November 11th, 2013

The key to successful mobile enterprise apps and how to avoid failing

Recent winner of the ME Awards 2013 for the “best enterprise app developer”, we share here with you our key to successful mobile enterprise apps and how to avoid failing. We also illustrated this blog with the ‘Surf or sink’ infographic with additional statistics. 

Thanks to the consumer app wave, in most organisations employees are already using enterprise apps in their everyday job whether the business supports it or not. Apps for scheduling, note taking, task lists, file sharing, document viewing and editing, surveys, maps, photos and more. The reality is that the nature of how employees work has forever changed (Forrester, 2013):

  • 29% of employees working anytime, anywhere
  • 53% of employees use 3 or more devices for work
  • 37% of employees work from 3 or more locations
  • 82% of employees use 7 or more apps for work

Having a savvy, always-connected workforce can be highly beneficial for organisations, but to truly leverage mobile technology the solution needs to be tailored for your employees and customers needs. Whether it’s deploying an out of the box solution, custom business applications or a hybrid of both, nothing should really stop you because Forrester is reporting that 90% of business will launch corporate apps by 2014. The main business driver is that success can result in:

  • Happier, more productive employees
  • Enhanced service quality and customer engagement
  • Improved content distribution and standardization
  • Replace of legacy hardware
  • Eliminate paper processes
  • Improved of provider visibility
  • Gathering real-time data and enhanced business intelligence

We have seen organisations with as few as 10 people invest over 100.000 USD in an enterprise app with a return on investment in less than a year. Unfortunately this is not the norm – Gartner states that 52% of enterprise apps fail to meet expectations. The good news is that Gartner also report that 34% meet expectations and 16% exceed them. In this blog we will talk about why so many organisations fail and what you need to do to succeed.

Why do so many mobile enterprise apps fail?

We believe there are 5 main factors:

1. Scoping and design not done correctly – The requirements tend to be based on an existing business process and a complex IT system simply gets mobilized.

2. Projects are too big – This might come as a surprise to some considering that developers normally complain that budgets are too small but 12 month IT projects normally fail as they are too long and complex.

3. Lack of focus on User Experience – Let’s be honest, most enterprise apps look terrible compared to their consumer app counterpart and therefore employees cannot and don’t want to use them. In fact, 64% of employees never or rarely use enterprise software because of its poor user experience (Lean Software, 2012).

4. Existing IT infrastructure does not support mobile services – Most organisations are still transitioning into cloud services, open APIs and functional security architecture, therefore they struggle to provide access to critical services.

5. Insufficient user involvement – The internal customers don’t get involved until the final delivery when it’s too late for user testing or feedback.

The steps to success
Success is a combination of learning from previous mistakes and following a structured process. Here’s a summary of DMI’s steps to success.

1. Evaluate how employees and the organisation as a whole use mobile technology today for work – Ask them what apps they are using, how they use e-mail, what works and what doesn’t work and how they collaborate with colleagues. Also ask them to tell you how they think mobile technology could help them in their daily work and what the barriers are.

2. Benchmark competitors and companies in adjacent industries – Although we don’t think anyone is perfect in this space it is always useful to learn and be inspired from others success. Stop, think and raise the bar.

3. Use case centric scoping – Forget about features to start with and identify the core use cases based on stakeholder interviews (Step 1 above). Walk through each use case including touch points (e.g. where the users will use the app and what will the environment be like – requirements on internet access, tablets or smartphones, rugged devices, etc).

4. Prioritise use cases based on opportunity size, cost and commonality – If the purpose of the enterprise app is to mobilise the sales team then look at how the identified use cases will help drive sales, increase productivity within the salesforce or increase customer satisfaction. Also assess the complexity of each use case. Integrating everything into an existing IT system might not be worth it in the first phase. Finally, look at how a specific use case can be reused across other parts of the business. Maybe it’s worth enabling an IT system if it can be leveraged by other teams.

5. Start small, deliver and then expand – Once you have a prioritised list of use cases, identify a Minimal Viable Product (MVP) to launch with. Start with something that is small and can be delivered in 3-4 months instead of spending 9 months developing a service which you then find out doesn’t live up to expectations. Build a roadmap, continue with the next phase as soon as the first is completed and continue to launch improvements in smaller increments based on user feedback.

6. Prioritise User Experience (UX) – Test, test and test. Involve the users of the application at every available opportunity. Test use cases before design starts, test the designs, start testing the application from the first functional spring and make sure that you have a process for including the user feedback throughout the development project. Successful enterprise apps are those that allow users to perform actions in the professional realm, as seamless as they do in the consumer world – User Experience is the backbone.

7. Set targets and create a business case – Now that we know what you want to do and in what order set, agree business success factors and key performance indicators (KPIs) for the project. Some examples are, number of active users, frequency of use, productivity increase and expected return of investment. Don’t forget to specify how to measure the results.

8. Choose the right development team – Internal team or existing trusted development partner? If you want to deliver on time and budget then make sure that the team are mobile specialists and that they have experience from similar projects. If you’re unsure then look for other partners. With User Experience and Design being so important make sure that the developers have a good track record of delivering beautiful and easy to use solution. Finally agree on the acceptance criteria with your development team before you start the project to ensure all stakeholders are focusing on the success factors of the project.

Avoiding the mistakes that will make you fail and following the tips above will position your enterprise to end up in the top 16% of apps that exceed expectations.

Please contact us if you have questions or comments about the content in this blog. To deep dive into the specifics of how to launch a successful business app for your company, register for a FREE 2-hour workshop with one of our enterprise app experts.

Tags: awards checklist Enterprise Apps forrester gartner

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