Tuesday, September 26, 2006

MobileDataforce and Large International Deployments

MobileDataforce has been involved in several good sized international deployments of mobile handheld computer solutions lately. These kind of implementations need careful management and planning. Here are a few points to consider and plan for:
  1. First of all the customer must have dedicated staff assigned to the roll-out. It can't be done ad hoc.
  2. If at all possible have the deployment teams onsite at the pilot location.
  3. Pilot and beta programs need documented issue reporting paths. Everyone involved must know how to report issues, and how they are to get resolved.
  4. Don't roll-out to large numbers in the first round. Test...roll-out...test...roll-out...there is a nice pattern here. Minimize the impact of inevitable issues in the early stages.
  5. Use PointSync Manager to deploy updates to the field. PointSync can publish updates to the end user transparently. This reduces end user errors and self-inflicted injuries.
  6. Often it is helpful to load the mobile application onto each handheld device before the initial roll-out. Minimize the variables that can go wrong in the field. Keep it simple for the new users. We often load our mobile applications to an SD or Mini SD card and then simply insert the card into each new device and load.
  7. Keep the user interface on the mobile application as close to the paper process as possible to minimize the training time required. If there is a certain process flow that your field users are familiar and comfortable with, then keep your mobile application as close to it as is reasonable.
  8. Mandate the use of a mobile application, don't give the field user the option of paper. Learning takes time and is often annoying - make sure the end user knows there is no going back to paper...so start learning it.