Most mobile developers and testers working in a team setting have lost their test devices at some point. The problem of missing test devices is especially common in large teams that have multiple rooms in their office. Colleagues often borrow each other's test devices and, before you know it, nobody knows where they are. You know you saw it earlier in the day:
And now it’s nowhere to be found:
All you have left to do is send an email to your colleagues or walk around the office yelling, "Guys! Where is my Sony?"
We faced the same issue at Azoft. Being mobile developers, we like finding solutions to all kinds of problems, so we decided to come up with the easiest possible way to solve our missing device issue.
First, we tried to organize the devices by giving them to a responsible employee — a system administrator. Unfortunately, this didn’t bring the expected results. The admin is typically very busy with various other tasks, so when asked the question "Where is my Sony?" (or Samsung, or iPad) he just shrugged.
Then we changed our decision and brought all the devices to the most interested employees: iOS devices – to the iOS developers, Android devices – to the Android developers.
As you can probably guess, it was not very safe because devices disappeared from time to time. The problem repeated itself except with angry emails and disgruntled employees.
Our patience ran out. So we turned to technology and created a document in Google Docs, where the users of the devices had to register. When you take a device, check in, please!
At the beginning, everything was going well. We always knew where each device was. However when we got used to registering, we relaxed and forgot to fill in the document. We borrowed the devices from each other «just to take a look», and then lost track of the devices.
So we concluded that our device tracking method had to change once again. On the one hand, the centralized approach under one-person control didn’t work in our case. We didn’t find a responsible employee to control the devices. On the other hand, the decentralized approach was also ineffective. In a short time people had forgotten to fill in a special file.
We weighed all pros and cons and came up with a third option – the so-called information board.
The new approach was easier than the previous two. We placed cards with device and employee names at the information board. When somebody got a specific device, he/she placed the device card on the card with his/her name.
It took some time to engage the developers, testers and other employees in the process. All the while, our department kept an eye on the device track. Thus, it was hard to "steal" devices during the introduction period.
We found this way of tracking devices very convenient because it didn’t require any additional time or work. All you had to do was place the devices card on your name card. Our colleagues appreciated this tracking system and they even made similar systems for their departments.
After that, we decided to improve our system and change the name cards to cards with employee photos.
The process of device registration became interesting and heartfelt. Employees used the board with willingness.
Now my colleagues and I place emoji magnets on the photos. When somebody looks for a device, it’s a good way to see where a device is and find the current holder. It is also possible to take the device and offer another mobile gadget in return. Finally, everyone can watch the information board and control the appearance of extra devices on the personal cards. If a device is lost, we can find it with the last borrowers help. The result is that now our tracking system for mobile devices works very well.