How does a small, local business take on giant, billion-dollar competitors? By being faster, smarter, and more innovative. If you’re Critical Systems, a 30-person firm based in Atlanta, you do that by using App Cloud to build mobile apps that help you outsmart the competition. According to Bill Van Loan, President and CIO, “Our mobile app has completely transformed our business.”
Critical Systems provides fire alarm and life safety system inspections and testing for hundreds of office buildings around Atlanta and other parts of the country. The company began using Salesforce when then-CEO Bill Van Loan wanted to increase productivity and build competitive advantage by ditching the paper-based systems and hard copy floor plans it used for fire alarm inspections, and replace them with mobile apps that accessed information in the cloud.
The company built and deployed an iPhone and iPad app for fire alarm inspections in just four weeks. Inspectors can view graphical floor plans with fire alarm locations from their mobile devices, and indicate whether alarms are working by swiping their screens. One person can enter inspection data which previously required two, and reports and bills are automatically generated as soon as the work is completed. Salesforce Chatter is part of the app, so employees can ask each other questions while on site, and work together in real time. Van Loan says, “App Cloud reduced our inspection process from weeks to hours. Now, reports are sometimes emailed to clients before the inspector has even left the building.”
The company also used the Salesforce platform to develop an innovative building evacuation app. During an emergency, building personnel and first responders can use it to access building plans, tenant information, and find out about hazardous materials or individuals needing special assistance to get out of the building. Information can be viewed and updated in real time by emergency personnel on and off-site using desktop or mobile devices. In fact, with the Salesforce1 Mobile App, Critical Systems has re-imagined its entire business and utilized VisualForce Pages. Everything from inspections, services calls, and systems inspections to managing webpages and projects, and connecting with manufacturers, is now literally at every employee’s fingertips.
Critical Systems wants to help similar businesses in other metropolitan areas all over the world by making its apps available to them. The company plans to offer apps for managing single- and multi-building inspections — as well as the processes that run its business, like generating proposals or managing contracts — to other fire alarm inspections companies. The app is scalable and customizable for any type of inspection, any type of system or any industry.
Van Loan explains, “Beyond making our business faster and more efficient, we’re using App Cloud reports to help save lives during emergency situations.”