With a myriad of different stages involved and a wide variety of different factors to consider, saying that enterprise mobile application development can be confusing is undoubtedly a little bit of an understatement.
So much of this comes down to the fact that the definition of “success” varies wildly depending on the project. What is your app supposed to do? Who is it for? What are you trying to enable those end users to do that they can’t do right now? Is this a legitimately easier method to complete a task than what is currently available? The answers to all of these questions matter a great deal.
However, for as fluid as the process can be, thankfully, the structure at the heart of it all is relatively straightforward. If you genuinely want to make sure that your next app is ready for prime time, so to speak, there are just a few key things you need to keep in mind.
The Discovery Stage, or: Enterprise Software Development Begins
One of the most critical parts of enterprise software development is also the one that, unfortunately, far too many people overlook. The discovery stage is about more than just “figuring out where you’re headed.” It’s about defining not only the ultimate goals of your app but also the problems it is supposed to solve and what your end users expect it to do.
When you devote the appropriate amount of attention to the discovery stage, you not only help avoid problems associated with scope creep due to improper planning – you help avoid imminent failure, as well.
Overall, the goal of the discovery stage is to:
- Help you and your colleagues define the project from the point of view of a project manager.
- Proactively identify and risks or dependencies that the project might have.
- Formulate not only a realistic time estimate for the project but a cost estimate as well.
The discovery stage itself has several critical sections, which include ones like:
- Ideation. This stage is where you not only get an idea but further refine that idea into a tangible vision for the larger project. Here is where you begin with a problem faced by you or your company, then work your way back to the idea for an app that A) solves that problem, and B) has the potential to be profitable in the long run.
- Position your app for success. Next, you’ll want to analyze your competition to essentially see what apps they already offer that you can learn from and improve upon.
- Target audience research. If you want to design the best possible app for a specific group of people, it stands to reason that you need to know as much about that group as possible. Break down your target audience into useful metrics like age, gender, location, and even hobbies – then learn as much as you can about their behavioral patterns, too.
- Monetization. This is where you determine how, specifically, you will “get paid” for your work. Will you be crowdfunding your app? Is it operating on a freemium model? Are people going to be purchasing the app, or are you working with sponsorships or even ads? Here is where you decide this important element before work begins in earnest.
At that point, you’ll also need to define the MVP or “minimum viable product.” The MVP is essential because it can be a great way to solicit customer feedback. Based on everything your end users are telling you about the minimum viable product, you can make changes and revisions to subsequent iterations to make the finished product that much better.
The Design Process: The User Experience and User Interface
If you had to make a list of all the elements that go into someone’s initial opinion about your app, user experience, and user design would be right at the top. As a designer, you want to make sure that when someone opens your app, everything is laid out in a way that allows those end users to know everything they need intuitively. They should know where they need to click to perform which actions and the overall experience should be an enjoyable one.
In an effort to create a better user experience, consider performing tasks like:
- Designing your information architecture based around the needs of the end users.
- Wireframe your app to make sure that design is as intuitive as you think it is.
- Create a functional prototype to put the design through its paces.
- Solicit feedback as often as humanly possible and act on the insight you get because of it.
To develop a better visual design, you will also perform steps like:
- Create style guides so that every member of your team is on the same page.
- Develop a rendered design so that you can see everything in as much detail as possible.
- Develop a rendered click-through design so that you can again make sure the functionality is as straightforward as your end users need it to be.
The Technical Aspects of Your Enterprise Mobile App
Once you’ve completed these steps, you’ll need to decide HOW you’re going to be bringing your vision into reality. As you move onto the high-level technical design elements, you and your team will be deciding on a programming language, a development approach, and on any suitable technologies necessary for the app itself.
You have a few key options available to you here, including things like:
- Platform-specific native apps. This is where you would decide on a platform for your app – either iOS or Android – and then build your finished product exclusively with that platform in mind.
- Cross-platform native apps. While you would lose some of the advantages present in a truly native app, this is mostly considered to be the most cost-effective way to get the job done – which can be especially helpful if you’re on a limited budget.
- Hybrid apps. These are apps that are compatible with all devices and operating systems, which may be a requirement depending on your end users. The significant benefits of this approach include not only cost-effectiveness but also portability and the ability to quickly deploy an MVP as well.
These are all of the front-end decisions you’ll need to make during this phase. On the back-end side of things, you’ll need to create a server that effectively communicates with the front-end. This will require you to make decisions regarding the programming language you’ll be using, your database and data structures, and hosting considerations.
The Road to Development: Getting the Work Done
Generally speaking, the best approach for mobile app development will be a sprint or agile methodology. This further breaks down the actual development part of the process into a series of stages that include planning, development, testing, and review.
- Planning. You understand where you’re headed – now it’s time to figure out how you’re going to get there. Break down all of the tasks you need to complete into a series of smaller, more manageable chunks that you can then assign to individual developers.
- Development. This is where you begin to implement the actual, raw functionality of the app. Once implementation is complete, the app is then assigned to a project manager or QA tester for review.
- Testing. This is where you put the app through its proverbial paces, subjecting it to a wide range of real-world scenarios and use cases to determine what is working well and, more importantly, what isn’t. Testing early and often not only helps to stop small problems now before they become much bigger ones down the road – it also minimizes the final costs of the project, too.
- You’ll also need to perform a battery of different tests for the best results, including but not limited to usability testing and user acceptance testing, device-specific testing, performance testing, functionality testing, and more.
- Review. Once testing is completed, you can review all the data you’ve collected and make any last minute changes deemed necessary before you officially move onto deployment.
Deployment: The Road Goes Ever Onward
At this point, you can begin to focus your efforts on deployment. In other words, this is where you get your app into the hands of your end users.
For the absolute best results here, you’ll need to be mindful of important ideas like:
- Well defined release cycles.
- Continuous deployment (how are you going to update your app moving forward?).
- Developer certifications.
- Hosting environments.
- App features.
- Web API (server) and more.
Keep in mind, however, that the process doesn’t end once your enterprise mobile app has been deployed. In many ways, it’s only just beginning. You will still need to monitor the performance of your app moving forward, identifying opportunities for continuous improvement so that you can capitalize on them as quickly as possible.
Just a few of the things that you and your team should continue to monitor include but are not limited to ones like:
- Start time and resume times.
- Crashes and their causes.
- User interface response times.
- Any analytics you have access to.
- Technical performance.
- App store management.
- Battery consumption, especially as it relates to specific devices that users own and are interacting with.
- Cellular data consumption.
By continuing to focus on elements like these, you can regularly release updates that make your app better – and that continues to satisfy your end users further as well. That in and of itself is what this was all about, so it’s in your own best interest to make this a priority.
If you’d like to find out more information about taking your Android app development services to the next level, or if you’d just like to discuss what the right mobile app development company partner can do for your organization in a bit more detail, please don’t delay – contact us today.