Enterprise mobile apps should be developed with care. This is what businesses and their development teams should focus on during such projects.
Among all the mobile projects out there, enterprise app development is a particularly tricky niche. Compared to consumer-facing apps, enterprise ones cater to a completely difference user groups within a business ecosystem, and are a whole new ballgame.
Mobile application development for enterprises, depending on requirements, may demand a widest variety of features to be implemented, in addition to a robust mobility management scheme—the topic tackled at length here. Still, the basic underlying principles are uniform for all corporate apps. Let’s take a closer look at some of the key ideas which an enterprise mobile app should incorporate to ensure both effective operation and end user adoption.
Your Target Audience Is Everyone
An enterprise business app is going to serve your staff, and it’s important to keep in mind that employees will inevitably have different levels of technical skills as well as various needs and expectations.
Some of them will be using the app to work with clients directly, while others will use it as a strictly internal tool, say, for cross-team collaboration. Most of these users will probably only use a handful of built-in features unless they understand the incentives to adopt all of them for their everyday tasks.
Also, unlike public-facing apps, which typically serve their own specific demographics, enterprise apps have to work for everyone within a team. Here, a user’s age or social background should never be a limiting factor.
The bottom line here is that you will have to account for each of these very diverse groups of people. Your job is to ensure your corporate app meets all of these characteristics at the same time:
- It’s easy-to-grasp. With hundreds or even thousands of users with different roles, a steep learning curve is not something that you really want when it comes to your corporate app adoption.
- It’s intuitive. A well-designed UI is absolutely crucial if you want the app to work equally fine for thousands of people.
- It’s flexible. Whether your business is growing, changing its course, or launching into new markets, your app should be easily customizable and allow for scaling with no disruptions to working processes.
There are plenty of ways to achieve this, for example, by making the UI as straightforward as possible. It’s also a good idea to create brief onboarding trainings for users so that they could use their new digital tool as effectively as possible.
Another way to help users get pally with your enterprise app is to let them participate in the testing process before the app goes live. This takes us to the next part.
Involve End Users in Testing
This is not about testing that comes once the development is done; it’s about testing that is continuous and integral to the software delivery cycle. It doesn’t matter if you are only a developer working on the app ordered by another business—you should insist on users’ active involvement throughout the process.
At this stage, it’s essential to stop following the project specs down to the letter for a moment. There’s no better feedback than the insights you can get from actual users. However, you should keep one thing in mind: these users need to be ready to get involved too.
There are a couple of ways to facilitate that:
- Invite the most experienced representatives of the roles you’re looking to test
- Motivate your focus group to provide feedback, at the management level
- Get on the same page with your participating users as to what feedback exactly you expect from them
Function over Form
Remember that an enterprise app is there for one simple but all-encompassing task—to get things done. In many cases, it’s not about selling only, and that’s why you have to make sure that the app functionality is polished and solidified for one single purpose—business efficiency.
Where you can do without excessive design, redirect your efforts to increasing the value of each particular feature. For this, you can incorporate a simple in-app chatbot to help users navigate and learn about the features faster. Remember that having an app is not a goal in itself. It’s simply a tool required to reach particular business objectives through more agile and efficient processes.
Your App Doesn’t Need to Be Standalone
A proper business app augments the full version of the system it is coupled with, not replaces it.
If you’re thinking about an app that repeats the entire functionality of your core system (think a CRM platform and its mobile version, for example), then you’re missing the whole idea of apps and how they work. Apps are there to simplify processes; they’re not there to “do the same stuff but on a smartphone.” It’s simply not efficient.
This is where context matters. You shouldn’t design your enterprise apps to be as robust as a full-bodied solution. Instead, you need to plan for the job responsibilities that would benefit from being done on mobile. For example, field sales representatives definitely have different priorities compared to on-premises sales staff.
APIs Are Future-Proof
A growing enterprise is an ever-changing machine, the one that would need to pivot at some point. This means that sooner or later the functionality of your app might become obsolete.
That’s why building a robust API ecosystem that can adjust to the changing business environment is a very smart idea. You want to have a system that doesn’t simply connect to the tools your company already uses but the ones your company will need in the future.
It’s easier to build it this way than to re-build or meddle with your app every time a new important third-party integration is required. This idea has a certain following in the tech world and is called API-first development.
Putting Security on Your To-do List
Imagine that you have a thousand employees: can you guarantee that all of their devices are 100% secure, 100% of the time? Probably not. That’s why security has to be one of the basic cornerstones of the future app. Security should ooze from every menu tab, action prompt and interface element.
Apart from going all in on app security, there are best practices that you can follow in order to lower cybersecurity risks. For example, schedule app maintenance to apply regular security patches and introduce a strict BYOD policy to avoid unnecessary exposure of your sensitive corporate data.
These tips are not exhaustive in any way. Getting started on your enterprise mobile strategy, you should first ensure you understand the impulse behind your app project: is it a strong necessity to work outside the office? Is it a growing remote servicing team? Your app needs to be devised according to these initial requirements and offer solutions to your end users’ daily pains. Ensuring all of this falls together, you will have a very high chance of securing a new effective work tool that enjoys high user buy-in rates.