Enterprise Application Development: The Definitive Guide

Introduction

You can gain an extra 240 hours of work per year when your employees use enterprise apps.1 This is why 35% of companies promote business apps internally.2 It’s also probably why you’re reading our enterprise application development guide. You’re not alone! Today, more and more businesses are turning towards enterprise apps. Whether it’s to drive efficiency, streamline processes and engage their employees.

But during the app development process, you’ll often have to meet a huge number of requirements and goals. All while juggling different stakeholders’ expectations. For this reason, we’re breaking down the app development process into simple steps and actionable advice.

By following our guide, you can ensure your business app brings the most value to both your users and your company.

Chapter One

What is Enterprise Application Development?

First of all, enterprise application development is where a company develops bespoke software or mobile tech to improve their business. This can be because they want to drive efficiency, streamline their operations or better engage their employees.

But in order to really understand the need for enterprise application development, we have to understand the role of mobile in the enterprise: otherwise known as ‘Enterprise Mobility.’

Our Managing Director Paul Jarrett explores the future of mobile in the enterprise.

What is Enterprise Mobility?

Mobile in the workplace has never been more popular. In fact, 60% of all employees now use apps for their work!3 But even though this trend of Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) has been proven to increase productivity and efficiency, it does have its drawbacks.

The main disadvantage of BYOD is security. BYOD and security need to be carefully managed. Because when your employees are using a mixture of personal apps to share and store company data, you lose valuable visibility. BYOD can open you up to data loss and leakage but with a bespoke enterprise app, you’re in control.

What is Enterprise Application Development?

By developing your own bespoke enterprise app, you can control every aspect. This way, you can do things like enforce secure log-ins on your users. You’ll also be able to restrict background processes, block jailbroken devices and prevent access to the phone’s clipboard. As a result, you’ll have much more control over your company data.

But it’s not just the need for security that drives enterprise application development. Today’s employees today expect a fast, efficient and convenient way to communicate. But businesses just aren’t keeping up. A staggering 59% of employees think that their company has been too slow at delivering enterprise application development!3

Enterprise apps help your employees do more. They streamline or completely automate the low-level, mundane tasks. As a result, freeing your staff up to focus on higher value, more fulfilling work. All while driving the efficiency of your business!

3 Examples of Enterprise Applications

Here are three examples of enterprise application development done right (even if we do say so ourselves)…

Each of these apps solves at least one core business problem. First, the Chancellors app completely streamlines the traditional real estate process. The app we developed brings together a disconnected system of paper and digital.

Alpine Talent Management provides managers with valuable business transparency. This gives them essential employee metrics wherever they are. An ideal tool for the remote workforce of today!

Finally, Student Swipe digitises entire student experience. Meeting digital natives where they are: their mobile phones. All the while, giving landlords a direct channel of communication with their tenants.

We’ll dive into this in detail during Chapter Three. But in general, the key to a successful enterprise app is that it does what each of these three apps do. Solve a key business problem in a way that delights your users.

Engaging Your Employees for Enterprise Mobility
How to ensure your employees make the most of your enterprise app.

Chapter Two

The Benefits and the Challenges

The Benefits

Enterprise apps can streamlines your business processes and fix your key company challenges. Sometimes this can mean completely automating a common, low-value task which frees your employees up to focus on revenue-generating activities. Or it could be removing a common frustration your employees have.

But perhaps the biggest benefit of enterprise apps is the employee insight you get. A bespoke business will collect information on every key user interaction. Whether it’s a task ticked off, an action recorded or a process completed.

As a result of this, you’ll learn completely new things about your business. Many times after we’ve deployed an enterprise app, the following insight unearths problems and inefficiencies our clients would have never considered otherwise.

The great thing about this extra level of information? It’s often in real-time. That means you get a highly accurate, up-to-date snapshot of your business. With this, your company can become much more agile and respond to issues way faster.

"Mobile apps can boost your employees' productivity by more than 34% with nine out of ten users saying enterprise apps have changed their behaviour as a business professional."

Source: Salesforce3

In summary, the benefits of enterprise application development are:

  • Streamlined or completely automated processes
  • Improved employee performance and workplace satisfaction
  • Increased business efficiency
  • Advanced insight into your business and areas for improvement
  • Greater business flexibility

But what happens if you don’t have an enterprise mobility strategy in place? Well, you risk inefficient operations as well as losing out on new and renewing clients.

Without Enterprise mobility, you risk...

Less efficient operations 61%
Missing out on new clients 47%
Losing existing clients 35%
High employee turnover 28%

Source: Adobe4

Employee Insights with Enterprise Apps
Do you have enough visibility into your employees and operations?

The Challenges of Enterprise Application Development

As with any new system or piece of software, there are also a number of challenges to consider. We’ve been developing enterprise applications for over almost ten years now. So, we know the common hurdles companies face when mobilising their business. But more importantly, we know how to avoid them!

Changing Business requirements

We know business landscapes change over time and so do their requirements. Often in ways that just aren’t predictable. This is why it’s important to keep both flexible and scalable throughout development. But also to consider the roadblocks that could come up. Planning for failure helps! So, what business changes or challenges could impact your enterprise app project?

Ensuring a return on your investment

62% of IT leaders with a well-defined mobile strategy achieve ROI in less than twelve months!7 But even so, ROI is understandably still a concern for many companies. To ensure a return on your mobile investment, you should identify your priority Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) that align with your business goals. These are the essential metrics you’ll use to measure the effectiveness of your enterprise app.

Employee Engagement

Finally, it’s essential that your employees get on board with your enterprise app. But as long as you follow the steps in Chapter Three, this won’t be a problem! The secret? Starting with your employees, not your business goals. Give them a tool that fixes their frustrations in a way that delights them. If you start with your overarching business goals and work backwards, getting employees engaged with your enterprise app could prove difficult.

Often the biggest challenges, however, actually come from within the business itself. Whether it’s delays, disagreements or just too many cooks in the kitchen. So, if you’re thinking of developing an enterprise app, then the initial research and planning stages are crucial. You should know the precise people who need to be involved and what is required from each stakeholder at which point.

Chapter Three

Enterprise Application Development That Supports Your Business Goals

Setting Business Goals for Enterprise Mobility

We always say that enterprise mobility should support your business goals. This applies whether you’re looking to:

  • Fix inefficiencies in your business processes
  • Increase transparency over your operations
  • Better manage your company resources
  • Better motivate and engage with your employees
  • Increase your business revenue

But starting with your business goals and fitting an enterprise app into them is like working backwards. It simply doesn’t make sense. You may end up with an app that ticks your business goals. But getting your employees on board will be an uphill struggle. Instead, enterprise mobility should always start with your employees.

Enterprise Mobility That Supports Your Business Goals
How to ensure your business goals define your enterprise app development.

Enterprise Mobility Starts with Your Employees

Having a secure app that ticks off all your business goals is one thing. Getting your employees actively engaged and using it? That’s another thing completely! Employee engagement apps require careful planning if want to get a return on your investment.

Going in, you may have a clear business goal established for your enterprise app. But what about your employees After all, it’s them that will be using it on a daily basis. 

So, you should start with your employees and ask a few key questions:

  • Which of your employees’ tasks lend themselves to mobile?
  • What will the key benefits of your enterprise app be to your employees?
  • How will your app impact their day-to-day work life?
  • What insight would you like to collect on your employees?

Answering these key questions will help to ensure your app brings actual value to your business. But it also helps when it comes to pitching your enterprise app to your employees. By defining the value to their day-to-day, you’ll reduce on-boarding issues and eliminate app abandonment.

Our Managing Director Paul Jarrett explores discusses the key to creating a successful app strategy.

Ensuring the Success of Your Enterprise App

Above all else, your enterprise app has to be well designed. An intuitive user interface is essential! Employees want an experience that isn’t just easy-to-use but a delight to use. Long screen loading times, connection troubles and confusing interfaces will all drive away your employees.

To combat this, it’s worth setting up a system for collecting your employees’ feedback. Whether this is an arranged open discussion or an in-app feedback feature… Or both! Think about what will work best for your team and your company.

The insights from this feedback will help shape your future features and give direction to your enterprise application development. So, it’s important this feedback system isn’t just an afterthought!

Why Successful Apps Start with a Minimum Desirable Product
Your employees don't want a minimum viable product that ticks your business goals. They want something that will delight them!

Chapter Four

The Enterprise Application Development Process

Enterprise App creation

When creating an enterprise application, many businesses will often build a project team which is made up of a cross-section of multiple departments. Don’t make the mistake of treating app development as a project. Instead, look at it like developing a product.

Projects rarely have one person that takes the lead. And not having a dedicated lead causes confusion, delays and fragmented communication with the enterprise app development agency.

"One of the biggest mistakes we see it business treating an app like a project and not a product. They put together a team internally that's there to deliver their project. And once the app's live, they're finished. There's no-one responsible for its success."

Tim Moore - Account Director at Sonin App Development

The answer to this problem? Treating enterprise application development as a product. If you’re building a product, you need a roadmap and a plan of how you’ll adapt over time.

The first step to this is appointing an internal product owner who can take responsibility for the app’s progress. It’s this key person that’ll be the liaison between you and your chosen app agency.

Our Account Director Tim Moore explores the future of mobile in the enterprise.

Enterprise App Design

Getting your design right is a vital part of app development. You only get one chance to wow your users, after all. If you make a bad first impression, engaging your employees for enterprise mobility can be difficult.

We use moodboards and wireframes for every app we build. This way, our clients can see interact-able screens just like they would in the final version of the app. Following this, it’s important to allow time for multiple rounds of amendments. This helps to ensure the best possible app experience for your users from day one.

6 Steps for Great UI & UX App Design
Getting design right is vital. Even with enterprise apps, you only get one chance to wow your employees and get them on-board.

App Integration

When it comes to enterprise application development, it’s during the sign-off process where most delays tend to happen. Because this is where other teams need to get involved like legal and tech.

Regardless of how big your company is, you have to establish a sign-off process early on. This ensures that everyone involved is aware of their role.

Enterprise App Scalability

The key benefit of developing your own bespoke enterprise app is scalability. If you’re using on a mix of off-the-shelf tools like Salesforce, Trello and Workday, then you’re heavily reliant on third-party apps to connect them all. This ends up with a fragmented and inefficient system. One that has a huge impact on your business performance.

A custom business app is built solely around your requirements. That means it will integrate with any existing software you need it to. Making it easy to scale as your business grows and changes.

The Sign-Off

Perhaps the most satisfying part of the process is the sign-off on your first development stage. At this point, you should have an enterprise app that solves at least one of your key business challenges in a way that truly delights your employees.

But it’s often during the sign-off process where most delays tend to happen. Because this is the point where other teams need to get involved. In many companies, legal and tech will need to give sign off at various points of the project. So, it’s essential that you factor this in to your plan. This will ensure that everyone involved is aware of their role throughout development. 

Bonus: After Your App Launch

Many companies understand the importance of managing the app development process. But your post-launch app management is just as important! After you complete the app and it’s up and running, there’s still a lot of on-going app management you need to consider.

By treating business apps like products, not projects, you’ll be able to consider their full life-cycle. And the continuous management needed after release. Because for your business app to be successful, you’ll need to update it consistently. And if you want your users coming back to your app, you’ll need to continue enhancing it. Because this is what will improve your mobile offering and retain users in the long-term.

Chapter Five

How Much Does Enterprise Application Development Cost?

Enterprise application development costs money, there’s no getting around it! ‘How much will it cost?’ is one of the most common questions we get. It’s also one of the hardest to answer. To get a more accurate estimation, you can contact us for a fast and free app proposal.

But if you’re still in the research phase, here are a few key factors that will impact the cost of your enterprise app.

Android vs. iOS vs. Windows

It’s important to point out that different devices are written in different languages. If you require an app to work across all devices, then the separate code will be required for each device, this is called a native app. For this, there are two key platforms you need to consider: Android vs iOS.

If you need to stick to a tight budget and aren’t looking for top quality, but still need the app to work on all devices, you can opt for a hybrid app.

Android vs. iOS App Development
Android vs iOS, choosing the right platform is essential to the success of your app. In this article, we help you to choose right.

Native vs. Hybrid Enterprise Application Development

Native: Native enterprise apps developed specifically for the mobile platform that they’re running on. Because of this, native apps are more optimised and they can take advantage of everything the OS has to offer.

Hybrid: Hybrid apps, on the other hand, are generic apps that work on a range of different systems and devices. To do this, they use a combination of different web technologies hosted inside a container.

Both approaches to enterprise application development have their pros and cons. There isn’t one solution that answers everything here. But we typically recommend native app development, here’s why.

Native vs Hybrid Enterprise Application Development

Taking a native approach means writing code in the relevant language, whether that’s Objective C or Swift for iOS and Java for Android. Because they use the code that apps are designed to be written in, native apps tend to perform better. As app developers, we also get complete access to everything that the OS makes available.

We know the promise of being able to build once and deploy everywhere through hybrid is an appealing headline. But often we’ll find that as you go through the hybrid app development process, you have to start making compromises. And if you want to deliver the best possible experience across each device, you’ll end up building a lot of bespoke functions anyway.  

This is why we recommend the native approach to enterprise application development. You’ll get the most out of the OS and deliver the best possible user experience.

Our MD Paul Jarrett explores native vs hybrid enterprise application develoment

App Features

Quite simply, the more features you require the higher your costs will be. The more complicated your app, the more development time is required.

If budgets are tight then you should consider phasing features. This means launching an app with the key features, and introducing new features as and when you have more budget. A huge benefit of this approach is the opportunity to analyse user’s behaviour within the initial app, giving you a much clearer picture of whether new features will be useful or not.

By opting for a phased approach, you’re not just reducing risk. You’re also increasing the chance of a return on your mobile investment faster.

Development Timescales

Similar to building a house, the quicker you need the house built the more people need to work on it, and the overheads go up. You will need to set a realistic expectation of your timescales for your budget. If your launch date cannot be moved, then we recommend the phased approach as mentioned above. Launch with one or two key features and gradually release new ones over the following months.  

Development Iterations

The biggest cost driver we see is a result of unclear objectives for the app. If the business goals haven’t been established during the initial stages of app creation, the purpose of the app and features required can change throughout development. If a significant amount of changes and iterations occur throughout the development stage, the costs soon add up.

It’s key that you use the initial discovery time establishing the results you want. Forming a clear vision of what your app needs to achieve will make it much
easier for the developers to make suggestions and give advice in the early stages reducing iterations throughout development.

Need a More Accurate Quote?
An accurate enterprise app quote relies on so many different factors. Get in touch for your fast and free app proposal.

Chapter Six

Choosing an App Development Agency

We know that choosing a mobile app development company is no easy task. Choosing a great agency will help you achieve your business goals in a way that delights your users. Choose a bad one and you’ll end up with a barebones app that sits unused on the app store. 

But there are a few tips we can give you when it comes to weighing up your options.

Firstly, let’s look at what to avoid.

One red flag is any agency that’s willing to build you an app without talking to you about the strategy behind it first. We’ve already talked about the importance of enterprise mobility that supports your business goals. But there are so many companies out there that choose the wrong agency and end up with an enterprise app that their employees refuse to use. Don’t make the same mistake!

Noe you know what to avoid, here are five ways to compare app agencies:

  1. How well do they understand your business requirements?
  2. What previous work do they have to showcase? And what’s their team of app developers like?
  3. How is their pricing structured?
  4. What’s their approach to app development? What’s their process?
  5. How do they innovate?

Asking these questions early on will help you choose right. After all, enterprise app development is rarely just one phase. Over time, you’ll likely pinpoint more areas where mobile can make a positive impact. For this reason, it’s important to choose an app agency that you can see having a long-lasting relationship with. 

Tips for Choosing a Mobile App Development Company
We know that choosing a mobile app development company is no easy task. Here's how you can choose right.

Conclusion

If there’s one thing to take away from our enterprise application development guide, it’s the importance of proper planning! Getting a good mobile strategy in place before you begin is essential.

This is why we always begin every mobile app development project with an in-depth research phase. During this, we’ll research your business as well as your industry. This helps us to set realistic KPIs and outline your app’s success factors. This makes sure you see a return on your mobile investment.

With proper planning and a well-thought out mobile strategy in place, you can take advantage of everything that enterprise application development has to offer. Whether you’re looking to engage your employees, streamline your internal processes or increase your business efficiency. 

Any more Questions?

We hope this guide has given you an in-depth breakdown of the enterprise application development process and everything you need to consider. But if you’ve got any more questions, we’d be happy to help! Give us a call on 01737 45 77 88 or send us a message today.

About Us: Sonin App Development Agency

We’re Sonin, an app development agency with almost ten years of experience building bespoke business apps. In fact, we’ve been developing apps since the dawn of the smartphone. And today, we continue to develop smarter, more intelligent solutions using the very latest emerging technologies.

Above all else though, we don’t just build enterprise apps for the sake of it because we know that won’t provide you with a return on your investment. Instead, our enterprise app development process is built around ensuring mobile brings true value to both your business and your users. Here’s how we do it…

Your app needs to support your business, so we’ll help you approach the project strategically and work with you to define your key goals. We’ll research your industry and your competitors and apply our experience and technical expertise to advise on the best solution. This helps set realistic KPIs and outline app success factors in line with your business goals. We’ll also coordinate focus groups and conduct additional research for more specific requests.

Within the discovery phase, we explore your concept, initiate user groups and explore the value your app will bring to its users. We’ll also start the UX process by producing a set of user flows, which map the entire journey through the app. The flows show each screen and decision point the user will face. This highlights any potential roadblocks or issues the user might encounter whilst using your app, allowing us to put measures in place to ensure a smooth journey.

From the user flows we’ll create a set of wireframes for every screen within the app including all the data required on each screen. This is when we invite your team in for a workshop to run through everything together and give everyone a chance for feedback and discussions.

We build our wireframes on an interactive tool enabling your team to click through each screen as they would in the finished app to ensure that it functions as required. These will be sent to you to review in your own time, and you’ll get two rounds of amends.

Once approved, our designers will produce two to three key screens taking design direction from your corporate brand guidelines and send them over for initial feedback. If you don’t have brand guidelines we will put together a moodboard outlining our suggested direction for the app, before creating the key screens. Once the initial screens are approved, we’ll proceed to designing the rest of the app. You’ll get an additional two rounds of amends to ensure you are happy with the designs before we start building anything.

The build of the applications will take place simultaneously with our in-house team. The Android and iOS developers will work in unison to build both platforms. Once the app has been created and passed through our internal QA they will be sent over to you for review and further testing. After this there are two rounds of amends for any minor tweaks.

The first few months following the launch of your app are crucial, so we’ll monitor it closely. At the 3 month mark we’ll do a full performance review evaluating the apps’ success against your initial goals. We’ll then interpret the user analytics and suggest how the app can become a bigger success and be enhanced.

During the entire enterprise application development process, our in-house team of UK app developers will be on hand to ensure you achieve success. All of our developers and project managers are able to consider not just development but the business strategy behind every project. 

Do you need an enterprise app?

If you’ve got an enterprise app idea, or if you’re facing a key business challenge you think mobile could solve, then we’d love to hear from you. We’ve already helped hundreds of companies use mobile to transform their businesses.  And we’d love to help you too!

Are you thinking about enterprise application development?
If you're interested in using enterprise mobility to drive your business performance, then we can help!