Mobile Illumination: Building Software To Enhance And Improve Existing Business Processes

Mobile Illumination provides unparalleled outdoor lighting design and installation services for commercial properties, municipalities, and residences throughout Southern California. The company’s designers, engineers, and installation crews deliver extraordinary illuminated experiences for clients that include entertainment venues like the Hollywood Bowl, hotel resorts like the Four Seasons, and retail centers like the Third Street Promenade in Santa Monica.

The Challenge

With an impeccable reputation for quality, Mobile Illumination experienced rapid growth. However, while the warehouse and inventory expanded, staffing increased, and the project list grew, the technology infrastructure stayed stagnant. Mobile Illumination soon found themselves in a common scenario many growing businesses experience—they have vast knowledge in their industry and profession but not in technology.

As a result, and out of necessity, their staff continued managing inventory and projects “the way it has always been done,” which is often through manual data entry and spreadsheets.

This approach works at first, but eventually the “old way” hinders performance, makes it difficult to track inventory, slows projects down, and negatively affects profits. Without effective inventory tracking systems, Mobile Illumination was also losing inventory and unable to evaluate how much the loss cost the company.

When Mobile Illumination realized they needed a better system for managing processes in their warehouse, they hired a development company that was ultimately, unable to fulfill the contract. The developer reached out to Zeek Interactive to provide consulting and eventually asked Zeek to take over the project.

Mobile Illumination wanted a partner to conceptualize, design, and engineer software that would streamline processes, improve service, and increase profits, which is exactly what they found with Zeek Interactive.

To achieve these goals and create a solution to support future growth, Zeek delivered a robust mobile iPhone app powered by a lightweight back-end website that is used to:

  • Manage product inventory
  • Create purchase orders
  • Handle jobs and inventory reservations
  • Track inventory usage
  • Improve warehouse efficiencies
  • Control inventory loss
  • Generate client reports

The Approach

When it comes to building custom software solutions, extensive discovery and collaboration is needed between the client and the technology provider to facilitate a deep understanding of the business and its existing internal operations systems. This critical understanding drives technical platform decisions and ensures the software being engineered parallels the company’s natural workflow.

While extensive planning went into the iPhone app and custom website content management system design and functionality, Zeek used an organic, agile, collaborative process to create the inventory and job management solution.

Our team worked closely with the Mobile Illumination team to:

  • Design and build the app software and content management system in stages
  • Provide MVPs (minimum viable products) along the way for and testing
  • Gather feedback throughout the process rather than at the end
  • Adjust and improve the software based on actual usage of the app and back-end website

With a minimalist approach, the app design creates a simple, easy to use interface that doesn’t get in the way of the work that needs to be done.

The Project Highlights

Many agencies select one technology platform to be their specialty and that is all they do. Unfortunately, when an agency focuses on one platform, every solution imagined must be created within the confines of that single platform. At Zeek Interactive, we use a different approach. From iPhone and Android apps, to e-commerce stores and enterprise software, to robust solutions for digital publishers, we pride ourselves on delivering the best solutions using the right technology for the client.

The Mobile Illumination iPhone app and back-end website content management system are built using Laravel and hosted at Liquid Web. This project brought unique and interesting challenges to our development team that included:

  • Inventory Management: Before, jobs and inventory were managed on paper and in excel spreadsheets and inventory loss was unmanageable. Now, within the app, Mobile Illumination employees can tackle everything to do with inventory management, including pulling inventory, getting it onto trucks, tracking its delivery to job sites, documenting what was used, checking inventory in after use, returning inventory to the warehouse, and documenting loss. In the back-end website, employees can also see what inventory was used on each job, create purchase orders for new inventory, and generate reports.
  • QR Code Scanner: The iPhone app includes a built-in QR code scanner that leverages the native iPhone camera. Using the app and the QR code scanner, employees can scan an item in the warehouse, just like employees do at The Home Depot, to access inventory information, change its status for a job, and request its transfer to a different location such as a job staging area.
  • Advanced Search: The iPhone app and back-end website include an Algolia integration for advanced search functionality. This allows Mobile Illumination employees to quickly search jobs and inventory by product name, client name, and product SKU.
  • Job Management: From scope of work details and job instructions to inventory reservations and detailed reporting, employees are now able to easily manage clients and related jobs and create one central source of truth. Employees in the warehouse are able to access important job details through the iPhone app and the office staff can manage the client details through the easy-to-use back-end website.

The Project Impact

Before working with Zeek, Mobile Illumination employees were managing projects and inventory on paper and in spreadsheets. With no way to automatically track inventory, evaluate loss, easily manage projects, or regulate processes, this approach was failing the rapidly growing company.

Rather than force the company to adjust their processes to fit the software, Zeek Interactive’s unique development approach and collaboration with Mobile Illumination ensured the software was tailored to mimic the businesses existing processes.

The iPhone app and integrated back-end website now provide Mobile Illumination a scalable solution that gives employees everything they need right at their fingertips to manage an entire job and the inventory required from start to finish. It has also helped the company create more efficiencies when prepping and installing jobs, reduce inventory loss and errors, increase productivity, and save money.

From large-scale digital publishing and media sites to high-traffic eCommerce, membership, and online course sites, to complex integrations with smartphone apps, the team at Zeek Interactive has done it all. When combined with our experience in platform technologies such as WordPress, Drupal, and Laravel, we can help you discover, design, and engineer the right solution for your unique needs.