8 Questions to Ask When Developing an Enterprise Mobile App

Woman holding a smartphone and writing on a note pad.

If you’re wondering how to create a successful enterprise mobile app for your company, chances are you have already read up on how an app can fuel your business’s growth.

But, in case you haven’t, here are some of the major benefits you can expect to see if your company creates a mobile app for their internal operations:

  • Increased employee engagement
  • Improved productivity
  • Better access to data and information
  • Higher customer satisfaction

Once you’ve decided that the time is ripe for an internal-facing app, you’ll want to ask yourself these eight questions. If you can answer these with ease, you can rest assured that the creation and implementation of your enterprise app will be a smooth success.

1. Do we really need this system to be in the form of an app?

The biggest pitfall of enterprise mobile apps is building one needlessly. The app is either better suited as a website (or other platform) or it’s the wrong app and doesn’t solve the correct issue.

You don’t want to invest your hard-earned money and great amounts of time into creating an app that your employees find useless. So before you start development, do some research to identify exactly what problem your app needs to solve and how it can best address that opportunity.

Talk to your employees and any other key stakeholders. Pay close attention to the opinions of those who will be using the app most frequently. Getting their buy-in early on will ensure that your team is enthusiastic about the project and invested in making it a success.

Take a look at your current tech stack. Is it spiraling out of control? Make sure your app won’t be tossed onto an over-large pile of it-seemed-like-a-good-idea-at-the-time technologies. On average, 37% of a company’s software goes unused.

If you’re already paying for tech that does what you want your app to do, then it’s possible your time could be better spent learning how to use your out-of-the-box solution.

If now isn’t the right time for a mobile app, that’s okay! Bookmark this page and come back when you’re ready.

In the meantime, check out parts 1, 2, 3, and 4 of our Future of Mobile Strategy series highlighting the top four profit-driving use cases for native mobile technology.

If it is the right time, then let’s get started!

2. Are we designing this app with the best practices in mind?

The perfect design balances functionality and beauty flawlessly. While functionality should be your top design priority, beauty is the key to connecting with your audience - in this case, your employees.

Mindgrub Graphic Designer Mariko Sakemi suggests following these six steps to product design:

  1. Focus on the main goal
  2. Cut out everything that’s unnecessary
  3. Make sense
  4. Consider hierarchy
  5. Maintain balance
  6. Entice the audience

Read more on these steps and how they make things easier for the user in Mariko’s blog, 6 Steps to Effective Design.

It’s also critically important to examine your enterprise app for accessibility. 15% of the world’s population has a disability. To put that into perspective, if you have 100 employees, 15 of them could be living with some form of disability that impacts the way they interact with the digital world.

Accessibility is achieved through both user experience and technical development. Four critical areas to consider are:

  1.  Color contrast
  2. System font sizing
  3. Screen readers' ability to do their job
  4. Switch Control (iOS) and Switch Access (Android)

By balancing beauty, function, and accessibility, you’ll be sure to have something that all of your employees will want to use on a regular basis.

3. Speaking of design, does our app's appearance align with our brand?

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: consistent. branding. is. crucial.

Your visual branding elements help you connect to your audience - and your employees are an essential segment of your audience.

If you want them to be true representatives of your brand, incorporate your brand’s values into everything you do. Consistency within your company translates to consistency in the external market.

4. How are you shaping the user experience?

You wouldn’t send out a resume without proofreading it first, so why would you roll out a new mobile app without conducting user testing? Your user’s experience with your work - whether it’s a resume or a mobile app - heavily impacts their sentiments about that work.

A poor experience will leave users thinking the system itself is inadequate.

User testing takes an in-depth look at factors that could be crippling your user experience. Through live testing, you can identify user pathways that are not as clear as you originally believed, uncover content organization that confuses people, and unveil a myriad of other issues that could potentially reduce conversion and retention.

For the nitty-gritty details on conducting user testing, hop over to this guide to usability testing.

If, post-launch, user testing is difficult to conduct regularly, your analytics offer high-level insight into your application’s user experience.

Keep an eye out for warning signs of poor user experience, like the ones listed here. If you see some patterns in where users pause or abandon their journey altogether, you may want to conduct another round of user testing to uncover the source of the issue.

5. Are we establishing and testing app security? 

Your response to this question needs to be YES. Enterprise apps often store critically important, proprietary data (including personal information about your employees and/or clients).

If you don’t want to lose your proprietary data to hackers, you need to set up strong security measures and you need to test them regularly to make sure they’re working.

A 2018 benchmark analysis by NowSecure found that of the 45,000 mobile apps reviewed, 85% violated at least one of the OWASP’s top 10 security threats.

Mindgrub CTO Jason Michael Perry has covered the topic in great detail in an article on mobile app security, which includes 6 common misconceptions about mobile security and tips for avoiding data disaster.

6. How will we get employees on board?

Hopefully you’ve been consulting with your employees from the start. After all, this app is for them, and you don’t want it to become part of that 37% of tools that companies invest in, but don’t use regularly.

Regardless, you’re going to need a plan for getting the word out. Send out an internal press release announcing your new enterprise mobile app and why it’s beneficial. Announce it in your internal newsletter or at your company-wide meeting. Do what works best for your company.

For more suggestions about how to get the word out, try these 44 Ways to Promote Your Mobile App.

Whatever communication method you choose, you’ll want to include an educational component, like an instructional video series or a dedicated training session to teach employees about the app’s purpose.

Think back to your first day on the job: Someone likely walked you through each item in your company’s tech stack, explaining their purpose and how to use them. Rolling out an enterprise app should be no different.

Awareness and education will ensure your app’s launch is a success.

7. How will we provide employees the opportunity to offer feedback? 

You are making this app for them. Doesn’t that mean their opinions matter the most?

Offer a way for your users to share feedback or ideas for improvement. If you are working with an app store, prompt employees to leave reviews there. If not, select a point of contact and encourage employees to reach out to that person with their thoughts.

Better yet, create a simple form that allows them to leave anonymous - and likely more truthful - evaluations of your internal app’s performance.

Finally, acknowledge that you’ve received their feedback and show them how you will act on them in the future. Once employees understand that their feedback matters, they’ll be more likely to share their ideas.

8. How will we maintain the app?

Before you celebrate the completion of your enterprise app, you’ll want to make sure you have a support system in place.

Decide who will be responsible for monitoring for bugs, ongoing security, fixing anything that breaks, and making regular updates.

If you don’t have the manpower to handle any surprise problems, you should consider outsourcing to a trusted Managed Services Provider.

*Bonus question* Should we invest in an enterprise app store?

Planning to make more mobile applications for your business operations? Consider constructing an enterprise app store.

An enterprise app store is a portal which allows your employees to download your internal apps and any third-party company-approved applications. The rise of remote work and bring-your-own-device policies make a strong case for an enterprise app store.

“An intuitive native mobile application that solves an internal business problem or bridges an efficiency gap can be a powerful tool.” - Vincent Sharps, Mindgrub’s EVP & Chief Business Officer.

Viola! If you jotted down the answers to these eight* questions (and we suggest you do!),  you now have the beginnings of a well-laid plan to create a mobile app your internal team is sure to adore (and one that won’t fall into that unused 37%).

Ready to build the enterprise app of your dreams, or looking to discuss your options with a team of experts? Let us know how we can help.