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Building the business case for mobile apps

There is no denying that mobile is vital for companies to focus on. Having moved well beyond the mass adoption of the technology; it is now at the stage where if companies don’t understand mobile, they will suffer in the long term.

According to a report by IBM, 73% of enterprises have seen measurable ROI from mobility initiatives, and mobile-first workers are seeing 40%+ increases in productivity. There is no denying that mobile is vital for companies to focus on. We have moved well beyond the mass adoption of the technology; it is now at the stage where if companies don’t understand mobile, they will suffer in the long term.

Yet, challenges that mobile or digital evangelists face is winning budget for creating mobile apps. Despite being assigned to help the companies they work for take advantage of mobile devices and services, they often face large obstacles internally.

Every company has different pulls on budget, resources and priorities around where to focus spend. IT departments over the past few years have often had to focus their budget on upgrading systems, migrating to the cloud and dealing with changes to the desktop and mobile operating system landscape.

In some cases getting project sign off can take us much time as delivering the overall project. This impacts not only the cost and timeline, but also the agility of the team and the ability to take advantage of delivering what end users need. Solutions need to be built to last, with changes being added over time. Processes need to accommodate for that.

Rather than trying to win budget for a single app, companies need to have budget assigned for products rather than projects. These products will start with the minimum viable product and then build functionality over time. It’s important to plan for small iterative updates, and a yearly review to optimise and take advantage of operating system upgrades.

1. Take an evidence based approach:

Don’t go down the “I think users will” route, take the “I know users will” route. The simplest way to do this is to build prototypes, which can be done relatively cheaply and quickly to put an idea in the hands of users and get their feedback. This user feedback can be used to get support for projects and get colleagues, customers or other influencers excited about mobile and gather the evidence you need.

By adopting prototyping and user testing techniques, facts around key “assumptions” can be obtained and the value of a solution can be articulated to stakeholders. e.g. We showed our users what we want to build and 87% of them said this solution will significantly improve productivity or efficiency (or in the consumer world, users said that they would use this on a daily or weekly basis).

By creating a prototype, companies will be able to better refine their scope and identify which data needs to be included in the app for it to work in the intended way.

2. Use and leverage case studies and evidence from competitors or other industries to reinforce the point:

Market statistics can help reinforce the business case for mobile. Looking at other organisations that have taken this path and showing the impact that mobile as had on these organisations could be key to making the case for mobile a company in the same industry. One of the biggest drivers will be the success of a competitors and budget holders realising that if they don’t take action, their company may struggle to keep up. Even looking at mobile deployments across various different industries, will be important to help identify opportunities.

3. Building a Minimum Viable Product (MVP) is important

A minimum viable product approach is about building something small that will drive value and set the mentality that this solution will grow through time. They key here is to communicate the MVP approach to the line of business.

This involves rolling out something small that will generate ROI and immediately start working on version two and three driving more and more ROI. Taking this approach can also help to split budget up. Not all features need to be there from the outset, but added as they are perceived to drive value over time.

4. Articulate your case at a key performance indicators (KPI) level, measure KPI’s to iterate your solution and keep momentum with line of business (LOB)

Rather than talking about building an app, talk about the benefits that the company is going to get. The app is the vehicle that helps to deliver the KPIs, it shouldn’t be the focus. It’s important to focus on the ROI and try to win budget on the back of that. This gives companies the agility required to change and will also allow you to articulate the value to the business and drive further investment for further versions of the solution.

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Contact Mubaloo by phone +44 (0)203 327 8333 or email

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