App Development Tool Increases Speed, Flexibility

Only a few years ago, professional and enterprise development tasks were mostly relegated to reams of paper tucked away in binders and notebooks. Today, organizations are turning to sophisticated software solutions to introduce a more personal and relevant approach that centers on tracking progress and obtaining actionable feedback.

Fast Mirror, a company that specializes in professional and employee development, is at this center of this trend. In the past, the company—which also operates a consulting firm known as People Talent Solutions—had gone back and forth with a few different development platforms.

 “Each had pros and cons,” notes John Azzara, Fast Mirror’s founder and CEO. In some cases, the development platforms introduced too much complexity or had a lack of critical controls. This, in turn, made it difficult to deliver the functionality and flexibility that Fast Mirror desired. “Clients sometimes request specific features, and there is some customization involved,” he explains.

The company turned to software development solutions provider Alpha Software’s Alpha Anywhere cross-platform development tool to ratchet up speed and flexibility. The platform, which is designed to integrate with existing databases and Web services, enabled the firm to use the software out of the box and build functional grid objects in minutes.

“We are now able to create a component very quickly, often in minutes, and it’s done,” Azzara says. At the same time, “If we want to dig deeper into the code and work with Cascading Style Sheets [CSS] or write our own scripts, we have the flexibility to do so.”

Slashing Development Time by 50 Percent

Azzara estimates that the software platform has slashed overall development time by about 50 percent. In many cases, Fast Mirror simply uses the templates provided by Alpha Software. “If we need to customize something. we can write our own code or use something like JavaScript or XBasic,” he says.

The hybrid capability is extremely valuable when the firm is developing apps that require the use of a Json Parser or APIs. “We can quickly and easily insert the code,” Azzara explains. “We don’t have to write a bunch of loop statements and checkers to make sure everything is presented correctly.”

For example, the company has built a software-as-a-service-based multi-tenant application that allows high potential talent to gain immediate anonymous feedback about how they are performing, including at both internal and client meetings.

Fast Mirror has embedded a bot into the application so that the software works with professionals interactively, and lets them know where they are excelling and where they are falling behind. The software integrates resources and media, such as the Harvard Business Review, TED and YouTube, as well as human resource information systems (HRIS) and other enterprise applications.

Transitioning to the platform was fairly simple, and Fast Mirror’s application developers were able to put the platform to work quickly and without enduring a big learning curve. Azzara says that the next step is to finalize a mobile app through the development platform.

“We are designing the app to provide the same look, feel and functionality, regardless of the device or operating system,” he says. “We want users to have the same type of experience as when they pick up a site like TripAdvisor.”