VOICES In the Trenches
How to prepare for an enterprise mobile app project.
By John Pitchko, PMP
John Pitchko, PMP, is founder of Pitchko Technol-
ogy in Calgary, Alberta, Canada, and a former
program manager for an energy company.
MANY PEOPLE MISTAKENLY BELIEVE that
deploying mobile services in an organization is easy.
The widespread adoption of mobile technology
leads users to believe that creating an enterprise
mobile service is as simple as downloading an app
from the app store. What many business users fail to
understand is that the app itself is only one aspect of
the entire mobile solution. When planning to deploy
mobile projects, project
leaders need to keep the fol-
lowing two points in mind.
When workers at our oil
sand mine expressed interest in deploying a mobile
app to support their work,
we investigated their base
infrastructure before looking deeply at the app itself.
Our analysis quickly iden-
tified a number of road-
blocks: poor Wi-Fi coverage and budget concerns
about tablets and ongoing cellular data fees. Had
this analysis not been performed, money would
have been spent to provide a mobile service usable
by only a small number of workers. Our work now
focuses on building a longer-term road map of
mobile technology and services for that mine and
building support from the various stakeholders to
If your mobile project also involves workers in
the field, a reliable Wi-Fi or cellular network con-
nection may not be available. Workers’ devices will
likely require a weather-proof enclosure and, in
some cases, an anti-spark certification. For more
traditional mobile projects in an office, users typi-
cally have a secured wired or wireless connection
that connects their computer to the organization’s
network. In that environment, mobility can be
achieved by deploying standard tablets or smart-
phones connected to the organization’s Wi-Fi.
Regardless of location, users may require the use of
a VPN to allow secure access to the organization’s
networks. All these infrastructure factors need to be
considered when analyzing the feasibility for mobile
projects, and may ultimately dissuade sponsorship
of the project.
HAVE A SOLID BUSINESS CASE
Workers at some of our remote well sites had
no easy way to access data. One option was to
purchase a ruggedized laptop, but these were
expensive and could not be easily used at the well
sites. We created a solution that involved deploying iPads and several streamlined mobile apps that
presented the precise information needed by the
workers as they were working on the well head.
Because this solution was less expensive and functioned well, the business case was easy to make.
Other organizations may also find that they
can save money by replacing more expensive traditional desktop or laptop computers with basic
tablets. Another source of value is reducing worker
travel time—putting information and technology at a user’s job site allows him or her to spend
more time at the site and less time behind a desk.
Less travel also provides safety benefits as workers
spend less time driving a vehicle.
Keeping these items in mind will help ensure a
successful launch of an enterprise mobility project.
Without a robust business case and an understanding of infrastructure capabilities, a mobility project
will struggle to gain momentum. As mobility becomes even more present in the world, enterprises
able to rapidly roll out mobile technology will
outpace those that cannot. PM