TAP09_apps_feat_DSC5650-580-75Like anything done well, a structured approach with research and analysis will pay off – as a colleague once said “pain me now or pain me later”. I’d sooner succeed than deal with the pain of failure especially after a lot of hard work.

Mobility has several definitions that come to mind such as taking a workforce mobile; enabling an application with a mobile front end or a purpose built mobile application like Foursquare. In either case my approach can be applied to any of the definitions.

To begin, conduct research regarding competitors, what have they done? Learned from doing? Which consultants and venders have they worked with? What can I reuse to reduce timelines and costs? Once that step is done and you still feel there is merit in further work, a work analysis is required to gain firsthand insight and knowledge regarding the intended user committee. This is a focus group meeting that will lead off into the weeds; this is a structured analysis that uses work modeling technical such as “contextual goal based tasks analysis”. Here you’re following the lives of the workers to understand how they work, where efficiency loss is experienced, where gains can be made through mobility. For example, does your mobile staff not have access to customer databases while on the road and have to return to the office to access them incurring travel expenses and lost face time with clients?

The specific steps are as follows:

  • Initiate a formal project with executive sponsorship and visibility. Follow PMI methodology and save yourself a lot of wasted time. Grassroots hero efforts are noble but in the case of mobility in a large enterprise you should establish a formal project. Read more here http://www.sharepointreviews.com/sharepoint-reviews-articles/sharepoint-social/1805-7-mobile-sharepoint-considerations
  • Determine who your mobile community is. Select people from this community (Do not use surrogates that think they understand the community – you want firsthand knowledge).
  • Assign staff to shadow the workers as best makes sense mapping out there day, tasks and activities they carry out, where gaps are in applications and access that impact productivity. Quantify the productivity loss (pains) and additional costs.
  • Based on the productivity loss and pains identify information and applications that would fill those gaps and address the pain. Note you might have applications available in the office that address the productivity loss and pains or you might not. In the either case these are gaps you identify in the IT application portfolio that need to be addressed if there is a business case for it.
  • Once the gaps are agreed to and documented assess which IT investments you can leverage and which need to be assembled. Assemble an architecture for the gaps, resource, hardware and software pricing and don’t forget integration services. Also, mobility apps and infrastructure are different skills and risks than typical IT, establish a team and competency or partner accordingly.

Finally, don’t forget about the impact to cultural, management style and office design. When you mobilize staff, there are changes to the way managers manage and the office design changes as well – at least they should. Have your own ideas to share? Contact me at roncharity@gmail.com , I’d like to hear from you.