August 17, 2015 // By Russ Miller
Starting your enterprise mobile journey often appears deceptively easy.
Someone identifies a need for mobility or responds to a stakeholder or competitive demand for mobility and you either build or buy a solution.
However, companies quickly find that this ad hoc and responsive approach to enterprise mobility leads to a number of unfortunate results. A few typical examples we see:
- The “brand injury” – User experience and brand representation is poor and creates any variety of off-message perceptions by employees, customers and/or partners.
- The “one-hit wonder” – No plan for product enhancement, not built for support and maintenance, architecture creates many risks such as privacy breeches, compliance problems, performance issues, etc. See also “brand injury.”
- The “money pit” – Development approach is unsuited for meeting business objectives and much re-work, delays and technical debt result. Or pursuing this project eats up budget for another more strategic project. Executives regret they ever approved the work and mobile as a whole loses momentum.
- The “over-promise” – Inexperienced product teams are unable to meet business objectives due to technical challenges/delays, lack of stakeholder involvement, unrealistic expectations for success (or no defined success criteria), lack of user insight or inability to pivot based on actual results.
- The “stinker” – Skunk works project distracts key resources from valuable work, duplicates another initiative or is not aligned with the business, no effective leverage of best practices, infrastructure, existing code or business logic. Who approved this?! See also “one-hit wonder.”
- The “duplicate” – Someone decides that what’s needed is a mobile app that duplicates all the functionality of an existing web app or fat client app. The app doesn’t address users’ “mobile moments” and is quickly on its way to life as shelf ware. See also “brand injury” and “money pit.”
To avoid these common pitfalls, companies should make the investment not just in mobile development, but also in mobile governance.
What exactly is mobile governance? While mobile development is the execution of a specific release of a mobile product roadmap, mobile governance focuses on how to most effectively execute on all aspects of an organization’s mobile strategy, including management, measurement, best practices and standards—all with the objective of being best in class and achieving competitive advantage.
To better illustrate what mobile governance is and how it can help you be more effective, here are eight reasons why you need mobile governance:
Strategic Alignment and Focus
Making the right investments in mobile requires involving stakeholders from across the business, as well as key partners and customers. This diverse group is best positioned to identify, organize, prioritize and fund mobile opportunities for the company as a whole and ensure alignment with overall business objectives and digital strategy.
To facilitate stakeholders’ priorities, the mobile governance team must socialize and manage mobile initiatives as a cohesive program made up of a number of product development efforts which will yield clear benefits.
Plan to periodically review prioritization—the competitive landscape and technology opportunities are highly fluid.
Business and Technical Oversight
Business oversight through the mobile governance team can prevent many of the negative scenarios described above. Focus areas for business oversight include:
- Product portfolio management and product roadmap direction
- Legal and compliance
- Marketing and brand alignment
- Operational alignment, integration and readiness, including acceptance testing, pilot programs
Like business oversight, technical oversight has a major role to play in prevention of negative scenario development by providing clear guidance and support in the following areas:
- Support for and best use of enterprise mobile infrastructure
- Best practices for architecture and development, security
- User-centered design, adherence to platform standards
- Technical standards and approaches, preferred tools
- Quality management and testing methodologies, tools
Like all nascent technologies, mobile is full of hype. And, according to Forrester Research, even the most successful mobile applications take at least three major release cycles to find the right balance and meet business objectives; many must make a significant pivot after the first and/or second release. Consequently, one of the most important functions of the mobile governance team is to set and manage expectations, including:
- Return on investment (ROI)—and when to typically expect it
- Total cost of ownership (TCO) for a product with many releases vs. a project
- Challenges and barriers to success. Common example: Immature or non-existent mobile infrastructure is a serious barrier to the best laid product plans and may require significant remediation and investment to enable the business to meet objectives for mobile initiatives
- Need for innovation and velocity. Many sponsors expect they’ll just need one release this year—it’s the mobile governance team that needs to set enterprise expectations for competitive innovation and the development velocity to support it
- User expectations. Much has been made of the “consumerization” of IT—and this applies particularly to mobile. Product owners need direction on how to build the right experiences for different user groups.
When it comes to building mobile capabilities for the enterprise and integrating mobile into overall digital strategy, companies often struggle to make progress—especially if they experience one or more the unfortunate scenarios described earlier.
The mobile governance team must be well-positioned to drive enterprise visibility to and awareness of mobile initiatives. By reaching the organization as a whole the mobile governance team can help drive collaboration among the many constituents required to design, build and maintain a successful mobile program.
Measurement and Reporting
The high percentage of mobile initiatives that have no or ill-defined success criteria would likely surprise you. Or success criteria is defined but there’s no way to actually collect the supporting data. At a higher level, mobile programs also need established measures of success and periodic reporting of results.
The mobile governance team must drive common measures of success for individual products. Clear, regular and relevant communication of results by product teams will strengthen program momentum. In addition, the mobile governance team should establish and report measurement of the mobile program as a whole.
Finally, mobile governance should set standards for the use of mobile analytics and integration of mobile data into enterprise business intelligence to catalyze cross-channel insights.
Design, quality and innovation signal brand vitality to employees, partners and customers. One of the mobile governance team’s core tasks is to closely align with marketing to ensure:
- Product fit in overall brand strategy
- Brand guidelines are appropriately implemented
- User experience supports and enhances brand personality
Moreover, the mobile governance team must be a beacon that guides product teams in designing products that support brand cohesion.
Leverage and Scalability
Product teams tend to work in siloes, especially if they are in separate business units or functional organizations. This organizational fragmentation is difficult to oversee and often leads to inconsistent implementation of standards even when they exist.
One of the most important roles the mobile governance team can play is to enable organizational and technology leverage and scalability. For example, coach product teams on best use of:
- Existing infrastructure services
- Common, reusable components and code
- Abstraction and configuration over custom or single-use code
- Skilled resources across products
- Agile methodology to achieve velocity
Equally valuable, the mobile governance team should foster cross-team sharing of experiences, lessons learned and how they implemented enterprise best practices.
With product teams rightly focused on velocity, without oversight supportability is a frequent casualty. And, as a result, products go into production that the organization is ill-equipped or prepared to support.
Consequently, the mobile governance team must establish application architecture standards for supportability, a clear process for support transition for various release types (major, minor, break/fix), and guidance for prioritization of common issues (new OS version support, device support, etc.).
In addition, the mobile governance team should set the enterprise standard for support tools such as EMM (enterprise mobile management, formerly mobile device management (MDM)), MAM, and so on, to ensure operational support is effectively using tool capabilities to support the business.
Clearly there are many persuasive reasons for organizations to consider implementing mobile governance. However, mobile governance doesn’t have to start with a full Mobile Center of Excellence to be effective.
At Magenic we believe in helping our clients through a phased approach to implementing mobile governance that not just grows with their organization’s needs, but can use mobile governance as a driver for an overall center of excellence approach for the business as a whole.
Interested in learning more? Contact us and we can show you how Magenic’s Mobile Practice can help you avoid common pitfalls and position your organization for mobile excellence.