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Before you implement mobile applications, you should consider taking the following steps:

  1. Inventory your current mobile situation.

  2. Find major mobile workflows.

  3. Identify "holes" in automation and places where information is missing.

  4. Verify against IT/Business plans.

  5. Plan and carry out a pilot project.

In order to know where to start, take stock of your current situation, including devices in use and people whose jobs have an element of mobility. This is an opportunity to take advantage of in-house experience and knowledge. If your people have been using hand-held computers, try to determine which brands and applications are the most useful and capable. An online or email-based survey can be useful for gathering this information.

List your most critical or time-consuming mobile work, and find places where there are obvious benefits from automation. These "holes" in automation often occur when information is gathered on paper and then retyped into an office application. In other cases, mobile employees may currently return to the office to gather or disseminate knowledge that they need for their work. These situations have potential for automation.

After you have selected one or more mobile workflows that need improvement, verify that your current IT and business plans can accommodate work in this area or be adjusted to do so. Ideally, mobile automation projects should not be carried out in isolation from the rest of the IT infrastructure. For example, it is usually more efficient to combine wireless access to enterprise assets with related Web access projects. Perhaps your IT department is already considering the standardized use of hand-held devices. Input, based on your analysis of mobile workflows, can help to ensure that the right devices, software, and perhaps even wireless network access are selected. Your mobile project must also fit within the current business plan. This may mean juggling existing projects or using a portion of the R&D budget for a mobile pilot project.

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