Summary: As businesses rush to build mobile apps, they often dive into the project without proper planning, or without an adequate understanding of their mobile app options. As you might imagine, this causes problems. It produces the wrong type of mobile app, or mobile apps that the company doesn’t really need–wasting time and money in the process. In this article, we cover the next few questions you should ask before creating your mobile business app.
In the first part of this article, we explored a couple of big problems with the current state of enterprise mobile apps.
First, studies find that 80% of enterprise mobile apps are abandoned after their first use.
Second, the average enterprise mobile app costs $271,000 to develop.
In other words, businesses are wasting hundreds of thousands of dollars on apps that get abandoned.
The big question: If your business is considering mobile apps, how can you avoid such a fate? It all starts with asking the right questions from the beginning. In the first article, we explored these 4 questions:
- Is your mobile app a “Vitamin” or a “Painkiller?”
- How does a mobile app support a higher level business goal?
- Will My Mobile App Produce a Compelling Experience that Only a Native App can Provide?
- What platform will we use?
Today, let’s take it a step further and explore more questions you must ask before building a mobile app for your business. Now, we can’t cover every remaining question in this article (as it is such a broad topic), so we’ll explore the last few questions in a future article. Sound good? Okay, here are 4 more questions to ask before building a mobile app for your business:
1. How do our potential users currently deal with the problem we’re trying to address?
With this question, you’re looking at existing competition. What similar apps already exist? What are users doing now?
If you’re releasing an app to the app store, this isn’t that hard to answer. How many apps like yours currently exist? How well are they received?
Now, what if you’re creating an app for internal use? The same questions still apply. What are your employees using now? How do they currently solve the problem that your app will solve?
Answering these questions are slightly more involved, as it requires conversations with the users. But, they are critically important. Understand what they need, what they’re currently doing, and what they wish they had. These questions go a long way towards a successful app.
“Depending on what the app’s purpose is like, whether it be for commercial gains, or for help with the enterprise structure, it can be important to define the current market for competitive apps already existing,” says Mark Pedersen, App Developer at Nodes. “This doesn’t have to do with monetized markets, however. When developing an enterprise app, it could be seen as a wise move to have an internal correspondence or dialog with the employees going to use the app, asking what they’d prefer to see in the app in terms of functionality and other valuable insights.”
2. Do we have the resources for this project?
“Over any extended period of time, things can change—more projects come into play, employees might leave, and costs could add up faster than expected,” says Katie Birkbeck, Senior Content Marketing Specialist at Blue Corona. “It’s important to sit down during the planning stages and determine whether you have the right team, budget, and other resources in place to get you from point A to point B—on time and on budget.”
Now, this might seem like an obvious question for any project. However, it’s especially important for mobile app development.
Why? Mobile app development is uncharted waters for many organizations. How do you know what resources you need?
The resources needed for the job depends largely on your answer to question #4 in the last article: What platform will we use?
For instance, if you’re building a native iOS app, you’ll need an Objective-C developer. If you’re building an Android app, you’ll need a Java developer. If you’re creating a mobile web app, you’ll need a mobile web developer. If you’re creating all of the above, you’ll need multiple developers. Of course, you’ll also need a designer, development tools, and more.
The problem is, very few companies have all of these resources at their disposal. That’s why question #3 from the last article is so important. Do you really need a native app? If the answer is “yes”, you will need far more resources than you need for a mobile web app.
3. How will this be updated and maintained?
The mobile app project doesn’t end when it’s rolled out to users. In fact, one could argue it’s just beginning.
After all, the first iteration of your application will not be perfect. Users will request changes, run into bugs, or suggest improvements. Then, the app must evolve over time. Even after initial changes are made, apps need regular maintenance and upgrades.
As explained below, mobile app development isn’t a one-time project. You’ll need to ensure you have the resources to maintain the application after the initial development.
“Do we have developers available after the initial development?,” asks Nic Grange, CTO, Retriever Communications. “What is going to happen when users request changes or when a new version of iOS or Android is released? How are we going to deploy this new version? How are we going to minimize the impact of the upgrade on users? When planning to develop an application, you not only need to plan for the initial development but also how the application will be maintained over its lifetime. With regular new releases of Apple’s iOS and Google’s Android operating systems, just because your application works today doesn’t mean it will continue to work tomorrow. Your team will need to anticipate new operating system releases and release compatible application versions prior to these being generally available in order to keep up.”
4. How do you plan to bring in users?
Back when the app store first rolled around, app marketing wasn’t a big issue. If you released an app to the app store, users would find it.
These days, that’s not the case. Apple states that the App Store now offers over 2 million apps, and that number is still growing.
The fact is, you can’t just build it and expect users to find your app. If it’s released to an app store, experts say that you’ll need an equal budget for development and marketing.
“Did you allocate a proper budget to market your app to give it a real chance to succeed?” asks Gilad Bechar, founder & CEO of Moburst. “And if you did – what marketing fields did you cover? “If you build it – they will come” – no they won’t! The mobile market nowadays is loaded with apps, and therefore building a loyal user base and retaining them has become nearly impossible. According to research, 80% of the apps won’t get more than 500 downloads. If this is not enough to make you think twice before jumping to this kind of adventure, check this out: only 25% of the users who have downloaded your app, will return for a second visit. With this in mind, in order to create an app with an actual chance for success, you MUST invest in App Store Optimization (ASO), media buying (including massive remarketing campaigns) and public relations. You should also keep monitoring and analyzing user behavior through analytics to keep developing and optimizing the app accordingly.”
Now, what if it’s an internal app? Can you just roll it out and expect employees to use it? Of course not. You’ll still need to dedicate resources getting the users excited about the app. If they don’t understand why they need it or how it will help them, do you really think they’ll use it? That’s why you need a plan for user adoption, even if you’re releasing an internal app.
These are just four questions you must ask before building an enterprise mobile app. Stay tuned, as we’ll cover more in an upcoming article. Would you add anything to this list? If you would like to add anything to this list, I’d love to hear it. Feel free to share in the comments.