What To Consider When Creating An Enterprise App

The enterprise app market is set to explode with Gartner expecting spending in this area to grow by 7.5 per cent, reaching US$149.9 billion by the end of the year. This figure is set to increasing to US$201 billion by 2019. That doesn’t mean every business-focused app will become a success story as the analyst firm's research also shows organisations are becoming savvier in choosing which apps to adopt. Whether you're an in-house developer or a third-party app maker, it is imperative to know the "dos and don'ts" for creating enterprise apps.

Business apps image from Shutterstock

If you take a look at Apple's App Store or Google's Play Store, you'll notice a plethora of apps that seem pointless or only server a single purposes. Just because you can make an app doesn't mean you should do so with little thought on how it will benefit users. The same principle can be applied to enterprise apps. With the enterprise app market set to grow significantly in the next few years, there will be a wave of developers who want to claim a piece of that pie. So how do you ensure your enterprise app will stand out from the crowd and, above all, bring value to your business users?

K.I.S.S. (Keep It Simple, Stupid)

This is one of the most important things to keep in mind when creating an enterprise application. While we stressed before that making a single-function application is a no-no, you also don't want to load your app with features that make it confusing for the user.

You can't please everybody. Apperian director of product marketing Stephen Skidmore recommends asking yourself the following questions when you're developing an enterprise app:

  • Will the app deliver value to employees?
  • Does the app make business processes easier, faster, and more accessible?
  • Once the app has been deployed, will employees see the value and become repeat users?

If you're working in an internal development team, it's useful to ask employees what features they want to see on the app that would make their lives easier.

Management capabilities

Building an app is one thing, managing it after it has been deployed is another. This is something you should think about during the app development process. Building in management tools that organisations can take advantage of will make a world of different. Tools could be made for rolling out app upgrades across different mobile platforms, app testing and lifecycle management. This could mean more work for you as a developer but it will make your app much more attractive to businesses.

Don't forget the look

Enterprise apps should strive to look and feel like a consumer app. Just because it's being used in a serious business and needs to be practical doesn't mean you have to sacrifice aesthetics. A good-looking app will make the user experience much more pleasant and encourage employees to use it more often.

Integration with the company’s legacy systems

Let's face it, there are plenty of companies out there that still run on legacy systems. It's not something that will change overnight so developers need to consider how their enterprise apps will work with these outdated systems.

Organisations may shun your product because it doesn't integrate with the older systems they have already invested heavily in, such as enterprise resource planning (ERP) systems. You may want to think about using an enterprise-grade mobile backend-as-a-service solution with an API infrastructure to overcome the problem as this allows mobile devices to easily access legacy systems.


Comments

    The article couldn't be more wrong

    An enterprise app should be ugly.

    It should be designed by a commitee of people that will never have to use it, and have never worked in the business area it is designed to support.

    Final approval for the app should be the responsibility of someone without a solid understanding of what computers are capable of or why IT was invented in the first place.

    The user exists to serve the app, not the other way around.

    Upgrades to the app should always make the app slower and harder to use. As much as possible, these upgrades should change the interface entirely, ensuring that no user can benefit from their prior experience in the business.

    The user should be required to enter redundant data, like account numbers that are part of the current record and available to the app. If ever the current date is to be recorded, the user should have to enter that themselves, with separate fields for day, month and year, so copy-paste is impractical and typing is slower.

    Search functions should be exact match only, requiring the selection of multiple obscure flags, and only returning results if the user can guess which combination of flags actually makes the search work. The flags should be undocumented, counterintuitive, and only discoverable via trial and error.

    The user should be expected to make calculations themselves, especially if it involves dates. You will not provide them any kind of calendar widget, they will have to use some other way to calculate due dates and timeframes.

    The app should arbitrarily split processes into multiple screens, even when they could easily fit on one. Screens should contain redundant fields which are never used. It should also contain fields which always require the same information, but are never set to a sensible default. The fields should be named without any clear convention. The user should not be able to use the app without an instruction sheet separate to the app.

    The app should contain hidden 'modes' that lock the user out of certain processes unless they navigate the app in a very specific order.

    The app should allow someone to complete an entire process only to fail at the last screen. The error message should be inscrutable. The documented process should not contain clear instructions on how to deal with the error message.

    The developer will not test for obvious boundary conditions.

    The app has only one design constraint - the data going into the database has to be consistent and follow business rules and security processes. That is the only thing that matters.

    The user be dammed!

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