When it comes to mobile data capture services, budget is often the top concern for operations managers juggling dozens of conflicting (and budget-eating) priorities. It’s a fact that a mobile data project is going to cost you. A November 2014 study by Kinvey (From CIO & Mobile Leader State of Enterprise Mobility Survey, kinvey.com) found that on average, it takes an astonishing $270,000 and 7-12 months to develop a single mobile app. And 18% of CIOs surveyed by Kinvey said it takes between $500,000 and $1,000,000! Here are three of the most important considerations you should think about, as you evaluate your own budget requirements and set expectations within your organization.
- Carefully assess where you are today and what the status quo is costing you.
If you or some of your peers get sticker shock just thinking about mobility projects, consider this: staying with paper processes and manual data entry is likely costing your business far more than a carefully selected (or developed) mobile data solution—possibly to the tune of tens of thousands of dollars each year (or more!). Studies have shown that just one form on a piece of paper costs an organization $4.56 on average PRIOR to processing it. Add in scanning and processing costs and some studies report the average cost of a single form to be upwards of $12+ over its lifetime…for a single form! (Process-Critical Forms and the Mobile Workforce—Making the Digital Savings, AIIM.org, 2012)
When you consider that many companies spend approximately $20 on labor costs to file a document, $120 on the labor required to find a misfiled document, and $220 to reproduce a lost document—it’s not hard to see how those numbers can add up fast. Much like evaluating your efforts at hitting a weight loss or fitness goal, you won’t know if you’re successful in implementing a mobile data solution unless you first evaluate your current situation with honest glasses.
- Quantify the potential benefits of going mobile.
Consider all the benefits that immediately spring to mind with regards to enterprise mobility, and then put a dollar figure on each of them.
- How much additional revenue can you achieve? (who doesn’t want more!?)
- How will a mobility solution help you save time and money?
- How will mobility increase productivity overall?
- What opportunities will surface for enhancing customer service?
- How will a move to mobility give you a competitive edge?
- Estimate your mobile data project budget.
When estimating your budget, it’s important to be realistic about the fact that transforming your business through mobility is a huge undertaking. The concept of digitizing your forms at first might sound simple, but there are a multitude of backend workflows that are impacted in the process. As you can see in the image below, digitizing your forms is just the tip of the iceberg.
When taking on such an ambitious task, an important part of the decision-making process will be determining whether to build your own mobile solution or choose a partner to do it with you. Regardless if you do it yourself or use a partner you should strongly consider tools designed to rapidly build mobile data collection applications as they will save a great deal of development time and cost. It’s important to carefully consider the following major budget categories as part of your evaluation.
- Software: Includes software licensing (for COTS system purchases) – usually per user, as a perpetual license or monthly subscription, plus ongoing annual costs
- Hardware: Mobile devices (both purchase and maintenance)
- Services: App development or implementation costs
- Training: Either through app platform vendor or internal resources
- Support: Internal and external, for when things go wrong (they will), downtime consequences/costs and system enhancements/changes
Have some rough numbers in your head? Great! Now increase those figures by 50%. You heard that right. It’s a fact that most mobility projects take longer, cost more and involve greater stamina than business leaders estimate in the early stages. But take heart—when you can back up your ‘big number’ with a solid business case for the benefits and return the company will see over the next 12-24 months, getting the ‘green’ will no longer be an obstacle. Doing it right first time by investing the appropriate amount of time, effort and resources will save a lot of rework later and create more value in the long run.