Mobile Strategy



Accessibility to information systems should not be dependent upon the device, such as a PC or a laptop, used to acquire information. Our university and the world at large expects access to information services from whatever asset they choose, be it a phone, watch, tablet, or even a traditional PC. Users are mobile and they want access to information services anytime and anywhere.

In response to these new expectations, SFU’s strategy leverages mobile technology and user-centric capabilities, as appropriate, for campus information services. The strategy addresses which segments of the university are priorities for mobile services, strengths of various mobile technologies and how to exploit them, and approaches for investing campus resources for mobile technology.


SFU’s mobile strategy will focus on access, not assets. Devices depend on user preferences; our software, hardware, data, and communications services will support any access mechanism whenever and wherever our customers need them.


SFU’s mobile strategy will:

  • Apply central mobile resources to these high-priority needs:
    • Supporting and improving the teaching and learning mission of the university,
    • Streamlining core administrative functions that affect the student experience at SFU,
    • Enhancing research computing systems wherever possible, and
    • Engaging and personalizing the visitor experience at SFU.
  • Encourage external service providers (vendors) and application developers to routinely plan for mobile access as a normal part of the creation of any information service.
  • Provide a framework for development, acquisition, and distribution of many applications created from a wide variety of sources.
  • Support a diverse family of mobile applications because one mobile application will not meet all expected needs.


IT Services will lead and work with its partners throughout SFU to:

  • Provide mobile-ready technologies and applications to support the most current teaching, research, and administrative needs of SFU;
  • Improve the student and visitor experience at SFU;
  • Maximize the value of investments in mobile technology and staff development and build for the future by leveraging existing practices and using shared people, processes, data, and technologies;
  • Recommend mobile technologies and approaches that require minimal user support where feasible;
  • Leverage existing Information Systems (IS) policies, usability practices, security standards, and quality guidelines wherever possible;
  • Utilize existing information systems and infrastructure as much as possible to support mobile development, distribution, and use;
  • Clearly distinguish official SFU applications from others and protect the interests of the university community;
  • Provide official mobile applications for critical functions (e.g. course registration) via secure authenticated access;
  • Stewardship and governance of this policy is held by the One IS Steering Committee.


Strategy 1: Think “mobile first.”

When developing or acquiring any new service, consider and account for mobile access from the beginning. Consider all technologies for providing mobile access.

  1. Develop web sites using responsive design techniques to ensure mobile access as a first choice.
  2. Provide a framework to campus developers to help them choose appropriate technologies: responsive web design, mobile web applications, or native mobile applications.
  3. When responsive web design, mobile web applications, or native mobile applications do not meet the business need, we will consider alternative approaches. 
  4. When a mobile option exists for any enterprise software currently in use at SFU, purchase or activate the option as soon as it is feasible.
  5. Work with the information systems stewardship process to ensure no mobile projects are approved that duplicate functionality.

Strategy 2: Leverage our processes.

In order to support well-informed decision-making and effective use of resources around mobile application development and acquisition, the following are recommended:

  1. Any newly developed or supported mobile application on campus requires formal approval from the appropriate IS stewardship committee to prioritize and support the project and ensure it will meet business needs with sustainable technology solutions.
  2. Implementation of any application will follow the standard IT Services project management process.
  3. All applications are expected to work within our IT Services enterprise architecture, or an exception request will be required.
  4. Develop network services standards that govern bandwidth consumption and set objectives for wireless availability.

Strategy 3: Standardize, resource, and support mobile development.

SFU should prioritize and support enterprise standards for a consistent and seamless mobile application experience for all of our stakeholders.

  1. Establish and enforce high standards of branding and user experience for all internally developed mobile applications.
  2. Prioritize development that takes advantage of mobile-specific or user-centric capabilities.
  3. Establish sustainable, centralized budget and staff resources to develop high-priority mobile applications and to ensure they remain current and continue to meet user needs over time.
  4. Develop criteria for decommissioning applications that are no longer useful.

Strategy 4: Nurture and guide application development.

SFU should support mobile application development across an identified range of technologies.

  1. Create a structured technical environment, including recommended technology tools and best practice guidelines, which will lead to innovation in the area of mobile applications that can be supported beyond the tenure of an individual developer.
  2. Establish branding and user experience guidelines for all SFU developed mobile applications.
  3. Build and foster a mobile developer “expert community” within IT Services. Provide support, communication channels, tools, and guidelines within IT Services and evolve these resources as skills and technologies change.
  4. Develop a channel for the expert community to communicate and coordinate their plans for mobile development.
  5. Engage with and mentor students interested in mobile development for SFU; offer them opportunities to work within IT Services.

Strategy 5: Single source our distribution.

IT Services will provide a central distribution process for the entire SFU community to easily find and use all SFU native mobile apps.

  1. Develop a central web presence to communicate about SFU supported and developed native mobile apps available to the community.
  2. Publish SFU native mobile apps in external app stores under an SFU account (not an individual one). Apps that are published as SFU apps must follow all branding and oversight requirements, to minimize brand, reputation, and security risks.
  3. Support a local enterprise app store for the SFU community.
  • Make SFU apps easy to find.
  • Support a variety of platforms, development languages, and integration levels.

Strategy 6: Create a secure, private, and compliant mobile experience.

IT Services, in conjunction with key stakeholders, will build mobile services that effectively guard users’ identity, privacy, and accessibility, while simultaneously protecting University information assets.

  1. Prevent inappropriate access to mobile applications and data by using the SFU authentication system.
  2. Inform users about the dangers of data storage on mobile devices and develop effective processes for reacting to lost device incidents.
  3. Update the acceptable use policy for standards, compliance, and procedures related to mobile computing.
  4. Develop a university information systems security policy that ensures:
  • Mobile users will receive privacy and security protection, and
  • University information assets are protected.

Appendix – Definitions

Responsive web design (RWD) creates websites with an optimal viewing and interaction experience appropriate for the users’ screen size. On smaller screens, they are characterized by simplified display and navigation and have a minimum of amount of resizing, panning, and scrolling. RWD sites work equally well across a wide range of devices from desktops, to tablets, to mobile phones.

A site designed with RWD adapts the layout to the presentation device’s viewing environment by using design techniques designed to recognize the proportions of the display environment and adapt the content to optimize the viewing experience.

Responsive web design is becoming more important as the amount of mobile traffic now accounts for more than half of total internet traffic. This trend is so prevalent that Google has begun to boost the ratings of sites that are mobile friendly if the search was made from a mobile device.  


This strategy has been guided by research that other institutions have implemented. We relied especially on Cornell University, University of New Brunswick, and EDUCAUSE for material.

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