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Systems Integration Methodology

Systems integration of mobile computing projects is a very complex task. Mobile computing based on wireless networks draws upon component products and resources from many divergent vendors.  While simple pilots based on handheld devices and packaged single task applications are relatively straight forward, rolling out line-of-business applications that interface with corporate backend systems across the entire enterprise is relatively onerous undertaking. Traditional IT methodologies that are often employed by systems houses do not necessarily address the unique needs of this emerging area. We are suggesting the following deviations from standard methodology in order to ensure success of such projects. These tasks are being categorized in different phases of full life cycle of mobile computing projects. 

Conceptualization and the Vision Setting

  1. Business Opportunity Awareness : Look at early adopters and determine areas of application within your own organization

  2. Technology Awareness and Automation Opportunities : Setting broad goals for mobility automation

Justification 

  1. Business Case Development : Look at costs and benefits

Business Process Analysis and Reengineering

  1. In depth business process analysis : mobile computing inherently changes business processes. Mobile workers work habits change as a result of empowering him/her with tools to do his/her job in the field.

  2. Business Process Reengineering (BPR) : Revised, modified and short-circuited business processes lead to extensive productivity gains.

Architecture Development

  1. Developing Mobile Computing Architecture: A new business and technology architecture must be developed.  This must be reviewed in the context of revised e-business strategy that most organizations are engaged in. 

  2. Developing Detailed Technology Design: After a technology architecture has been developed, a detailed application and database design, including database scheme, transaction/query design and user interface design must be developed.

Detailed Design

  1. Component Design : Selecting products (devices, modems, servers, communications gateways e.g. WAP server, wireless middleware. etc) must be completed.

  2. Selection of Application Development Tools: Consistent with in-house standards or open platform-independent standards like Java.

  3. Developing a Wireless Network Strategy: Choice must be made for a private or public shared network. In some cases, multiple networks must be supported because same network may not have the footprint in all the regions that you are dealing with. 

  4. Selecting the Right Wireless Network: If only one wireless network must be selected, the choice must be made on the basis of coverage, cost, protocol, support by the application server or gateway that is being selected.

  5. Security Design: Security is of paramount importance in mobile systems. It must be an important step in mobile project methodology.

Development and Implementation 

  1. Selecting Right Technology Partner, Systems Integrator our Wireless ASP as an Outsourcing Organization: Since in-house expertise may not be available, a choice must be made whether the project will be handled by internal staff or outsourced to a systems integrator or outsourced to a wireless ASP.

  2. Systems Design Assurance by External Mobile Computing Experts and Auditors

  3. Training of End Users : However simple the user interface, we must institute proper training plan - using on-line help, application manuals, web-based training, off-line CD-based training or in-class instructions depending on the complexity of the application. It is extremely important to train them with new devices and on-going application maintenance, data synchronization and problem resolution procedures.

Operation

  1. Problem Determination and Administration: Just like any other IT application and fixed networks, we must have a problem determination tools recognized and procedures established. we should find out how to extend existing help desk procedures to deal with mobile workers, professionals, telecommuters and others. Fixed line tools do not  always work with notebooks, PDAs and other handheld devices. All calls to the help desk should be recorded. We should have specialists trained in wireless devices.

  2. Wireless Network Problems : While network service provider may be responsible for network problems, IT network staff should coordinate with the wireless operator. Ownership of the problem and responsibility to fix it must be identified.

  3. Management of Mobile Infrastructure:  Suitable tools must be selected for software distribution, file synchronization and virus control. 

These steps should be integral parts of a total development methodology for a mobile computing project.


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