Identifying And Developing A Mobile App For The Enterprise

The First Stages Of A Mobile App Lifecycle

Steven Lerner

Mobile application lifecycle management for the enterprise is more complex than the traditional app lifecycle. Pew Research says that 95% of Americans own a mobile device, and many of them use these devices for work. Although many enterprises need to create public-facing mobile apps to customers, there is a growing need to provide mobile apps for an enterprise’s internal customers — its workers. The reason for creating a mobile app varies for each organization, but there is usually a common starting point that begins with the app identification and development.

Mobile App Identification

The lifecycle of a mobile app begins with an enterprise identifying the need for the app. Each enterprise will have a different need for an internal mobile app, and it is important to determine the need first so that an organization can set attainable goals. This need is sometimes referred to as a starting point.

Each enterprise should identify the specific interactions of the mobile app. Some enterprises use a mobile app to transfer interactions to any device at anytime. Other enterprises use the mobile app to improve the personalization of services or to leverage device functionality to scale services. Enterprises will have to identify the desired outcomes of the mobile app, such as increasing productivity, improving product innovation, or encouraging competitive leadership. It is imperative that the organization determines the business goal that the app will attempt to solve. Ideally, the enterprise app should provide efficiencies and create a competitive advantage.

At this stage, an enterprise should identify important components, such as employees, technology, business requirements, and important processes, including operations and control. This goes hand-in-hand with developing a mobile app strategy, which involves the reasons for creating the app, the kind of governance needed for it, security endeavors, and compliance considerations.

Once a strategy is in place, the enterprise should define all major requirements for the app. There should also be a determination about where to buy, develop, or integrate the app as whole. Some considerations about the platform should also be specified, including the mobile framework.

Mobile App Development

After an enterprise has identified and specified a mobile strategy, it is time to develop the architecture, or acquire technology, for app development. This entire step includes specifying the target development environment, integration, and synchronization with the back-end data, quality control, and testing.

During the development stage, enterprises typically undergo ideation, which is an iterative process with the end goal to validate ideas and develop a mockup or prototype. There are many tools in the marketplace that can be used to mockup or storyboard an app. In addition to a detailed design, there should be universal consensus in the organization about device functionality and backend integration. Organizations should also determine if the same development platforms will be used for every enterprise app.

Design is one of the most critical elements of mobile app development. An enterprise will have to harness UX designers who have deep knowledge and experience with mobile app design. There are also many marketplace tools that can be used for the design process.

In terms of architecture and tool selection, an organization will typically have to choose between cross platform or native development. This choice usually drives your selection of integrated development environment (IDE), which is a software application. Using a cross platform mobile application development tool can help save you a lot of time and money, as long as the UI of the app is updated to match each system. Once cross platform tools are determined, an organization should acquire Android and iOS developer accounts because Apple and Google have different licensing requirements.

Within enterprise application development, there are several user-friendly tools designed to help professionals create mobile apps quickly. These tools might speed up the development process for certain mobile apps. Sometimes referred to as no-code/low-code or rapid mobile application development (RMAD), these solutions help many enterprises keep up with the demand for mobile apps among workers. Enterprises that choose to use RMADS or other simple platform tools still need to manage the apps as they populate the mobile ecosystem.

The design process should involve research of apps that are similar to the one being created. Many enterprises contribute resources in this phase to benchmarking and generating use cases. Before the actual designing take place, there should be some conceptualizing done through sketches, screen hierarchies, and test flows for various scenarios. After designing is complete, an enterprise should try to refine and make changes.

As the architecture takes shape, an enterprise should check to see if there is a legacy system to integrate it with. The analytics for the mobile app, including crash reporting, should also be in place. It is very to ensure that a good user experience is incorporated. Although the app is not ready for deployment yet, the enterprise should at least determine if it will be distributed through the App Store or through mobile device management (MDM).

When the app is created, there is usually a bit of device testing. For many enterprise apps, this involves testing it on numerous devices. However, some enterprises might have more control over this process if it provides employees with corporate devices. Essentially, an enterprise can limit the app to only work on a specific device (usually the one that is provided by the company) and it can limit it to the latest versions of popular operating systems. An enterprise with a bring your own device (BYOD) approach lacks this control and will have to test for numerous devices and operating systems.

Identification and development are the first two steps in mobile app lifecycle management for the enterprise. These are many other steps to take before the mobile app can be released.