to support the new app.

After a successful launch of Safety Cloud, our client was acquired by Citation.

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Our favourite features in the Safety Cloud mobile app


Dynamic audit forms

  • Forms are downloaded from the web portal, to be filled out in-app
  • Dynamic forms allow forms to be rapidly created/updated and deployed within seconds
  • Advanced features, such as action triggers and evidence file upload
  • Forms can be saved on-device to come back to later, before submission

Audit actions

  • Allow required actions to be recorded against an audit, such as to rectify a failure
  • Automatic action triggers based on answers to questions
  • Images/photos can be uploaded against an action
  • Sync actions when filling out a new audit to check they have been undertaken

Offline support

  • Allow audits to be undertaken from the field, without an Internet connection
  • Sync forms to and from the cloud when back online
  • Bulk download forms before going offline
  • Support for spotty connections, with automatic submission retrying to ensure successful submission

Behind-the-scenes and other top features

Not all heroes wear capes. These behind-the-scenes features don't have screenshots, but form an important part of the project.

  • User permissions and access control support
  • LDAP/Active Directory authentication integration
  • Integration with existing API
  • iPad/tablet support - tests can be carried out on larger screens remotely

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– Tom Baverstock, Software Director, Southalls

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Project outline: building the new app

Our client had a pre-existing web portal for performing health and safety audits, along with supporting mobile apps to allow remote working. The portal offered a high degree of customisation, with its form builder functionality - allowing new types of audits to be added to the platform rapidly. The forms themselves offered more complex form elements, such as action triggers and file uploads.

After having been developed by an inexperienced team, the mobile apps had multiple issues causing them to not be fit for purpose. The apps were non-native, leading to performance and UI/UX issues. There were many bugs with the apps that were becoming very costly to rectify. The issues with the apps were preventing onboarding and retaining clients, as well as affecting a potential acquisition of the company.

The main issues with the old apps were:

  • Bugs and errors were present - causing a bad experience for clients, and potentially even leading to incorrect audits.
  • One app was only available on Android - meaning a completely new development effort would be required for a separate Android app.
  • Two separate apps had to be used - to be able to access all functionality, causing more friction in the auditing process.
  • The software developers were often unavailable - no updates to the software could be performed without them, meaning that critical issues go unaddressed and no new functionality could be developed.
  • UI/UX issues gave a bad experience - the goal of the software was to make performing audits easier, but the apps were creating more problems.
  • No offline support - users needed an Internet connection to be able to perform audits, which is not always possible.

Our solution

We suggested that instead of performing a separate new Android build for one of the apps, we develop a cross-platform Native app instead. This meant that the benefits of the new app would be felt on both iOS and Android. The new app could bring together all functionality into a single app, making carrying out audits easier.

As it was crucial to get the design of the new app spot-on, we created a full high-fidelity design prototype. This allowed us to quickly gather feedback from all involved and iterate on the design until it was right. The design prototype process can save significantly on costs, as modifying a design is much quicker than iterating on software.

The pre-existing web portal API did not have full support for a new mobile app, especially concerning an offline mode - which it wasn't originally designed to support. We worked closely with the development team to build out the required functionality.

Delivering the new software

The new Safety Cloud app was successfully rolled out along with the new web portal, receiving very positive feedback. Our client's customers now have an all-in-one app to perform their health and safety audits. With a much improved UI and UX, as well as a bug-free experience, the new app is a huge improvement. Support for offline forms is a big selling point for the new app.

After a successful launch of Safety Cloud, our client was acquired by Citation.

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