Friday, 30 May 2008

DIY versus Managed Mobility

The majority of enterprise mobility solutions deployed in the UK have been completed with the involvement of a specialist third party organisation, coming into existence as managed solutions. Yet, organisations have the option to keep development in-house, and those companies big enough to employ their own experience IT staff may feel that a DIY approach to enterprise mobility offers the best option. While each approach has merits, they share a number of important considerations.

Key Issues:

Assessing skillsets and managing risk.

It’s important to closely study the capabilities of both in-house teams and third party suppliers when moving towards an enterprise mobility project. The underlying objective should be to minimise risk within the development and rollout process so the solution can be completed on time, on budget and with the support of all the field worker users. It’s therefore vital to discover whether the in-house department or supplier has the necessary technical and project management skills and experience to ensure success.

Scaling a solution.

The size and scope of enterprise mobility solutions continues to grow – just a few years ago many implementations were designed to cover relatively small numbers of users, whereas today it’s common for them to reach many hundreds. Organisations need to consider which approach to project development can help them reach the required number of users to roll-out, and also allow them to scale upwards quickly and effectively as their needs develop.

Support & longevity.

While design and implementation presents a specific set of challenges, ongoing user and technical support requires different skills and can require considerable resource. Thought should be given to how these needs can be successfully provided for field workers to cover all working hours and circumstances. Organisations also need to be sure that even if they have the in-house development skills to produce a successful enterprise mobility solution, that they are equally capable of developing and upgrading it over a number of years. Can they keep it current with business need or will they need a third party supplier to help achieve this?

Consultation and communication.

End user organisations clearly have the best understanding of their own businesses and the processes to which a mobility solution is being applied. Care must be taken in involving users at all levels - the views, experience and knowledge of the field workers themselves is critical in designing a solution that will be not only a functional success, but one which will also find support among its actual user base. Third party organisations can offer project management experience to make this process operate efficiently and ensure conclusions are properly reflected in the design of the solution.

Infrastructure & server strategy.

Whichever development route an organisation decides to take, a key consideration is how the infrastructure will be provided and where the solution will be hosted. Different organisations have different requirements – if a company doesn’t have the IT infrastructure internally, then a managed solution offers a good option. Many organisations maintain a preference to host this kind of technology themselves, not least for security reasons of having the equipment under their own roof. But building an infrastructure from scratch takes capital expenditure and some time to implement. A hosted service can be up and running quickly and can also be scaled easily as well as requirements expand.

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