“Apps don’t work for us”, says the head of sales for a major brand during a conversation at a mobility conference. He goes on to explain that he spent a year and a ton of money developing a mobile app for his sales team that nobody uses in the end.
Unfortunately this is not uncommon. The majority of custom enterprise app development projects actually fail. According to Forrester, 64% of employees rarely use enterprise software because of poor user experience.
This is usually how it goes.
The head of sales assigns one of his employees as a project owner to work with IT to define and propose a mobile app that will mobilize the sales team. The project owner puts together a requirement specification based on the systems currently in use on the PC and additional functionality available through mobile devices. The IT team adds the security, integration and non-functional requirements and then either finds a couple of developers internally that want to learn mobile development or in most cases creates a RFP together with procurement. After a couple of months of presentations and negotiations a vendor is selected based on cost, understanding of the businesses and previous experience or references. The vendor or internal team then goes off to design the app with approval from the project owner before development begins.
About 9-12 months later the app is finally launched after severe delays, technical integration issues and misunderstandings. The sales team is trained and everyone is excited about using mobile technology. 3 months later the head of sales asks for an update on the productivity gains from the new mobile app and finds out that most of the team have already stopped using it.
So what went wrong?
Here are a few of the key mistakes:
- The requirements weren’t based on insights, needs and use cases from the sales people
- The end users of the app were not involved during the scoping, design and development of the application
- Too many features were included in the first release which meant that development took much too long
- IT was put in charge of managing the project with the vendor or internal team despite having no prior experience of mobile app development
So what should you do to succeed?
We’ve published numerous blogs about this, including posts on delivering successful enterprise apps.
The key steps to succeed with enterprise apps are:
1. Define core use cases and not features based on the needs of the target group. Solve problems for them.
2. Test the use cases with the target users before even going to design. Ask them to give feedback and prioritise. Use this to make difficult decisions when scoping.
3. Take the top prioritised use cases and create wireframes and designs. Test the user experience with the end users of the app once again.
4. Define a first release/scope that won’t take more than 3 months of development from start to launch. Create a sprint plan based on this that will allow continuous releases and user feedback.
5. Include the end users during the development process to get feedback. Give them the first rough prototype with features and then continue to test to get feedback every 1-2 weeks. Change the sprint plan as required to accommodate the user feedback even if it means removing use cases from the initial scope. Read more about user testing including test cases here.
6. Once the first release is completed, launch it as a pilot with a smaller use group to get feedback and optimize. Make sure you plan for development resources to continue after the release.
7. Rollout the app to everyone, gather more feedback on usage, productivity and usability and go back to (1) above to continue to enhance and improve with all the other great use cases you want to cover.
We guarantee that this will work. Now you can sit back and relax for a few minutes and brag about how successful your app project and hopefully generate 10 times ROI.