According to Frost & Sullivan, 68% of businesses planned one or more additional apps during 2013. Despite this, a large number of projects fail to deliver any real business value, or even launch in the first place.
Business leaders understand that apps can help their employees but don’t know how to go about it. There is pressure to deliver projects within tight budgets. Often it is line of business managers handling projects who don’t fully understand the importance of making sure IT departments are involved from the beginning.
CIOs face real challenges in managing the capacity of maintaining or upgrading current infrastructure to enable business improvements through apps.
We have witnessed far too many occasions when a company will either try to do it themselves or go to developers deemed more affordable, only to find that they can’t deliver on the project.
When done properly, enterprise apps can really improve staff productivity and increase sales, as well as transform entire business processes.
1. Are employees mobile?
According to Yankee Group, 39% of the workforce is mobile. For any company that has employees who spend time out of the office on a regular basis, apps will help to improve productivity. The bigger the company, the more there is a business case for bespoke vertical apps.
There will be employees using third party apps to help them with their jobs. It’s a good idea to work with employees to find out what they like and don’t like about the apps they use.
Third party apps are designed for generic use and aren’t usually able to do complex things like connect to backend systems. Building a bespoke app designed specifically for employee and business requirements will offer the best possible return on investment.
2. Create a roadmap
The 2012 Accenture CIO Mobility Survey found that 67% of CIOs and other IT professionals believe mobility will impact their businesses as much, or more, than the internet. If companies haven’t already, they need to start looking at how mobile will be used by their employees.
The best designed corporate apps are the ones that help employees to increase productivity and save overall costs, without adding to their workload.
Mobile software has been around for around 20 years. There are plenty of case studies out there that show the benefits apps bring to organisations. The difference now is that the devices are smarter, the networks are faster and security is more encrypted.
The move to mobile isn’t a technology decision, it’s a business decision. A business should always start with the end user needs and work backwards from there. That will help to define the roadmap and define what an app needs to do. Once you have that, it’s about finding or creating the technology to make it a reality.
3. Build the foundations
Useful apps are built on well built APIs. With enterprise apps, real value comes from being able to talk to private APIs within the company. By starting at the end point of what an app needs to deliver, it’s possible to work backwards to find out which APIs need to be built. By trying to work with what already exists, there is little chance for innovation or improving processes.
You wouldn’t build a house without foundations and all of the plumbing in place! If IT departments aren’t involved from the beginning, projects will nearly always run into problems. Making sure that web services and APIs have been created, or are capable of talking to the app is the most important part of developing an app. In many cases, companies will get their internal IT teams to work on the APIs and web services and use an external developer to build the app itself. Because app requests rarely come from IT though, it’s important to make sure web services will be ready in time.
4. Spend on designers
If an app has a bad design and isn’t intuitive, employees will turn to thrid-party apps that might not be secure enough for corporate data. Enterprise apps are about simplifying business processes so it is vital that companies use a designer that understands the user experience, functionality and business requirements. More often than not, brand guidelines can get in the way of creating an app. If an app becomes too complex then it has failed its objective. If you look at Google Maps, what it does is very complicated but the user doesn’t need to know that. It’s about simplicity.
5. Going for a low cost solution with enterprise apps leads to spending more
An app that is designed to help a company improve its efficiency and save costs is important to get right. By going for the most affordable option, companies will ultimately find that they have to spend more to fix problems.
Whether you use an internal team, contractors or outsource, you always get what you pay for. A successful enterprise app is complex and involves a large number of specialists throughout the project. Unless a company is a software company, it’s unlikely they’ll have all of the skills they need in-house. If a company does try to take it on themselves, the internal team will be struggling to build all of the components needed – leading to delays and extra cost. If you go for the outsourced option, it’s important to make sure the company you pick has the resources in-house rather than being a middle entity. We have heard too many horror stories where companies go for the cheap, inexperienced option and we’re usually the ones who have to clear up the mess!