By TPI and Zebra partner – Shari Christofferson, President of Connect Inc.
What is the first thing you do when evaluating a large investment, like a home? You look at the fundamentals. For a house, the foundation must be without cracks and no leaking pipes or frayed electrical wires. It stands to reason that when evaluating ways to improve the productivity of the mobile associates that the basic mobile infrastructure components should be sound, literally without leaks or fatal flaws.
But wait a minute, mobile performance is based on wireless transactions and computer processing that is mostly invisible. It is impossible to watch each mobile associate to capture their efficiency. How do enterprise IT and Operations teams evaluate something they cannot see?
There are now remote and unbiased means to “see” the basic components of what makes or breaks your mobile workers and IT teams. The ability to view the mobile-user experience in direct relationship to the host application and wired networks, wireless networks, and mobile computers is what makes this possible and actionable.
Here are the three basics of capturing efficiencies in your mobile operations:
#1: Meaningful Metrics: To “kick the tires” so to speak on the enterprise mobile infrastructure it is critical to listen to the beating heart of any mobile business – the mobile worker. If you have a handle this you will be able to get these metrics from your company in minutes, they are:
- Mobile user wait time
- Mobile user interruptions
The user wait time is just simply the time the mobile worker spends literally waiting for a response after system input, such as a barcode scan. The metric, to be useful, captures all the users’ wait time for all mobile inputs, Figure 1.
Figure 1: Pie-graph representation of the mobile-user wait time metric. What would it mean for your operations if more than 25% of all mobile transactions were delayed over 2 seconds in one warehouse and not in another?
The metric is then compared to the industry standard or your company’s standard of performance. For example, most distribution centers require a sub-second wait time for 99% of all transactions. By capturing the true wait time for all mobile users and the reasons for that wait time, i.e. apps, networks, devices, improvements are made to reach peak performance.
Mobile user interruptions are just like they sound – how many times per hour, for example, does your average mobile worker have to stop work because of lock-ups, session drops, disconnects? Typically, this should be fewer than once in an entire shift. Each interruption can cause delays of minutes so it is an important metric to capture, diagnose, and monitor.
#2: Root Cause Impacts: There are three core mobile infrastructure components that contribute to good or poor performance and user experience, listed below. The important question to ask is how does each impact the mobile user’s experience and how easy or difficult is it to capture and use this basic information (Figure 2)?
- Application – the host system the wireless data is transferred to and from, in real-time, such as a WMS.
- Networks – both the wired and wireless networks that the data must traverse from the mobile computer to the application.
- Mobile computer – this includes both the hardware, firmware, and software, such as the browser or telnet emulator.
Figure 2: Each bar in the graph represents the contribution of each mobile infrastructure component on the mobile delays experienced by the mobile users.
#3: Improvements: Finally, once the basics of the mobile user’s experience are clear in terms of the mobile infrastructure, now it is easy to isolate where improvements can be made for the biggest return on your investment. The outcome of this basic analysis should result in a statement such as the one below.
If your organization would like to make these types of statements, then ask TPI a Division of Abetech, to utilize Mobile Systems Intelligence by Connect Inc. to capture an actionable analysis of your mobile user experience that leads to measurable efficiency gains for your operations.