A few weeks back, I wrote an entry about Mobile Audits and the key trends to look for in a mobile auditing solution. Well, I seem to be on a mission to out do myself, and expand my thinking here. When we look at the Compliance paradigm, whether Quality Management, EHS Management, Food Safety Management, Supplier Management, or general corporate governance, I think of a few key areas that are needed in technology:
1. Automation: We want to automate as much of the process as possible - eliminate double-entry of data, manual activities, and use workflow to streamline the process.
2. Simplicity: This is more like "complex simplicity" - an oxymoron that everyone seems to want. What it means is that it has the intelligent business rules and feature-rich functionality to achieve complex business goals, but presented in a simple, easy to use format.
3. Visibility: We want to make sure that the data is organized in such a way that make sense, and can be trended and analyzed in an efficient manner.
4. Portability: What I mean here is not necessarily just in reference to portable devices. It's a concept more than a deployment. Can I access the information from one area to the next? Can I view on mobile? Can I see multiple functional areas rolled up into one report? Can I scale to multiple areas? In other words, can I port the data anywhere I want to, and still be able to see what's relevant?
The more we look at these elements, and all of these apply to the various disciplines that fall under the big compliance umbrella, the more we see a shift in how we need to access information. Mobility covers all these areas, and is really becoming another extension of the business process automation. If we think about our day at work, how often are we looking at information on a smartphone or tablet, versus sitting in front of a computer?
I did a quick study on my own day, and found that I was at my desk a total of 3 hours, and in conference rooms or out and about the office for 4.5 hours:
When I wasn't at my desk, I was on my tablet and/or smartphone. I checked 45 emails on my phone, and approved 15 items from the tablet. I saved about 5 things to work on at my desk:
My point is, that if you spend over half your day away from your desk, or otherwise engaged, having a mobile solution can increase your ability to remain productive while on the go. It's no longer a "cool thing" that you can do - gone are the days of the first adopters of the Blackberry-style pagers, where you were the novelty of the office. Now, it's common to see someone doing actual, functional work on a mobile device.
The shift is that mobility is now a critical part of the process, and is address in the elements listed above:
1. Automation: Mobility enhances the automation of a Compliance Management System. It provides us with a further capability to extend our operations beyond the desktop. By recording information in a mobile capacity, you are eliminating manual entry, you are speeding the process by which you can respond to events, and you are linking to the system from anywhere you can take your device.
2. Simplicity: The mobile platform is designed with simplicity in mind. You are only given a finite amount of digital real estate to work with, so the information that pops up on your smart-device needs to be relevant, robust, yet simple to operate and navigate. Simplicity is key in mobility, but at the same time, the complexity of information and business rules that sit on the platform needs to be robust. "Complex Simplicity" at its best.
3. Visibility: As I said earlier, I was able to be nowhere near my computer, yet had the ability to approve 15 or so items. I need visibility to do this. Mobile, if done correctly, can display the most relevant and pertinent data for an approval, whether through reports, charts, or data tables. This helps to organize the data, and help users make better, more informed decisions. Having this on a mobile platform enhances the ability to access the information in more places, over a greater timeframe than if confined to a desk.
4. Portability: This probably goes without saying, but mobility is portable in itself. Beyond the obvious, we want to be able to not only have the data on a device, but have it mirrored with your computer, other devices, as well as cross-functional and departmental. Data should be stored centrally, but be viewed from all different angles using any device we choose. Our inputs and responses from a mobile device should be reflected in the same manner they would when we are at our desk.
So, mobility is a new part of the business dynamic. With respect to Compliance, we know that compliance activities related to Health and Safety Management, Quality Management, or Corporate Governance can have an adverse effect on the business if we do not address them quickly. These are areas that pose significant risk to the business, and if we want to maintain this responsiveness to compliance, mobility will play a huge role in business operations going forward.