The new ArcGIS platform has helped broaden the spectrum of ‘where’ questions which subscribers can answer. Publishing data and generating maps has never been easier. Configuring simple map based web applications which provide focused functionality (editing, public engagement etc) is simple. But we see 3 common mistakes being made when using the platform to answer ‘where’ questions.

3 Common ArcGIS Mistakes

1. Lack of clear problem definition

This could be rephrased “Lack of defining the ‘where’ question in need of an answer”. Too often we see ArcGIS projects started without a full definition or understanding of the actual problem. What is the business problem in need of a solution? Projects often start with the technology “We need this ArcGIS mobile app”, and not at the “Why we need this mobile app”. A subtle but big difference. We call this the ‘why in the where’. Using a mobile ArcGIS example. The why might be “Our (electric utility) inspections are still conducted with pen and paper. A mobile ArcGIS app would help our staff get their jobs done quicker and more efficiently”.

Without a clear problem definition or, as we sometimes see, trying to solve too many problems at once can result in a solution which is incomplete or off the mark.

2. No solution story

We like to ask: “What might a solution look like?”. You might have a clear idea of the problem in need of a solution. But exploration through the story may reveal the “true” problem. And that may not be what you initially thought, or may have elements you had not originally considered. A solution story is part of what we call discovery. Again not technology focused, more walking down the problem to solution path. We discussed this in some depth in our blog post “Teasing out the (GIS) Story”.

Again using our mobile ArcGIS problem from above. A typical solution story conversation might be:

Q. So tell me how your inspections are conducted today.
A. Our staff use a paper map to locate the power pole to be inspected. A paper work order describes what needs to be done. When the inspection is complete a form is filled out which describes the inspection and whether it was completed successfully with additional notes. Often a picture is taken as part of the inspection.
Q. Are inspections conducted in populated and remote areas.
A. Yes, our staff work across the state.
Q. So is wireless connectivity a problem in the remote areas.
A. Yes, staff often work in areas where communication is impossible.
Q. So any mobile ArcGIS solution developed would need to work both online and offline?
A. Correct

We could continue this conversation. But you see how this conversation is revealing critical information. Walking through the solution story helps provide clarity and can reveal elements or problems not originally considered.

3. Underestimating the importance of data

Data is the life-blood of your solution. That is the right data to solve the problem. Data which is accurate, up to date and complete. Too often we see data being just a project after-thought. Let me give you an example. We recently helped an organization get started with ArcGIS. They had a very specific need or ‘where’ question in need of an answer. We set up ArcGIS Online for them, trained them on its use and set up some configurable applications. After our initial engagement was complete, they called us: “We cannot answer our where question with ArcGIS”. They were frustrated. We dug deeper, what was the problem? “We are using free public data to help us answer our business question. We have all published to ArcGIS. But none of the data lines up with the actual features on the ground.”

We are of course helping to correct this data. To improve the accuracy. But this example does help illustrate the importance of data. Too often data is a key barrier to solving problems with ArcGIS. The wrong data, inaccurate or incomplete is common. As the saying goes “garbage in means garbage out’”

What other challenges or mistakes could we add to this list? Contact us on 801-733-0723.

matt_sheehanAuthor: Matt Sheehan

Matt Sheehan is a Principal at WebMapSolutions. Matt evangelizes GIS and intelligent maps around the world through keynotes, articles, tweets and his books. Follow him on Twitter: @webmapsolutions

Join Over 2000 of your Peers!

Get WebMapSolutions latest articles straight to your inbox. Enter your email address below:

WebMapSolutions
Schedule Free ArcGIS Consultation
Our goal is to help you successfully apply ArcGIS to solve your business problems. Conducted by an ArcGIS expert, our free 30 min consultation will help move you forward.
Thank You. We will contact you as soon as possible.
SUBSCRIBE TO OUR BLOG
Our blog is filled with lively discussion, news, ideas. We take a fresh perspective on the rapidly changing world of GIS. Don't miss a post ... join over 1000 of your peers.
Do you want massive traffic?
Dignissim enim porta aliquam nisi pellentesque. Pulvinar rhoncus magnis turpis sit odio pid pulvinar mattis integer aliquam!
  • Goblinus globalus fantumo tubus dia montes
  • Scelerisque cursus dignissim lopatico vutario
  • Montes vutario lacus quis preambul den lacus
  • Leftomato denitro oculus softam lorum quis
  • Spiratio dodenus christmas gulleria tix digit
  • Dualo fitemus lacus quis preambul pat turtulis
* we never share your e-mail with third parties.
WebMapSolutions
CONTACT US
Are you looking for advice or help with ArcGIS? We are happy to share with you our thoughts and expertise to move you forward. Fill out the form below and we will be in contact soon.
Thank You. We will contact you as soon as possible.
WebMapSolutions
WORKSHOP SIGN UP
Our goal is to help get started and maximize GIS ROI. Conducted by on of our GIS experts, our free 1 hr Discovery Workshop will provide you a GIS road-map.
Thank You. We will contact you as soon as possible.
WebMapSolutions
Schedule a GeoAppSmart Demo
GeoAppSmart for ArcGIS we have designed with flexibility in mind. Let us show you how the app works. Fill out the form below, and we will contact you to set up a demo.
Thank You. We will contact you as soon as possible.
Request a Demo
Learn more about GeoAppSmart for ArcGIS. Schedule a demo. We can show you the features of this is a new breed on super flexible ArcGIS apps..
SUBSCRIBE TO OUR BLOG
Our blog is filled with lively discussion, news, ideas. We take a fresh perspective on the rapidly changing world of GIS. Don't miss a post ... join over 1000 of your peers.
Discounts!
Subscribe now to our free daily newsletter and get special offers and 20% discount.
More than just MOBILE .. All device ArcGIS apps are finally HERE!
GeoAppSmart for ArcGIS is one of a new breed of web based ArcGIS apps which:

  • Runs on any device - PC, laptop, smartphone, tablet
  • Can be used anywhere - Online or offline
  • Infinitely flexible - Built using plug-in tools
  • Easy to set up, configure and use

Download our new eBook, and learn more about these new super flexible web apps.
* we never share your e-mail with third parties.
New to ArcGIS Online and wondering how to GET STARTED?
Our free eBook 'Success with ArcGIS: Your Roadmap' will walk you through the critical success elements:

  • Defining the problem
  • Evolving the story
  • Building the runway
  • Solution implementation

If you are looking to JUMPSTART your deployment and use of ArcGIS Online this eBook is for you.
* we never share your e-mail with third parties.
S
Subscribe to Our Newsletter
Our newsletter is filled with news, tips, tutorials and lively discussion focused on the exciting, rapidly evolving world of GIS. Join over 2000 of your peers.
     
Wondering about Mobile GIS?
Our free eBook 'Your Guide to Mobile GIS' will help you get started and move forward with this exciting technology. We cover:

  • Your mobile GIS options
  • Provide case studies
  • Discuss best choices
  • Look ahead

If you are looking to improve how your mobile staff get their work done. This free eBook is for you.
* we never share your e-mail with third parties.
Want to get the most out of ArcGIS Online?
Our free eBook 'Success with ArcGIS Online' will walk you through the critical success elements including:

  • The Why
  • The Who
  • The How
  • The Where

If you are looking to get started or maximize your ArcGIS Online ROI, this eBook is for you.
* we never share your e-mail with third parties.
IoT on Map - Real-Time Reporting, Tracking and Monitoring Made Simple
Download our free Internet of Things eBook. Learn how to easily track moving assets, monitor fixed assets and report problems in real-time. Simple, flexible and affordable.
Want to get the most out of ArcGIS Online?
Download our free eBook 'Success with ArcGIS Online'. The eBook walks you through the key success elements: the why, who, how and where. Get started or maximize your ArcGIS Online ROI.
Sign up for our free GIS Discovery Workshop
Wondering how to get started or maximize your GIS ROI? Our free 1 hour workshop is designed to provide you a road-map to success with GIS. Sign up for it today.