When working in the office, it's a straightforward process to access information across the SharePoint portal. Like any other Web portal or workspace, this Information-oriented interface provides menus, links, and other rich navigation tools that provide access to all the portal’s information. Nowadays, with the proliferation of smart phones, it's only natural that there is an increasing need for salespeople, support personnel, and other staff in the field to quickly and easily access their organization’s SharePoint portal.

However, when travelling, screen size is limited, the keyboard is less convenient, and time is short.  More to the point, only specific types of information are required to perform very specific actions related to the common out-of-the-office activities. So do they really need their entire SharePoint portal squeezed into a smart phone to be more productive?

Really, it makes sense then to see only the information that drives the out-of-the-office activities.   In other words, instead of an Information-oriented interface, a task-oriented interface that delivers the precise “on the road” information and actions. Simply put, this means fewer menus, fewer links, and fewer information—and an experience that is highly relevant to the role and situation.

However, it's not enough just to render SharePoint into some nice-looking mobile view. Without making the mobile view much more focused and smart, it will be a frustrating and time-consuming process for users. Most importantly, it will certainly not make mobile users more productive with SharePoint. This is because SharePoint list forms are not context sensitive, and while this is not something related specifically to mobile (this issue exists also in SharePoint Web interface—see our Forms Bundle for some answers to that, the problem is acute accessing SharePoint from a smart phone.

What is required is an intelligent SharePoint mobile interface that is both task-oriented and context-sensitive: smart forms integrated with custom actions at the menu level on a smart phone platform.  Smart forms turn the SharePoint list forms into powerful, context-sensitive forms by adding field grouping as well as dynamic field-level permissions, default values, and field constraints. Custom actions mean custom menus easily replace the generic ones with context-sensitive menus tailored to the role and situation.  Finally, a mobile extension layer exposes the smart forms and the custom actions to mobile users and supports various mobile clients. Secondarily, this layer allows the creation of custom mobile pages—not just a “thin version” of the SharePoint Web pages, but custom pages for which precise content is defined through with reusable mobile page parts (like Web parts, but for mobile pages).

We have integrated these three layers, delivering a custom-tailored, focused mobile interface that dramatically reduces the time needed for users to perform the required activities while on the road. So, instead of having your mobile work force collaborate by trying to scroll through a mobile rendering of the typical SharePoint screen, that mobile interface can provide exactly what each user needs, when they need it.  Try it—get your free Mobile Extensions here.