Key considerations for B2B companies when planning an enterprise app
The business world is catching up with consumers and embracing mobile apps. The reason for this is simple: the functionality of mobile phones and the advances in app technology combined together present a real opportunity for companies to increase efficiency, personalise their communication, drive up revenue and ultimately increase their profitability.
If your business is considering developing an app then it’s essential that you take the key steps summarised in this post in order to ensure that the app delivers the results you expect.
What’s the problem?
Deploying mobile apps because they are popular, and a business therefore feels that they should develop one is pointless. They will bring no benefit to the business, employee or agency that builds the app. A successful app addresses a set of clearly defined problems, with considerable time spent analysing if an app is the most effective means of addressing the problem along with clearly defined outcomes. Once the business problem and outcome is clear, planning the app can commence.
Internal System Integration
At the very outset, it’s important to plan which existing systems need to be integrated into a new app. This very much depends on the type of app that’s being developed. For instance, a sales app that aims to coordinate order approval would need to bring together finance and administration – and this means coordinating CRM systems such as Salesforce, internal order systems, and finance software like Sage.
The type of hardware used by your sales force will determine the path for development. If your company operates a Bring Your Own Device Policy (BYOD), then the app will have to be compliant with a broad range of mobile and tablet devices, as you have no control over the hardware purchased by your employees.
Alternatively, companies who issue their employees with the hardware they require can clearly specify the device type, for instance iPad and iPhone, which then dictates the platform the app is built on – in this case Apple’s iOS platform.
Once the app is ready, there needs to be a deployment plan that details how employees will download the app to their device. For apps that include information that is permissible for public consumption, a cost effective means of distribution is through the public app stores: Apple’s Itunes, Google Play and Windows Store. To secure a listing on all of the respective stores, a company must submit screenshots and outline the key features of the app for approval. If the app content contains information for internal use only, it’s possible to create a private download area that will enable the company to securely deploy the app to the relevant team.
Apps should not be viewed as a static development that solves a current set of problems; they should be scalable and evolve as a company’s requirements change. Consideration should therefore be given as to how app content can be updated and pushed out to employees. A recommended way to do this is to create a content management system, similar to those used to manage website content. This will act as a central resource to manage updates to the content and functionality of the app, with new releases pushed out to employees.
Training and End User Testing
A good app development company will thoroughly test an app at each stage of the development process, with bugs and user feedback incorporated into the next stage of development. Nevertheless end users are the best judges of an app, and it’s not until the app is in regular use that user experience and functionality improvements are identified. This is a useful source of information, and it’s important to ensure that there’s appropriate channels for users to feedback their ideas and comments for improvement to ensure that the app evolves with the requirements of the user.
Thorough training needs to be given to employees on how to use an app, and an appropriate training plan needs to be put in place. This can include webinars, training days and email updates to further explain how employees can best leverage the app’s functionality.
Apps represent a large investment for companies, so it’s important to ensure that at the very outset that there is a clear business requirement and the app is not a vanity project. Once these objectives are clear, detailed planning, development, testing and training are required to ensure that the app achieves its original goals.
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