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6 Things to Consider Before You Build a Mobile App

Posted by Patrice Farrell on Dec 4, 2014 3:28:25 PM

For the enterprise, the question is how to create a mobile app that gets the job done. When building apps, there are plenty of ways to fail, but with careful design, it’s easy to avoid an app for app’s sake—one that is difficult to use, or worse, useless—and instead create productivity tools that look good and perform well. An effective app requires an investment of time and resources to create a tool that will make it easier and faster for people do their jobs, and do them well. It all starts with business or process owners establishing the project scope with some thorough requirements gathering. We’ve put together a list of six things to consider so you can build a successful app.

What do you want the app to do?

The first question to kick off designing and building the right mobile app is “what do I need to get done?” For your enterprise application, you’re not selling an app—you’re equipping your team to perform their work better and more efficiently. The first step is to identify the problem and dig into your reason for building an app. Are you updating an existing app? Going from pen and paper to an automated process? Upgrading or changing devices or changing processes? Establish what needs to be accomplished with the app—and remember to keep it simple.

Who’s going to use the app?

Who better than the person who’ll employ the app in her daily work to help design an effective app? Consider who will be using the app, what their role is and how the app can most benefit them. One of the best indicators of an app’s success is user adoption—a truly successful app will seamlessly extend the user’s access to information and become a ubiquitous part of the job. Go straight to the source to delve into how your enterprise app can help the end-users. Additionally, business analysts and process owners can assist with mapping out solutions to make worker’s lives easier.

Where is the work being done?

Depending on the task you’re automating and the work environment, your app will have vastly different requirements. An effective app takes into consideration the needs of its users in their environment. For example, in creating an app for a field technician repairing equipment outdoors in remote areas, consider not only the requirements for a disconnected app, but also the user interface. Can that same field tech move through the workflow on the app with gloved hands? Can he submit service orders into the enterprise system from the field with limited connectivity? Creating a powerful app means empowering your team, wherever their work takes place.

On what device(s) will the app be made available?

Of course, where work happens can determine what type of device is in use. What device best meets your business’s needs? In the warehouse, that might be a ruggedized handheld scanner. A field sales representative, on the other hand, might find a smartphone or tablet more useful. Decide which platforms your app should support (iOS, Android, Windows, etc.) and whether it will be distributed internally or externally through the Apple App Store, Google Play, or Microsoft app store.

How will the app accomplish your business objective?

You’ve established what you want your app to do—now the question is how. During this stage of requirements gathering, explore the possible solutions to the problem at hand. Consider the capabilities of the mobile devices employed by your business and how they can be leveraged to make your team’s jobs easier. A critical component to the effectiveness of any app is a well-designed user experience (UX). To turn an app into a handy tool instead of a distraction, the design should be intuitive, and the function should be powerful.

Will your app be secure?

Enterprise apps require enterprise-grade security. When planning an app to streamline processes and benefit workers, security is a top consideration. That’s because with the convenience and speed of greater mobility comes the need for enhanced measures to protect your business’s information. With secure integrations between your mobile apps and systems of record, you can be confident in the data that keeps your business moving.

Once you’ve considered these six critical elements and gathered their corresponding functional requirements, you’re on your way to meeting your productivity goal with a robust enterprise app. With adequate planning beforehand, you’ll be ready to build and deploy a mobile app designed for optimal security, data integrity, and productivity. And most importantly, your well-designed app will be one that your team can use every day to make their jobs a little easier.

Topics: app design, dsi, enterprise mobile apps, mobile apps, mobile platform, ui/ux, user experience

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