Nowadays, there is no shortage of stories about how enterprise apps streamline operations, boost productivity, and bring all sorts of great benefits for businesses. A less often mentioned fact is that the development and deployment process of such apps is quite challenging. In fact, a poorly developed app can actually reduce the performance of your team, costing up to 32 workdays per year. In this article, we’ll examine the most common enterprise mobile app development challenges to help you avoid pitfalls and achieve success.
Defining Enterprise Apps
Before we proceed to the challenges, let’s look at what is enterprise app development and how it is different from the consumer-grade approach. As the name suggests, these apps are intended mostly for businesses and organizations. They mainly fall into two categories, termed as customer-facing and employee-facing apps. The goal of the former is to deliver services to the end user whereas the latter are intended for process optimization and streamlining of operations.
The requirements to consumer-facing apps are more or less straightforward, having to deal mostly with the quality of service and convenience one would expect from any sort of product. Employee-facing apps are a different story. First, they are expected to access critical data such as corporate databases, so security and confidentiality are of utmost priority. Second, they have to be tightly integrated with other software in the organization to avoid technical issues. Third, these apps sometimes fall under their own sets of regulatory requirements. In other words, mobile app development for enterprise demands expertise that is difficult to find among consumer-grade specialists.
Vision and Goals
One of the least obvious challenges that should be addressed in the first place is the alignment of the application’s purpose with business objectives and the goal you are aiming to achieve. The Internet is full of illustrious articles that depict enterprise solutions as a miracle that can solve every single problem and double your revenues in the process. While not wrong, these claims can certainly contribute to unreasonable outcomes.
Moreover, enterprise mobile app development is a costly process and often requires significant changes in the business operations, which also take a toll on your resources. This means you can end up with an excellent product that drains your budget and still doesn’t do any good for your company.
What Can Be Done?
Before reaching out to enterprise app development services, stop and think about what you actually need the app for. What is the problem you are trying to solve? Are there reasons to believe the software solution will do it? Also, be sure to communicate your goals to the team you are partnering with so that you are on the same page in terms of vision.
Strictly speaking, employee-facing enterprise apps are a massive liability when it comes to corporate security. On the one hand, they are expected to have access to proprietary databases and other sensitive information. On the other hand, they offer relatively easy access to it that, in many cases, is managed by employees individually. There are numerous entry points for malicious actors or even unintended leaks, including:
- Weak data encryption
- Insecure networks
- Certificate underpinning
- Credentials leaked through phishing and malware
- Poor authentication procedures
- Unfixed vulnerabilities
On top of that, certain policies may erode corporate security even further. For instance, the BYOD (Bring Your Own Device) approach, which is quite popular due to the flexibility and convenience associated with it, is viewed as a major privacy threat by respondents from the U.S. and European companies. These policies also make security management less consistent and more difficult to maintain. From the strategic perspective, even in the absence of breaches, it means higher expenses.
What Can Be Done?
First, pay attention to the portfolio of the team you are considering for partnership. A seasoned enterprise mobile app development company will have the necessary expertise for creating a secure working environment, so you will be off to a good start. On top of that, be sure to develop and implement a mobile device management (MDM) strategy. This will give your security officer more control over employees’ devices and prevent unforeseen threats.
Adoption and Readiness
As mentioned above, although the app might be well developed, what matters is whether it solves the problem. In this light, the users’ proficiency with the tool plays as much of a role as the tool itself. Now, for an average consumer-grade app, this issue is tackled through development means, specifically the UX design. However, on the enterprise scale, this is not a sustainable approach, as the results need to be consistent throughout the organization.
What Can Be Done?
To ensure that the business is ready for the implementation of the solution, it is critical to establish close collaboration between the development team and other involved stakeholders. The human resources department is the most crucial player in this regard, which enables the transition process. Depending on the complexity of software and the scope of process, the necessary measures may range from updating the documentation to training and amending the change management policies.
In some cases, the issue of app security is not limited to the concerns of data integrity. Depending on the legal frameworks under which the business operates, it might actually be required by law. The most recent example of the latter is GDPR – a set of requirements that regulate privacy-related data management policies, which apply to businesses operating in Europe. After its introduction in 2016, non-compliant companies faced massive fines of up to 20 million Euros. What is the most concerning part? Some of those companies never even considered themselves a part of the European market in the first place.
What Can Be Done?
Understanding the underpinnings of the regulatory environment you are interacting with is the initial step towards the solution. Establishing a reliable communication channel between the legal advisors and the development team to cover all the necessary aspects is also a priority. To further reduce the chance of running into unforeseen problems, you can try and seek out a team that is familiar with the laws of your region. For instance, you can consider outsourcing the enterprise app development to Singapore – a major fintech hub and a destination of choice for the major US and European businesses.
Maintenance and Support
It is tempting to think about enterprise app development as a process that is terminated with the deployment of the final product. In reality, it will require updates to maintain its compatibility with different platforms it runs on. Even if you forego the BYOD approach and issue standardized hardware to employees, you still need to take care of all the security updates and fixes. Finally, unless the app is built with scalability in mind, some parts will need to be rewritten once your business grows and new components are introduced.
What Can Be Done?
Due to the nature of employee-facing apps, the need for long-term support is a common requirement. Most enterprise app development services will be equipped to provide the necessary maintenance and list it as a part of their offers. In other words, all you need to do is remember to bring it up when you discuss the details of cooperation and settle on the terms suitable for your business processes.
Enterprise mobile app development is far more seamless and well-established than ten years ago, with better tools and ecosystems being available. There are, of course, still challenges to overcome and considerations to keep in mind. However, with a strategic mindset and an experienced team at your side, nothing can stand between you and success.