Wednesday, September 08, 2010

Compliance Functions for Mobile Applications

In an article I published on The Enterprise Mobility Foundation earlier this week, I spoke of the challenges involved with managing a mobile workforce.  Here is an excerpt: 

"You are tasked with managing a team you cannot see. You are accountable for the safety of your employees in locations you have never been. Your success is based upon your team’s ability to overcome all kinds of technical challenges in remote and distant job sites. You are responsible for your team following company standards, processes and industry best practices without any supervision. You must expertly balance their schedules, qualifications and workloads to maximize customer satisfaction and profitability from a distance."

The management challenges listed above are magnified by distance, remote locations and the lack of management visibility.  Often these challenges are not just about managing.  They can also be about safety, liability, legality, quality and customer SLAs (service level agreements).

A few months back, Gil Bouhnick with Clicksoftware, told me about a mobile application he worked on that incorporated Union rules into a mobile application.  It included a complete set of rules, above and beyond, simple work order management.  This application would look at the tasks required of the service technician and review a database of Union rules to ensure the service technician was not doing anything counter to those rules.  This conversation got me thinking.

Perhaps mobile applications could have an application layer for the following:

  • Safety compliance
  • EPA compliance
  • FDA compliance
  • OSHA (occupational safety and health administration) compliance
  • Legal compliance
  • Union compliance
  • Quality standards compliance
  • Best Practices compliance
  • Corporate standards compliance
  • Sorbanes-Oxley Act compliance
  • SEC compliance
  • Customer Service Level agreement compliance
Of course this list could go on forever, but the point is mobile applications can integrate a "compliance" application layer that could associate different compliance issues with each piece of data and field.  Specific jobs could activate specific compliance rules.  Certain tasks and projects could flag specific safety procedures.  This "compliance" application layer could improve the documentation and implementation of the appropriate behavior in remote workers which in turn makes it easier to management them.

What are your thoughts?  Would this be a useful mobile application layer, or simply a pain for the mobile worker?

Kevin Benedict, SAP Mentor, SAP Top Contributor, Mobile and M2M Industry Analyst
Phone +1 208-991-4410
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.