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Our organization has gone through a very successful deployment
of the BlackBerry Enterprise Server (BES) and accompanying devices in the past
several months. The service has been a hit with our corporate managers and our
internal subscriber base has doubled over what was anticipated, covering nearly
15% of our overall staff base. Following are 10 lessons that we learned that
can be passed along to ensure the Research in Motion (RIM) BlackBerrys leave a good taste in
your organization.

1. Conduct
a pilot project and evaluate results.

Determining who your most likely candidates are and what they
are looking for in a handheld device. If you don’t know what your staff require
then you’ll never know if you’ve met their expectations.

Determining if BlackBerry is the right solution, for enough
people in your organization will prevent a lot of wasted effort and costs. If
people are looking for the functionality of a PDA, then perhaps the BlackBerry
is not the solution for them. On the other hand if you have a mobile sales
force, a large number of frequent travelers or numerous 7×24 operational staff
perhaps the BlackBerry is just the ticket. The mobile messaging that the BES
provides is ideally suited.

Create a pilot evaluation form and get statistics and comments
for categories important to the organization

2. Have
a deployment plan

Spec out a proper server for the BES. While not required, I
highly recommended a dedicated server. Our BES has undergone numerous patches
and reboots in the months since it was deployed. Other applications may be
impacted if they co-exist on the same server.

Draft up activation procedures and empower IT staff to
administer the service. Documentation is vital. It’s not difficult, but there
are several steps to activating a BlackBerry. Unless you plan on doing them
all, provide sufficient documentation so that the effort can be delegated.

Create a schedule for who will get a BlackBerry and when. I don’t
recommend providing a BlackBerry the day before somebody is going out of town.
Better to have the client use it locally and be comfortable with the device
before taking it on the road.

3. Arrange
for client training

Training for clients is critical. Without adequate training
people will be left to figure things out for themselves leaving many frustrated
and missing out on the full potential of the devices. Do the best you can, but
ideally bring somebody in who’s had previous BlackBerry experience. There are
so many shortcuts and power-tips that clients will miss out if you’re not
familiar with them. I recommend a basic class followed 3-6 months later with a
more advanced class.

Quick Reference Guides are also beneficial. Developing your own
in-house guides is probably a waste of time when you can buy professionally
done guides for less than $4 a pop. Providing staff with something they can
take on the road with them can be invaluable.

4. Arrange
for IT support training

Training for IT support staff is important to ensure devices
are activated smoothly and that appropriate troubleshooting can take place when
they’re not. In addition support staff should be equipped with a BlackBerry in
order to be familiar and to aid in providing the best customer support possible.

Create troubleshooting guideline documentation. Topics to

  • Device
    activation issues
  • How to
    wipe/reset the device
  • E-Mail
    reconciliation settings

5. Develop
a general BlackBerry deployment policy

Draft up guidelines around who gets one. This is critical to
ensure expectations are met. Without guidelines everyone will want one and it
will be too arbitrary to decide who should get one. People will perceive that
favoritism is occurring. Other guidelines include:

  • Create
    a FAQ section on your intranet regarding the corporate support structure
    for the BlackBerrys, who to call and when. This
    is especially important regarding off-hour support.

6. Negotiate
the best possible contract with a carrier.

  • Monitor
    expenditures to ensure your wireless provider is giving you the best value
  • Negotiate
    plan for product refresh. Aim for 6 or 12 months.

7. Don’t
get too fussed about the BlackBerry models.

  • Embrace
    change. The technology refreshes so fast, and if you’re a global company
    what’s available in North America may not be elsewhere
  • Know
    when to recommend one model over another (SureTypevs QWERTY keyboard).

8. Plan
for some accessories

Bluetooth Ready. Any device made in the past two years will be
Bluetooth capable so wireless headsets, keyboards, pen
adaptors, etc are all potential considerations.

Third party software may also be part of the game plan. My
favorite free application is the Google Maps for BlackBerry, it’s terrific!

9. Create/document
the IT Policy for the BlackBerry Enterprise Server

There are a ton of policies that can be implemented. Keep it
simple and to a minimum. More policies mean more complexity and potentially
more troubleshooting. Some basic policies to consider include:

  • Lock
    timeout settings (screen-saver lockout)
  • PIN
    to PIN communications (allow or disallow)
  • SMS
    & IM policy (ok or not)
  • Allow
    outgoing calls while locked (by default its disabled, rather annoying)

10. Know
the true costs, make a proper business case

  • BES
    When your getting started most organizations
    should manage to negotiate the BlackBerry Enterprise Server licensing for
    free. The network provider will more than make up on the BES licensing
    through the sale of BlackBerrys and on usage
  • Device
    As with cell phones, the longer your term, the
    less you’ll pay for your BlackBerry. Budget at least $100 a device as a
    one-time cost in addition to your monthly fees. The newer generation
    devices will always cost more than something that is a year old.
  • Usage
    It may come as a big shock to people but its
    going to cost more to operate the BlackBerry devices than cell phones. Our
    experience may not be typical but our monthly bills quadrupled. There are
    several reasons for this: data charges, roaming data charges, and
    increased calls from the BlackBerry since everybody is walking around with
    their entire address book.

I’ve been involved in so many product rollouts in my career
that I’ve lost count. Despite the high maintenance the BlackBerry service has been
a huge success within our organization. Our clients love them, warts and all,
and have only had two people give theirs back. I hope the lessons I learned
will help your organization enjoy a sweet BlackBerry deployment soon.

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