Monday, January 09, 2006

Implementing Mobile Projects

Now that you have decided to mobilize one or more business processes, how do you choose a system integrator or consultant that can implement it? There are a few basic details that all consultants who develop and implement mobile solutions should ask you. If they don't ask you these questions, you may want to look for a more experience implementation team.

Here are some sample questions:
  • What handheld hardware will you be using(make and model)?
  • What add-on accessories will you be using (GPS, RFID, Digital Imager, Barcode, etc)?
  • Where and how will the user be synchronizing their handheld(at home, office, shop, WiFi, GPRS, cradle, bluetooth, Satellite)?
  • What operating system does your handheld computer have (Win CE.Net, Pocket PC, Palm)?
  • Do the users have working conditions that will impact our solution design (users wear gloves and need big touch screen buttons)?
  • What business process will be mobilized (work order, invoice, time sheet, project status, etc.)?
  • What database do we need to connect to? How do we access it? Can you provide a data model?
  • Do you need mobile printing?
  • Do you need formatted reports? Will they be printed in the field, or in the office?
  • Do you need internet access to this data? If so, who will design the website?
  • Are you going to conduct a "proof-of-concept" first? If so, how many users? What is included in the POC. How do we measure success?
  • Concerning roll-outs - how are we going to roll out this solution to your billion mobile users? How many at a time?
  • How are you going to train the users?
  • When are you going to have the handheld computers delivered?
  • Who will install the software and document how to use them in the field?

These are a few of the questions that an experienced team of consultants and systems integrators will ask you before they provide you with a quote. If a consultant does not ask these questions upfront, it does not mean they are bad, just inexperienced and will likely not meet their timelines and cost projections.