A Guide to Enterprise App Design and Development
Enterprise-grade software has progressed to a point where nearly all organizations and businesses depend on it to stay competitive in the marketplace. It doesn’t matter if you’re a non-profit that needs to keep track of donors or an auto dealership looking for better inventory management. Mobile enterprise apps offer an unprecedented amount of flexibility and functionality for companies.
This blog will explore key areas of consideration in the design and development of an app using a hypothetical example from the perspective of an enterprise client.
Understanding your needs when it comes to developing enterprise software is essential to ensure a viable and beneficial solution for your company. If you haven’t already, consider answering the following questions before doing further research:
- What is the primary goal of the app?
- Do I have a full list of requirements?
- Is there additional integration with other existing systems?
- Who is the end user of the applications?
- What platform(s) should it support?
Thoroughly vetting these questions upfront will also help your company enhance the process of choosing the right software development company. With a complete understanding of what your project entails and your end needs, experienced developers will be able to add additional insight and help identify alternative solutions to enhance your project.
Company Needs & Capabilities
Imagine you’re a regional wholesale food distributor. The company wants to create an app that allows its customers to interface directly with their sales team, process orders, and track the status of previous orders. Having noticed many competitors in the market starting to adopt custom software to handle similar situations, the company is looking to develop a competitive app that will give their customers unique and enhanced functions to simplify their day-to-day tasks.
Knowing the company doesn’t have the in-house capabilities to take on such a project, they have determined the most viable solution is to outsource the project. Outsourcing a project can provide many benefits to a company when working with the right partner. When considering your options, look for the following qualities in the development company:
- Project Familiarity
- Estimation and Design Process
- Development Approach
- QA & Testing Process
- Post-launch Support Services
There are numerous approaches that companies take when it comes to software development. Researching and knowing the benefits of each and how they relate to your project play a crucial role in understanding cost estimates and the working relationship. Development models can include, but are not limited to lean development, scrum development, or agile software development. In this case, the company has assigned a dedicated in-house project manager or VP responsible for overseeing the development project, but requires they frequently report status updates to other key individuals. Looking at developers running an agile development approach would provide the company the ability to develop the app in iterations with weekly or monthly updates based on pre-determined milestones. This would allow for detailed updates throughout the process and the opportunity for feedback as needed along the way. It also allows the in-house manager to present frequent updates to other individuals within the company on a regular basis.
UI/UX design documentation is one of the most important steps in the app development process. Your company has decided that the user interface doesn’t need to be a flashy affair, forgoing transition animations and extensive art resources. Instead, you’re opting for a straightforward utilitarian interface that, while easy to use for customers and employees, emphasizes efficiency. Even with a simple design, take the time to put together user flows and wireframes illustrating the key functions of the app and associated functions of each action. Preparing this before speaking with outside developers, allows both you and the developer to discuss functions and alternative solutions based on the UI/UX documentation.
Having the document outlined also allows for a more accurate estimating process. This way both you and the developer are on the same page as to what costs are in relation to app functions and have a clear timeline for development deliverables.
With a variety of platform options including iOS, Android, Windows Phone, or Hybrid, assessing what platform will meet your project needs plays an essential role in the success of your app. Look at key platform attributes like functionality capabilities, audience and reach, cost and time to market, and ease of maintenance.
Let’s assume for our example purposes your Food Distribution company wants to enable their employees and customers to run the app on their iOS devices. Writing native software for iOS hardware allows the app to access the device’s hardware at a low level, expanding its functionality. iOS also provides unique capabilities for scalability and setup for the company that will help create greater integration across the companies’ entire digital ecosystem. Developing for iOS, the company can leverage Apples automation process to streamline repeat behaviors and enhance connectivity and security. As such, an app developed for iOS will be available as needed and become a functional and accessible component of an employees’ toolkit across multiple iOS devices.
Native apps also run more efficiently and faster than their hybrid and web-based counterparts. Utilizing Swift programming language, native iOS development allows the app to access core components of the hardware and software for enhanced functions, security, and performance. In the end, this will provide a robust piece of software that can continue to grow after initial development ends.
One function that the companies’ end users and clients frequently request is a way to integrate their smart-device barcode scanners into the ordering process.
Integrating this into the app, will allow their customers and employees to be able to scan barcodes to query an inventory count or order more of a particular product SKU through the Smart-device scanners. To do this, the app will need to integrate directly with smart-device scanner hardware and allow it to interact and transfer data within the application and databases. There will also be additional information needed to account for various product manufacturers, SKU’s, and unique barcodes on the backend of the app. This functionality, while it seems basic in nature, requires extensive development to allow for the recognition and processing of data within the app. However, planning for features like this from the start allows developers to create a clear roadmap of how to integrate and develop.
When thinking about app development, backend functionality is often one of the most overlooked components of an app. While, the final finished product may be what the consumer or end user interacts with, for most apps, and enterprise apps especially, there are robust backend systems designed to manage core functions of the app.
The key function of your app will be its ability to receive new orders from clients and track orders that are being processed. Thankfully, your company already has the server infrastructure in place to manage the data for the ordering process. However, the ordering process can be slow, data can be segmented and difficult to manage for sales, fulfillment, and billing. Having this in place is a benefit for development, as specialized connectors can be written for the app that will interface directly with your servers. While there may be additional requirements needed, having a system in place may help shorten development time, as a backend system does not need to be built from scratch to support the data management.
Because of the extensive planning that went into the design document, the development company can transition smoothly into active development. Through clear milestones and sprint cycles, the client can analyze the progress of the app, as well as give feedback to the development team along the way. The final result is a powerful piece of software that provides the client with value and can fundamentally transform the way they do business.
Designing and implementing a successful enterprise app hinges on creating a detailed plan around your needs and working with knowledgeable, experienced developers. As a proven leader and innovator in the enterprise app development industry, Zco Corporation has reliably delivered high-quality enterprise software to start-ups and Fortune 500 companies alike. If you’re exploring creating custom software for your business or organization, contact us today and receive a free consultation and quote. We’re ready to work with you.