Once you do an effective needs analysis, you have to match the mobile tech with those needs. Here are some tips for doing this without losing your mind.
Effective alignment begins with your state of mind
1. IT is neither your enemy nor your beast of burden. IT people have legitimate responsibility for the operation and security of the technology systems, plus they likely know more about which technology works and doesn’t work. Treat IT as equal partners in the project. Find common ground to make the technology and IT resources work for you. And whatever you do, be reasonable with your deadlines. Neither Rome nor any mobile application worth paying for was built in a day.
2. Execs and business managers don’t need to know programming, but they must understand some IT processes. They should spend time with IT learning about the basic technology issues of the project so they better comprehend how it will achieve their business objectives. Be sure managers understand the technology’s limitations so they better understand its potential benefits. The more managers know about the tech process, the better they can direct IT.
Lean towards simplicity and prioritization
3. Reduce business needs to terms your parents (or kids) understand. Be simple and direct about what you want the technology to do. And don’t try to solve every business problem in one implementation. Better to resolve one or two issues everyone understands, bask in the ROI glory of that success, then move on to the next application.
4. Demand functionality a sixth grader can use. Regardless of the application’s complexity, the user interface must be simple. Be dogmatic about this. Nothing kills ROI faster than workers refusing to use a difficult application.
5. Don’t let the creep in. Feature Creep – that continual adding of “gee-wouldn’t-this-be-nice” features once a project starts – causes delays, cost overruns and disappointments. Lay down the law, particularly to senior execs – no new features once the mobile app project starts! That’s why there’s version 2.0
Be clear on your business objectives
6. The application needs to make money, save money or help you run a better business. If you can’t align a project with at least one of these objectives, why are you wasting IT’s time and your department’s money?
7. Accelerate or eliminate business processes. When you do thorough needs analysis, you’ll likely discover processes that exist only because “we’ve always done things this way.” Don’t be afraid to deep-six business operation obstacles that prevent people from getting real work done faster and more profitably.
8. Improve lines of communication to various audiences. Profitable wireless implementations depend on effective communication with stakeholders and other key players in the project. Define a process for IT to gather feedback from end users before, during and after deployment. Facilitate regular communication among execs and managers. Mobile app projects often involve multiple vendors and carriers, so establish clear lines of communication and decision-making authority from the get go.
Be clearer on quantifying or qualifying results
9. Ideally, every objective has measurable benchmarks. While it’s best to be able to quantify the dollar impact of your deployment, sometimes it’s enough to quantify the number of tasks reduced, repair jobs increased, etc. The key is to have business units and IT agree on what you’re quantifying.
10. Even “warm and fuzzy” has a measure for success. How many customers did we make smile? Can we double prospect referrals? Has positive employee feedback forms tripled? Wireless gains may not only be about the money, but also customer and employee satisfaction. Set up some sort of metrics to gage these intangible successes.
Aligning technology initiatives with business objectives isn’t always easy, but it’s always essential to the success of the project.
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