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A Quick Guide to Understanding Mobility Project Lifecycles

A Quick Guide to Understanding Mobility Project Lifecycles

Posted by Jason Holloway 4 August 2015

I recently gave a presentation at the Enterprise Mobility Management Conference in London, where I discussed the typical lifecycle of a mobility project and what ensures a project's success. Before embarking on a mobility project, I think it’s important for organisations to understand the processes involved in the project, and to consider what they want to obtain from it.

There tend to be three common initial project drivers behind any mobility project:

  • The first concerns the mobilisation of personal information management (PIM) – that is, the need to access email, contacts and calendar on a mobile device. This is a very common feature of mobility projects as employees increasingly require mobile access to their work email.
  • The second commonly seen driver is a desire to go paperless in meetings, particularly at board level. Whether driven by cost savings or just improved convenience, this driver is common in larger organisations, especially with members who share these duties across multiple boards.
  • Lastly, the third common driver involves a single, specialised application for a specific purpose, typically for a defined group of users.  This could be a sales app for the sales team, or an e-observation app for nurses, for example.

However, the original vision for the project often covers much, much more.  It is highly likely that these lofty expectations and aspirations are not communicated clearly, if at all, to the IT department in charge of initiating the mobility project.

We've been talking about these projects transitioning from tactical to strategic for a while now.  We were therefore very pleased when, at the end of last year, IDC helpfully published its ‘Maturity Model for Mobility in Enterprise IT’, which charts the different phases and milestones throughout a mobility project, from “ad hoc” to “optimised” – or as I prefer to label it, from tactical to strategic.  This endorsement from such an important analyst was warmly received here.

Bridgeway has now completed over 200 mobility projects with organisations of all sizes and types, across both the public and private sectors, and we often find that the drivers and issues involved in the projects are broadly similar.  There are differences from project to project, of course, but the similarities become increasingly apparent with greater experience.

One of the most important learning points is that mobility projects typically start out as tactical projects, usually with a corresponding small pilot group of users.  However, this project very quickly spreads and becomes essential for those users.  Effectively, in a few short months, the mobility project rapidly becomes a strategic IT service for the whole organisation.

If you recall, this is broadly similar to what happened with email 20 years ago.  In that sense, IT departments are a victim of their own success, and how they deal with this quick transition from tactical to strategic IT service delivery is one of the biggest challenges facing mobility projects today.

There is always a lot of hype and expectation around a new IT project but, to borrow from Gartner’s Technology Hype Cycle, it’s almost inevitable that organisations will at some point enter the ‘through of disillusionment’ stage, which risks stalling the project.  The challenges at this point are sometimes technical, but often they are not product related - indeed, the pain is often caused by the challenge of addressing the unvoiced expectations of the business in the day-to-day IT management cycle.

How organisations respond to these issues defines the success of mobility projects, and this is where Bridgeway can help.  What’s needed to overcome this hurdle is a strategic and transverse-team review of the project, resulting in a documented and phased mobility plan (which, as my audience at the event confirmed to me, very few organisations have). This gives the organisation a greater shared understanding of the plan, priorities and outcomes for the project.  This should focus on the needs of the different lines of business, including legal, HR, finance, and include trade union representation too, if applicable, and match this with the skills and resources available in the IT department to ensure an agreeable delivery framework for the mobility project.

IT departments can also use this documented plan to request additional resources from the business, whether it’s more money, extra personnel or a pushing back of other IT projects, in order to achieve the agreed, prioritised goals. Once this alignment across departments is achieved, the mobility project can really start to deliver the desired agility and productivity benefits.

The organisations that implement mobility most successfully are those that have a documented plan and that align the various departments of the organisation in terms of resources and outcomes.  Sounds easy enough, but it requires strong leadership and vision to compile and implement.

We can help.