Developing an app for business use cases isn’t as simple as developing for consumers. Enterprise apps are focused towards bringing operational efficiencies. The business to business (B2B) app development can be done for the organization itself or it can be for selling it to other businesses. In both of these cases, the process and thought behind the business app development will be very similar.
Enterprise app development to bring efficiencies within the organization will be a lot easier and quick as compared to building a B2B application for reselling to many businesses. For the first case, the requirements are clear but for the latter one, there will be complexities in development as each business will have its different set of requirements.
Common mistakes Business make while Developing B2B mobile Apps
The mobile app market is huge and businesses can easily get caught up in the hype of enterprise mobile applications. It seems sensible to reach thousands if not millions of business users who already are utilizing smartphone technologies. Thus, many businesses want to offer mobile apps for their existing desktop version applications. Up till now, we’ve seen many enterprise mobile apps failing due to many reasons. Here are some of the common mistakes that businesses make while developing the enterprise mobile apps:
- Many businesses fall into a trap of building a swiss army knife app. One app for all the problems, which is intended to trump all of the other applications on the market, by solving all of the problems faced in a particular industry vertical or business domain. The truth is that lack of focus on such B2B app development results in a business app that can’t solve any problem effectively. In many cases, too many functionalities and options make the app confusing to use and less intuitive.
- Many times, the business mobile app developers design only one UI/UX for all the mobile platforms. The reason behind this is to reduce the development time and cost and fasten the go to market time. Android and iOS users have different UI/UX habits and expectations, and that needs to be taken into consideration. Most of the design elements for both of the platforms will usually remain the same, such as the colour scheme, icons and the general layout of the screen. Therefore, creating two separate designs won’t require much development time and resources. However the layout and alignment of the designs should ideally take into consideration the platforms they are operating on.
- Another issue is sometimes the app created doesn’t solve any meaningful problem. It is to be kept in mind that the app you create will be competing with a flood of useful mobile apps. So, if you want people to use your app, you need to fully address the real problem.
Step-Wise Enterprise App Development Recommendations
1. Define your Concept
Sometimes an application that looks innovative and groundbreaking in theory may turn out to be useless in practice. It happens when you forget to brainstorm on the basic purpose of the business mobile app in the early stages of the process. An enterprise app idea is only useful when it really solves a real-world business problem.
Will my application solve a real world challenge that an organization is facing? What are the characteristics of the stakeholders that will use my application? Questions like these will help you define your enterprise app’s core concept. To begin with defining the concept of your app, you can use the following set of questions samples:
- What is the purpose of the app?
- What do you want to achieve as an outcome by developing your app?
- What core features will the app incorporate?
- How will the user use the app?
- Will your target customer (User) find your app useful?
2. Understand the user base
In order to help the end user of the app, you need to understand how they work. You will need to research to know your customer’s goals, roles and responsibilities, and technical preferences. The following set of questions can help you know the user base effectively:
- What are the characteristics of the users and what problems do they face?
- Currently, how they are addressing the problem your app is intended to solve and why would they use your app only?
- What other related problems do they face in their day to day job that your app can address?
- Know the existing technological infrastructure that the organizations are using i.e. operating systems, browsers, mobile devices, and networks.
While analyzing the end users you also shall start working on your marketing communication strategies. It will also be useful to test the business potential of your app idea. You can connect with your potential end-users via forums and other online channels. It is recommended to build an MVP (Minimum Viable Product) first and then collect feedback. Based on the feedback you can build the final version of your enterprise mobile app.
3. Conduct Market Research
As stated earlier, checking the app’s business potential is very crucial. One part of this is analysing the market and this starts with the competitor’s analysis. You need to have a list of high – low performing apps that are based on similar ideas as yours.
- What are the types of similar apps available in the market?
- How do they attract the customers and solve the problems?
- What are their marketing strategies and communications?
- How do they leverage the existing IT infrastructure at various organizations?
A lot of time is required to do the competitor analysis. Having a good chunk of time will allow you to analyse more competitors, which will help you distinguish your app from the others on the market. You can also learn from their strategies and tactics. Analysing their apps will help you understand various platform’s interface paradigms.
4. Set defined Goals for App
For every B2B mobile app development, planning the specific goals for the app is a crucial stage. A full proof plan will keep your team on the right track and help you know the go-to-market time.
- Will the app provide more support to the existing business processes?
- Will the app solve some specific business problems?
- Is the app intended to create a new revenue stream for businesses?
It is certain that you might also be aiming for other goals other than just one primary one. The recommendation here is to set and priorities your goals before beginning with the development phase. Prioritising will be crucial for an agile and flexible development process which adapts the market changes and will help you launch the app as soon as possible.
5. Find value Proposition
As discussed earlier, an enterprise app with a good concept always includes either a solution to a specific problem or will create new revenue streams for the business. The benefits should be tempting enough to motivate the users to download your app and then keep using it.
To do this, you will need to offer a unique value proposition with the app. These values can be accessed to certain features that aren’t available elsewhere or a low cost for the similar service offered by your competitors at a higher price. The value proposition can include but aren’t limited to:
- Improving employee efficiency
- Support sales activities and boost the revenues
- Managing customer loyalty programs
- Getting meaning out of the customer data
- Provide support for improved employee satisfaction
6. Create refined App Flowchart
This is the stage where you start realizing the app idea. You can create a simple and concise presentation that states what the app will do and how the development team will make that happen.
An ideal flowchart will include:
- The app’s concept, features, and workflow
- The budget and deadlines
- Development process milestones
- Detailed human resource requirement
7. Design App Wireframes
It is good to keep things as visual as efficiency permits. For example, sketching all the screens of the app will help creators design the best possible user interface and experience. It will give your development team much more clarity into the app functionality and appearance.
Engaging with the business domain experts will help you create the best user flows for the wireframe. The market is flooded with many wireframing and prototyping tools that will help you visualise your app idea. Here are some of the top ones:
8. Run Technical feasibility Analysis
You may be developing the B2B app in house or you may be hiring consultants as you don’t have the technological expertise. For your B2B app, you might opt for some features that look simple on the paper but require an unexpected amount of time and resources. Building such features will increase the cost of enterprise app development which results in slower ROI (Return on Investment).
Before finalizing any crucial features, you should discuss the technical feasibility and associated cost and risk with your in-house development experts or any external technology partner. Sometimes, it is feasible to use a much more simple feature instead of an advanced one.
While discussing technical feasibility, make sure you cover the following points:
- Device and platform capability
- Cost of the particular feature development
- Risk associated with the feature integration
- Maintenance and support requirements for the solution
Based on the technical feasibility analysis, you’ll be able to establish the app’s technical requirements, refine your development plan, and adjust your budget accordingly.
9. Set defined KPIs
While this may seem early to consider metrics in an early stage of the enterprise app development, actually, this is the right time to think about incorporating metrics within your app to measure the app’s success. These will be your Key Performance Indicators (KPIs).
It can be easy for you to watch your app grow while making assumptions about how it is actually performing. Measuring the KPIs cannot be done by making assumptions. You should implement good quality analytics in your app that will help you get the insights that you need.
If you aren’t sure of what to measure, here is a list of options for a good start:
- Customer Onboarding volume
- Transactions volume and revenues
- Customer retention
- Brand recognition and customer loyalty
- Infrastructure capabilities to support large traffic volumes
When you’re (along with a team of consultants if possible) done defining the KPIs for the app, it will depend on the development team to figure out the best way to implement those KPIs. Many third-party monitoring tools such as Firebase are available in the market which track the number of users, sessions, screen views, etc. Using such third-party default KPIs won’t get you useful insights. The recommended approach is to develop and incorporate custom KPI tracking solutions that are specific to your enterprise app.
10. Create a Realistic Marketing Plan
It is obvious that marketing is crucial for your enterprise app’s success. But a common misconception is that there is no value in marketing your app idea before you’ve developed the application. A great marketing plan proves this misconception wrong. You should create excitement among users for your app, get user preferences and recommendations to mature your concept.Take a step forward to reach the market before your competitors get there. Doing it right will earn you a community of early adopters and help you leverage word-of-mouth marketing.
For a full-proof marketing plan, you will also need to include PR, branding, and web presence in it. Here are some aspects of an effective marketing plan:
- Branding strategy should include the app name, logo, colour scheme, and communication tone. The challenge here will be to set yourself apart from the competition and at the same time attract the right audience.
- Marketing communication strategy will require you to determine the best practices to reach to your target audience. The marketers will also need to find out the type of content that should be communicated.
There is a huge list of considerations while planning to develop an enterprise mobile app. The considerations and recommendations stated in the article were the common ones that can help you throughout your B2B app development journey. It is important to make sure that your app is a solution to a specific business problem, otherwise there is no point creating the app.
If you don’t have in-house technical experts, you should opt for looking for a good technical partner that has extensive experience in business app development.