Last week I wrote about the growing demand for enterprise mobile apps, and touched on how challenging it can be for organizations to develop those apps in-house. This week, I’m going to share some insights that can help you get around those in-house challenges by providing a few tips on selecting the best enterprise mobile app provider to meet your unique needs.
- Assess your needs and goals. What are you trying to do? Are you looking for an app that emphasizes form over functionality, or is something aesthetically simple, yet feature-rich, more important? Do you need long-term, ongoing support from your enterprise mobile app provider? Do you want to use a company that has a small team of developers devoted just to you, or a larger team that has a wealth of experience working on many different types of projects — or, preferably, both?
- Understand the differences between providers. There are thousands of enterprise mobile app providers at your disposal. They range from digital boutiques (creative folks, but sometimes very expensive) to full-fledged design agencies (good at creative, but often not at back-end integration or on-going support) to systems integrators (good with technology, maybe not so much with creative). Check out which enterprise mobile app provider might be more proficient in designing a compelling user experience for the short term, vs. the technically deep, end-to-end providers who will work with your over the long term.
- Find out if they’ll stick around past “Release One”. Perhaps one of the most important questions you need to ask is whether the vendor offers full life-cycle management. This means providing a long term strategy that goes well past just the first release. You’ll need someone who can test, analyze and react to your first release, second and third – there is no “end-state” when it comes to an enterprise app, its an ongoing and iterative process.
- Dig into the background of your potential partners. Once you’ve got a good idea of the app development vendor landscape, and you’ve narrowed your choices to your top three or four, do some further digging into the companies themselves. Find out how long have they been in business, their client list, the size of their teams, and the backgrounds of their developers. Read their press releases, news stories, and blogs. Do your homework by treating the process as you would any other potential partner courtship.
- Review some of the mobile apps they’ve developed. If possible, go onto the App Store or Google Play and download samples of some of the apps your potential partner has developed for other businesses. Assess the quality of the work hands-on and read user reviews (note: this would only be possible if those apps are publicly available, and not developed for internal audiences).
- Ask for customer references. Feel free to ask companies for client references. You’ll want to contact these folks and ask about their experience working with the company and its developers.
- Check out any supporting materials you can find. Many enterprise app development companies will publish educational pieces, such as mobile app design e-books and other materials. These will give you a better sense of the company’s overall expertise and willingness to share valuable insight about their processes.
- Don’t rush into the decision. Although mobile is a fast-paced and constantly moving environment – and you no doubt want to take advantage of it as quickly as possible – you’ll really want to take your time in deciding on the best partner for your needs. Due diligence is important. Remember that enterprise mobile apps are now serious business, and your process for selecting a partner should reflect that.
Have any other questions about selecting an enterprise app developer, or want to learn more about how mPortal can help with your enterprise app development needs? Shoot me a note – I’m happy to help. And, don’t forget to check some of our own resources, including: