Well-thought-out mobile systems are designed to address a set of specific business issues and generate an initial return on investment, or ROI. However, maintaining that ROI over the life of a project is not always a priority when the system is being developed. Most ROI models include taking the initial design, development and deployment costs into consideration, but few take into account the continued operational costs a few years out. These costs include hardware maintenance, hardware replacement costs, application support, application enhancement, ongoing user training and support costs. Spending time during the beginning of a project to develop a post-deployment support plan will not only help ensure that your mobile system will be effective for years to come, but it will also allow you to predict the lifetime ROI of the solution. There are three key areas that every mobile support plan must include.
1: An Application Support Program
Whether your mobile application is designed for mobile payment, mobile field service, warehouse management, asset management, or one of the hundreds of other uses for mobile computing technology, the application itself is the heart of your project. As such, you need to ensure that your application is being protected for the long term. While it is generally true that once software is proven to work, it continues to work, mobile applications are a unique breed in that they are not standalone systems. In fact, every mobile application is really an extension of the business application that it connects to collect and deliver vital business information. As such, changes to these “connecting” applications often impact the mobile application.
Additionally, today’s mobile systems have become complex and as such, not all of the business scenarios can be exercised during the testing period, so it is possible to find “bugs” once released to production.
An effective application support program will include:
- An extended warranty period and identified service level agreement (SLA) for bug fixes
- Technical support help to identify root causes of device issues
- Support for changes in the mobile hardware operating systems
- Support for changes to next generation mobile device replacement devices
2: A Hardware Support Program
One truth about mobile systems and mobile computers is that over time, they will eventually break. Whether by being accidentally dropped or otherwise damaged by a user, exposure to harsh environmental factors, or intentional abuse, mobile computers are guaranteed to fail at some point in time. Device failure shouldn’t mean, and doesn’t have to mean, solution failure.
Planning for device failure and implementing a hardware support program to mediate these failures will enable you to keep your user community working while managing your ROI.
Items to consider in a hardware support plan for mobile systems include:
- Extended warranty plans
- Next-day replacement plans
- Comprehensive warranty plans
- Battery replacement plans
- Technology upgrade plans
3: A User Support Program
Once the mobile system is deployed and your users are trained, you cannot just move on to the next project and forget about the first one. Mobile systems take on a life of their own, and as such, require continued care and attention. Your user community is no different; new employees enter the population, current employees change roles, and other employees move on to different ventures. For these reasons, a user support program is required to maintain the long-term health of the mobile system, as well as maintain the lifetime ROI.
A user support program should include:
- A continued educational curriculum
- Single contact points for help
- Support hours that match user working hours
- Clear escalation paths
- Service level agreements and response times based on issue severity
When implementing a mobile solution, keep these three components of a comprehensive mobile support plan to help you predict a more accurate ROI year after year.