Don’t be fooled into underestimating the effort and planning it takes to build enterprise mobile apps. Many managers have thought by having developers, and a captive audience that it meant the process should be straightforward. It turns out there are several pitfalls and why we offer our 6 tips to develop a successful enterprise mobile app.
Mobile first is a popular upwards trend, with many factors contributing to more employees using smartphones as part of daily work-life. BYOD programs further spur mobile app development. Therefore, the top performing companies are committing to internal apps stores as part of their mobility strategy.
To give your next mobile project the best chance to succeed, always consider these 6 critical elements:
- Correct Platform
- Success Criteria
- User Experience
Launching any mobile project requires a strong champion within the organization. Preferably this key supporter is a C-level individual. Typically this is the CTO, but depending on the project a key ally might come from Corporate Communications, Marketing, or even Finance.
Another tip when doing an enterprise mobile app project is limiting on the number of initial stakeholders. When possible, don’t scout out every possible contributor for these projects. Working under the radar results in more rapid development and a simpler product definition. Excessive stakeholders may produce a Frankenstein app, which struggles to solve too many different problems and answers none of them well.
Unlike conventional software, a mobile app should focus sharply on one or two key goals. Identify the key user stories and features that define the heart of the application. Use a solid Value Proposition Design approach to outline the pain points and goals this project is solving. When in doubt, remove features. Finally, keep in mind that all great apps immediately answer the question, “What is this app for?”
Additionally, consider the target audience, features, and usage patterns before committing to a mobile app. Engage with a technical resource during the planning phase to provide an outline of existing technology sets before committing. For example, if your global intranet is already employing a feature-rich, responsive design, analyze it as an option. Make sure you keep working to flush out additional key decision points, such as native mobile app design versus a hybrid solution. You might discover the ability to leverage existing less expensive options. Take the time to be sure.
SUCCESS CRITERIA DEFINED
If you want to help in guaranteeing that your app receives a high approval, you must have success criteria formally documented. Success criteria is a list of measurable outcomes the project plans to produce. In other words, these are the list items demonstrating a positive impact on employees, customers, management or any key stakeholder. You want these to be defined and agreed to by the critical project sponsors.
Focus on quantitative measures that represent your targeted goals. Not only does this protect your mobile champion and dev team, but it also helps keep the mobile app healthy and popular long term. For example, user adoption, device types, app performance are all measures that can be defined and tracked. So, plan on spending time collecting and analyzing the numbers. Most importantly, identify a resource that can tell the story the reports show.
USER EXPERIENCE (UX)
Don’t let yourself believe that all employees will happily use your app just because they are a captive audience. If you don’t put sufficient effort in making a great user experience, users will find ways to rebel. An unhappy user community often leads to employee conflict and high abandonment rates, resulting in a diminished ROI or even a complete flop.
Usually, a mobile app’s lack of success tracks back to underestimating the importance of design. Great design starts in the prototyping phase. Developing prototypes help ensure starting on the correct path to developing a mobile solution users will love. Using an MVP approach will also assist with getting the most value for the smallest investment. The key is to engage with stakeholders early to more efficiently manage expectations.
Consequently, giving users a working model is the principal means for discovering what is working and what is not. Genuine feedback is the ultimate reward. Not understanding these critical project steps or ignoring them is what leads projects to disaster.
Reporting such expenses are not as sexy as highlighting new tech innovations. However, It is the short sighted manager that pushes a project without including a budget for maintenance and training needs. It might be tempting when promoting a new idea to ignore the operational side. Be reminded that doing so deceives leadership about the total costs.
Instead, recognize that nearly all projects require changes and enhancements, and this is especially true of mobile app solutions. Device and browser software changes continuously. For this reason alone, you will need to provide ongoing updates to support hardware and software changes properly. See your efforts rewarded by continued user engagement, long term success, and higher overall ROI.
Launching a functional and modern looking app to your internal app store doesn’t guarantee strong user adoption. There is still a need to “sell” your app to the employee community. Moreover, millennials and independent-minded individuals resist strong top-down tactics.
A much better approach is to leverage internal specialists to market your new mobile app. The resources might be from HR, but even better if they are in Communication or Marketing. Let them organize a focused campaign, consisting of multiple channels to promote the key benefits. Organic growth will happen after internal social momentum takes hold.
The Fortune 500 have purposely made mobile devices a critical tool for accomplishing work goals. Enterprise mobile apps foster innovation, creativity, employee loyalty, productivity, and the list of benefits goes on. So while there is a strong motivation to embrace a mobile-first strategy, keep in mind there are unique components to designing and launching a successful app.
Having sponsorship and a general project plan is often insufficient. Enterprise apps often fail due to a lack of organizational and system readiness. Make sure you do an honest assessment before starting every new project.
Managing an enterprise mobile solution on time and within budget can be achieved when best practices and expert resources are in place. 6 tips for implementing a successful enterprise mobile app includes:
- Stakeholder Management: Have the mobile champion, executive leadership and the right number of stakeholders committed to the success of the project.
- Solution Evaluation: Perform a formal review of existing company technologies. Engage internal technical leadership to sign off and accept the solution architecture.
- Success Criteria: Collaborating on how to measure the results of the project ahead of launch will ensure a fair and meaningful way to gauge project performance.
- Design: Make use of experts with experience and proper tools to create a compelling user experience.
- Take the Long View: Never purposely leave out ongoing support projections, which includes training and IT maintenance.
- Sell It: Try not to force employees into a box by making the app compulsory. Instead, let the communication experts do their thing to generate a positive buzz about the app and see employee engagement blossom.