Thursday, July 28, 2016

Why Your Mobile Initiative Isn’t Getting Funded

One of the biggest challenges in starting your company’s mobile journey is getting funding.  Potential financial sponsors are often positioned at one of two extremes.  

On one hand, some sponsors seriously underestimate the strategy, expertise, and overall effort that goes into building mobile apps and supporting a successful mobile program.  These sponsors tend to make a number of faulty assumptions, often including the following:
  • We don’t need a strategy—let’s just start with my pet project idea and see what happens
  • We have people internally who can develop applications, so they should be able to do mobile apps, too
  • It’s a small screen—how much effort can it take?
At the other end of the spectrum, potential sponsors will find every reason why now is not the right time to tackle mobile enablement.  They will typically bring up a variety of valid—but surmountable—concerns that, if not effectively addressed, will kill your mobile initiative.  Here are some common examples:
  • Fear of the fluid technology environment and potentially wasted investment
  • Security and compliance risks
  • Existing technical debt, question ability to integrate legacy back office systems
In addition to the challenges presented by both types of sponsors, you may be making your own missteps in presenting a case for mobile investment.
  • Lack of focus on producing ROI by impacting key KPIs 
  • Lack of an innovative, compelling story—you’re just “mobilizing” existing processes
  • Unrealistic perspective on mobile TCO
  • Selecting a set of mobile technologies before having a solid grip on business objectives
Clearly, there are many pitfalls to getting your mobile initiative off the ground and securing funding.

Here are several ways you can address your financial sponsors’ assumptions and fears—and look smart in the process:

Start with Strategy
Do an assessment of the organization’s needs as a whole.  Identify mobile opportunities in terms of mobile moments.  Then prioritize based on business value, feasibility, risk, differentiation, opportunity for innovation, and so on.  Make sure to identify KPIs that impact the business for each potential mobile product.

This is often a good time to invest in a few proofs of concept.  Target opportunities to translate a series of mobile moments into an app vignette, which can be as simple as a visual prototype (no code) or a skeleton app (coded)—both of which must run on a mobile device.  

The key in either case is to create an amazing user experience that you can socialize to enable stakeholders to envision success.  Alternately, if you have technology risks, you may wish to focus on proofs of concept that smooth the way forward by addressing technical barriers.

Create Product Roadmaps and a Supporting Technology Roadmap
Think of your mobile opportunities as products, not projects.  Each product needs to have a roadmap that maps out evolving business value.  Look for opportunities to innovate, differentiate, and positively disrupt existing inefficient processes.  Each product roadmap needs to support a clear, compelling story of how investment is strategically aligned with overall digital strategy and business objectives.

Create technology roadmaps that support product planning.  Don’t make the mistake of selecting a technology stack before business objectives are clear!  Also be cognizant of the reality that user experience design for each product may also influence technology selection.

Technology road mapping is also a perfect time to align needed infrastructure upgrades with creation of new mobile products that will deliver clear value—don’t miss this opportunity.

Plan for Delivery
Become familiar with the key workflows and expert resources required to operate an effective mobile delivery organization.  Understand probable release cadence, deployment and all the factors that drive it.  Don’t hesitate to bring in outside experts to provide guidance both for delivery process and technology selection.

Be realistic in estimating TCO.  Identify which resources and skill sets may be staffed internally versus relying on partners.  Determine if your delivery strategy will be reliant on partners long term or needs to include a knowledge transfer plan to bring key components or roles in house over time.

How will product maintenance and support be prioritized?  Who will users call for help?  Who will be responsible for training support resources?

Don’t Forget Governance
Once the mobile journey is begun users’ expectations—already high--will quickly rise.  Plan how you will approach maturing your organization’s ability to manage a portfolio of mobile products.  From best practices to standard architectures to ensuring leverage and alignment with business objectives, position your mobile governance model to enable mobile teams, not create barriers.

Closing Thoughts
The secret to getting your mobile initiative funded is to align with business objectives, demonstrate a value-driven plan based on product roadmaps, plan for operational success, and put in place an appropriate governance model to sustain success.

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