We all know how booming the subject ‘Mobile’ is in our enterprise driven world. Gartner is almost weekly spitting out predictions that over sixty percent of the global Fortune 1000 companies will extensively use mobile devices in their core business processes in 2013. As I Applying tips from SAP CIO Oliver Bussmann in enterprise mobility in my last blog entry it is very important to thoroughly think about your new corporate strategy on mobility.
On the other hand you have to review your existing framework rules. For example change management and internal development. How do you handle existing change management when you get an extra development platform, with extra user devices and extra connections to you backend SAP Landscape? Let’s brainstorm about that for a while.
Let’s assume you have a strictly defined change management protocol. You use monthly release windows, have strict rules for releasing transports, user acceptance testing, budget approval, etc. Whether you have this arranged externally or through SAP Solution Manager, does not change a lot for the question we asked in the second paragraph of this blog post. What is gonna change when we start using mobile applications? I’ll try to describe a fictional situation to emphasize the importance of this question.
Let’s say that we have an SAP ECC system landscape in which we use some classic HR scenarios. We record working times, maintain employee data, run payroll, approve leave requests, etcetera. Our company has hopped on the SAP Mobility Train and introduces Sybase Unwired Platform as the platform of choice. Internal development teams get the assignment to mobilize the working time recording process. They start developing Mobile Business Objects (MBOs) and generate XCode to deploy the new application to the company’s iPhones and iPads. Awesome, we are mobile!
GoLive was succesfull and users are hugely enthusiastic. Everybody happy! But what if the underlying ECC functionality changes? For instance: For time recording we have introduced a rule in which it’ll become mandatory to fill in a customer code when you record time. In other words: employees will have to fill in a new field, to fill a new custom table in SAP ECC on which we can perform custom reporting on customer data level (fictional stuff ofcourse!! 😉 ).
Whole different testing ball game
The development of the new table and input field is performed on ECC ABAP side and the transport is released as usual. The planned user acceptance test is suddenly completely different! Are users gonna test it like before (let’s say in the SAP NetWeaver Portal with ESS Business Pack on the internal office network) or are they also gonna test the new scenario on their mobile device? Are there newly defined testing protocols for Mobile Apps in place? Can they use the same scripts? Are there extra acceptance criteria defined? These are all aspects you have think about before introducing your mobile platform. Make sure your organization is ready to use the flexibel development platform that is Sybase Unwired Platform!
Update your mobile development too!
In the specific situation I described the mobile app will not have the new data (table/input field) available instantly. The MBOs our development team defined, do not include the new table and the user interface does not include the new input field. So during the development of custom backend enhancements, you’ll have to bear in mind that you need to perform changes on the mobile side too. Extend the MBO’s to include the new table for instance. And improve the XCode user interface for iPhone and iPad by adding the new input field in the app.
This aspect can have a huge impact on your development costs. You’ll have to reserve extra budget to extend standard changes to the mobile work force. This will increase development costs of changes, but most likely the ROI time will be shorter, because your employees are able to use the new functionality on their mobile devices and therefor be more efficient.
Change Management and development scenarios are only two aspects of your corporate IT strategy that will be strongly influenced by going mobile. This should be highly important subjects on the agenda when starting to define your corporate SAP Mobility strategy. If you make sure that the people who are directly influenced (Change managers, development team, team leads, test managers and end users) know exactly what is going to change, you Enterprise Mobility will grow much faster, you will start benefitting earlier and your end users will fully use their mobile devices sooner to get more efficient.