In today’s highly connected, always-on world, apps are how business gets done. Whether an employee uses his/her smartphone or a device provided by the company, the data supplied by an enterprise app needs to be readily available, useable and actionable.
But that’s not always an easy task to accomplish and often becomes a bottleneck for companies that don’t have a unified approach to mobile app development, one that marries business need and usability. You can find best practices designed to avoid bottlenecks in our new e-book, “5 Ways to Design Apps with User Experience and Business Needs in Mind.”
In many ways, effective enterprise apps are more difficult to deliver than consumer apps. Both need to be user-friendly, but enterprise apps should be tightly linked to business objectives in order to be effective.
For companies developing a series of apps for either enterprise or consumer use (or both), we recommend creating a mobile center of excellence that can develop standardized architectures and find commonalities among app features for possible reuse. That being said, app development should be driven by product managers – not IT. The role of IT is to listen carefully to what the app should do, then use those standard architectures, those commonalities and business requirements to develop and deliver the app.
Let’s take a closer look at how business needs drive app development.
Information – data integration
Regardless of the app’s intended use, it probably has to interact with some back-office system. Maybe it’s the CRM system. Perhaps it’s finance. It might be shipping or delivery.
Before starting development, however, you need to know what systems the app will need to interact with. There may be sensitive information, such as Social Security numbers, that require a higher level of encryption. If you’re in the healthcare space, there are security concerns regarding protected health information.
What do you do when you open an app that’s bulky, slow to load and fails to respond quickly to user commands? If you’re like me, you close that app and open one that hopefully works better. Staff or customers using your enterprise apps may not have the opportunity to find another way, so how does that negative experience affect your company?
That’s why linking the appropriate systems to your app requires careful planning to avoid potential issues regarding page load times and data caching.
Another issue that’s coming up more often concerns the widely varying (and often changing) devices, each with its own screen size, operating system and functionalities. If your company issues a uniform device to all employees or customers who use your enterprise apps, then it won’t be an issue. But BYOD policies and even CYOD policies can leave a dizzying array of choices.
An enterprise app may need to be as device-agnostic as possible but take advantage of the unique capabilities of each platform. But this can’t occur without a good bit of planning upfront, which is why we recommend developing a product roadmap and a low level design before writing any code.
On “Dancing With the Stars,” a well-choreographed dance routine looks effortless. But you know each move was carefully planned and then honed to perfection before the performance. App development is like that. We all know a good app when we use one, because they just work.
Find out more about how to take your company’s app design to the next level when you download our e-book, “5 Ways to Design Apps with User Experience and Business Needs in Mind.” And if your app development moves need a little polish, we are here to help.