The head of sales for a major brand says “Apps don’t work for us” during a conversation at a mobility conference. He explains that he and his team spent 12 months and lot of money developing a mobile app for the sales team yet discovered that nobody is using it.
Unfortunate but not unique, that is how it normally goes since most custom enterprise app development projects actually fail. Forrester confirms this by stating that 64% of employees rarely use enterprise software because of a poor user experience.
Let’s have a closer look at what usually happens.
The head of sales assigns an employee as project owner to sync with the IT team to help define the mobile app that will help improve productivity of the sales team. The project owner starts by putting together a list of requirements mostly based on the systems that are in use on the PC at the time, adding some functionality that he or she perceives can come with the mobile device. The IT team adds the integration, security and non-functional requirements before looking for developers. This can be a group of internal developers wanting to learn more about mobile development or, as in most cases, they create a RFP working with procurement folks. After a few months of presentations and negotiations they select a vendor based on cost, previous experience or references and understanding of the business. The external or internal development team then kicks off the design of the app with approval from the designated project owner before development starts.
Around 9 to 12 months later the app is finally launched after overcoming multiple challenges in regards to technical integration issues and misunderstandings combined with several delays. The sales team has received training and they are all excited about using mobile technology. After 3 months the head of sales asks for an update on the productivity gains from the new app and finds out that most of the team members have already stopped using it.
So what went wrong? Following are a few of the key mistakes that were most likely made:
- The project requirements were not based on the sales team’s insights, needs and use cases
- The end users were not involved during the scoping, design and development of the app. More critically, no prototyping with increasing level of functionality and getting feedback from the users on the interface and usability was not during the design phase.
- There were too many features included in the first release that meant that development took much too long
- The IT department was put in charge as project managers despite the fact they didn’t have any prior experience of mobile app development.
So what could you do differently to succeed?
We’ve published numerous blogs and whitepapers around delivering successful enterprise apps. The key steps to succeed are:
1. Define the core use cases for the end users and help solve problems for them.
2. Test all use cases with the end users before even going to design. Ask for feedback and help to prioritize. You can then use these insights to help you in tough decisions when scoping.
3. Create wire-frames and designs for the top prioritized use cases. Test the user experience with the end users.
4. Define an initial scope that will not require more than 3 months of development from start to launch. Basing your sprint plan around this will allow for continuous releases and user feedback.
5. Include the end users during the development process to get more feedback. Provide them with a first rough prototype with features and then continue to test to get feedback on a biweekly basis. Adapt the sprint plan as needed to accommodate the user feedback (even if it means removing use cases from the initial scope).
6. After the first release is completed, launch it as a pilot with a smaller test group to optimize even further. Make sure to plan for development resources to continue working even after the release.
7. Roll out to everyone, gather more feedback on usage, productivity and usability and go back to point 1 to continue enhancing and improving the app with all the other use cases you want to include.
We guarantee that this will work. Sit back, relax and brag about how successful your app project was. And hopefully it will help generate 10 times your ROI as mentioned in our previous blog or feel free to contact us.
– Magnus Jern, President of Mobile Application Solutions