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What Questions Do You Ask the Enterprise Before Developing a Mobile Strategy?

A few weeks ago I discussed the challenges of consulting with large enterprises and advising them on issues related to enterprise mobility.  I shared that it is helpful to send questions in advance so you know what kind of environment you are walking into.  It also helps your client be better prepared for your meeting.  Here is the list I put together in advance of one of my recent visits. 
  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 like?
  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?
Syclo, a co-innovation partner of SAP in the mobility space, speaks of supporting any data source, any network, any device, any industry, any process and anywhere in the world.  Doing that all for one large multinational enterprise takes getting a few questions answered.  What other questions should we add to this list?
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  • Hi Kevin,
    I figured I would review your list and see if I could add something, but it’s very comprehensive from my review.
    At a stretch, the following may be useful questions:
    If in-house developed, what is the skill-set of your organisation (.Net, ABAP, JAVA, HTML/CSS/Javascript, etc).
    And from a device perspective:
    Will you allow employees to use their own devices? And if so, what will this mean to the employee? eg. Will they be required to be locked down and is this practical if they just want to use their iPad as an email client at home?
    How will you manage updates of firmware to devices (as I don’t believe iPhone has that sorted yet(?) and requiring everyone to be updated via a single physical point doesn’t sound practical.

    A question I’m not so sure how it fits directly in a mobile strategy but I’d be interested in how you’ve dealt with in the past is around music.  eg. iPhones are a natural music platform (the roots of the iPhone are in music), but with copyright issues, is it as simple as asking employees to sign a declaration taking responsibility for their music content (not to mention the account used to authorise Music).  That said, the fact that they need to synchronise this with home music collections (on home computers) may mean music should fall outside any mobile strategy (which will lead to other problems).  Similarly, purchasing Apps probably needs to be discussed, though I imagine most employers would choose to simply lock these down (though I worry about the impact to Gen-Y employees). 

    Thanks for the blog,

  • I am not certain how much of the information you can get upfront, but it will certainly get your clients to start thinking in the right direction and prepare them for detailed discussions.

    Your have prepared an extensive list of questions, however I would suggest a few more:

    – Who are your current mobile solutions vendors (for software, hardware, and services) and which ones would you like to keep. (its a good idea to understand existing relationships they have cultivated with vendors and how they value those).
    – Any preference for cellular carriers and why
    – Have you done any cellular coverage analysis in your market to understand which carrier provides best coverage
    – Any mobile printing requirements, e.g. do you print receipts on the spot?
    – Existing array of handhelds in use and their retirement plan
    – Preference for rugged vs. non rugged devices (though I believe to a large extent the operating environment would dictate this but no harm in understanding this)

    Additionally, I believe it is also important to understand the organizational culture and in particular that of the IT Department. The mobile strategy should also be aligned with their overall long term IT strategy and therefore an effort should be made to understand this as well.