Mobile network provider T-Mobile uses a managed service to enable field service engineers to receive work orders on handheld devices over GPRS networks.
Using a managed service allowed T-Mobile to get a service up and running quickly, without needing to worry about security, performance or getting IT staff up to speed on new technologies, explains Steve Boyne, project manager at T-Mobile.
“The timescale was very aggressive and we didn’t have the expertise required internally,” he says. “Providing the systems internally would have meant finding a lot of new skills and resources.”
The service provider hosts the mobile workforce management application and all the hardware required to run the service, enabling T-Mobile to treat the service as a black box, says Boyne. “We don’t feel the need to understand how the service works in any detail,” he says. “We have support people who can deal with those issues and we’re left to focus on the network, which is our area of expertise.”
However, T-Mobile has put a great deal of effort into the business strategy underpinning the service, and early negotiations focused on what T-Mobile wanted to achieve and how the project fitted into the company’s roadmap rather than the technology, Boyne says. The T-Mobile team is also in daily contact with the service provider to ensure that the IT service and business strategy are aligned.
The success of the relationship also requires softer skills, Boyne says. “The ideal relationship is one where you can ring up and ask favours of one another, and know that people aren’t going to have unrealistic expectations,” he says. “That requires good communication, flexibility and a willingness to invest in the relationship on both sides.”
This was first published in August 2004