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Mobile solutions: Planning your mobile strategy

J.Gold Associates researchers indicate that 65%-75% of mobile projects are delayed or unable to meet their deployment goals. The single biggest obstacle to the successful deployment of a mobile solution, especially to handheld and smart phone devices, is trying to do too much. Learn how to best roll out a mobile solution in Part 2 of Planning your mobile strategy.

In Part 1 of Planning your mobile strategy, we looked at the best ways to define and create a mobile strategy for an enterprise. In Part 2, we look at the next step: how best to roll out a mobile solution.

Once an enterprise mobile strategy has been defined, the hard part begins -- getting it into the hands of the end users and making sure it performs as planned. It is certainly important to understand what you plan to implement, but it is even more important that implementation proceed smoothly and on schedule to maximize the benefits envisioned during the planning stages. Our research indicates that 65-75% of mobile projects are delayed or otherwise unable to meet their deployment goals (e.g., on time, on budget, planned functionality, user satisfaction). Indeed, the single biggest obstacle to successful deployment of a mobile solution, especially to handheld and smartphone devices, is trying to do too much. The most successful implementations nearly always limit functionality to the few key elements required to effectively and efficiently perform the task at hand. Mobile apps shouldn't try to implement a wide array of functions to cover all possible future needs with an overly complex user interface. This tendency to over-complicate deployments (left over from a legacy of big screens and lots of resources on a full-size PC or notebook) must be resisted. Remember, deployment of a mobile solution is providing a tool, not a complete workshop, and the best implementations will be those that provide a simple and easy-to-use solution based on workflow that directly meets the needs, and the work style, of the end user.

Many application groups fail to obtain end user feedback and buy-in for an application before deploying the mobile solution. This is a mistake. The best solutions are those that have been defined and tested by the end users, then "tweaked" by the application group for maximum efficiency and ease of use before being rolled out. If your organization does not have the end user organization in the loop during the design phase, your chances of a successful rollout are substantially diminished. Lack of proper testing and overly complicated solutions will lead to considerable user frustrations. And if users are frustrated with the solution, they will find a way around it (i.e., they won't use it, and the investment will be lost).

Another strategic failing of many organizations' mobile solutions is the lack of a realistic support plan. You can expect that during the first several weeks of a new rollout, the number of calls to the help desk will increase by three to five times the normal volume, until users get over the learning curve of the newly deployed technology. Even with effective end user training (another area that many companies fail to address adequately), the call volume will still be substantially increased. Companies often fail in two key ways in supporting these mobile apps: First, they do not have adequate staff to handle the call volumes; second, they often fail to train the support staff adequately on the new technologies, so the support staff has to undergo "on-the-job training" to learn how to help the end users – a not very efficient process that results in excessive problem-resolution times.

Finally, in deploying a mobile solution, make sure that the delivery of the technology, especially to a remotely dispersed workforce, is addressed. How will the application, devices, any needed training, and personalized support be delivered? Without addressing these key issues, the chances of a quick and successful deployment are slim.

About the author: Jack Gold is founder and principal analyst at J. Gold Associates, a Northborough, MA-based analyst firm that focuses on wireless and mobile issues. He can be reached at .

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