Friday, September 17, 2010

27 Questions to Ask a Company Preparing an Enterprise Mobility Strategy

There are enterprise mobile application vendors like Clicksoftware that focus on supporting the needs of SAP customers that have mobile workers in rugged outdoor environments, and there are companies like Smartsoft Mobile Solutions that focus on supporting the needs of large and global retailers that use SAP and want customer facing mobile solutions to sell more products.  These environments can be very different from each other.  How do you know where to start when developing an enterprise mobility strategy?

If you are an enterprise mobile applications vendor, a member of an IT organization or a systems integrator that is working with a client to help them develop an enterprise mobility strategy, then it would be useful to have a few questions to get the discussions started.  The following list of 27 questions is a good start, but I believe it is still an incomplete list.  I am sure I have missed important questions, so please click on the "comments" icon below and add to the list.
  1. What business processes are you considering mobilizing?
  2. What ERPs or business applications are involved?
  3. What are your preferred integration strategies?
  4. What business units or departments are involved?  Is this a corporate project or departmental?
  5. What are your priorities for mobilizing business processes? Which ones first, second, third?
  6. How many people will be using these mobile applications?
  7. What are the roles and responsibilities of the mobile users?
  8. What are their working environments?  Hot, cold, wet, dusty, underground, on a power pole?
  9. Will they always have internet connectivity or do they need offline support as well?
  10. What are the expected ROIs?
  11. What is the desired timeline?
  12. Do you have business process diagrams developed for these solutions? If so, can we review prior to our meeting?
  13. What is your one to three year roadmap for enterprise mobility?
  14. Do you have existing mobile enterprise solutions? If so, please describe.
  15. What are your mobile device or smartphone preferences?
  16. Do you need an SDK (software development kit) to customize and/or edit your own mobile applications?
  17. Do you want to develop your own mobile application in-house, buy off-the-shelf or contract with a third party for a custom mobile application?
  18. If you want to develop in-house, are your stakeholders patient enough to wait for the final product? What are the costs to the business of not delivering on time?
  19. If you develop in-house, who will support new versions of the mobile operating systems and new mobile devices?
  20. Which business unit will budget to pay for upgrades to mobile operating systems and mobile devices? They change every few months? Do you really have developers that will be available for all of these updates and upgrades?
  21. How will you support it? What is the plan for supporting mobile applications and mobile devices?
  22. What countries will be using it?
  23. What data plans does the company want to use in each country?
  24. How will you manage the data plans?
  25. What is the policy for replacing missing or damaged mobile devices?
  26. Which business unit will pay for lost devices and data plans?
  27. What is the process for approving mobile access to ERPs and business processes?
There are many more questions that will be asked and answered once there is a formal strategy and project, but this high level list is intended to get an IT organization thinking about some of the bigger issues and priorities before drilling down into specific mobile application project requirements.

Let me know if you would like me to help your organization think through these issues.  I have a bit of experience in this area.

Kevin Benedict, SAP Mentor, SAP Top Contributor, Mobile and M2M Industry Analyst
Phone +1 208-991-4410
Follow me on Twitter @krbenedict
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Full Disclosure: I am an independent mobility consultant, mobility analyst, writer and Web 2.0 marketing professional. I work with and have worked with many of the companies mentioned in my articles.