By Jonathan Crowl
Most enterprise organizations lean on dozens of apps to conduct day-to-day business. A worldwide survey by Gartner conducted in September 2015 found that the average organization has 26 mobile apps available in its enterprise app store, with one-third of those apps custom-built for the organization.
As mobility demands grow, enterprise application development becomes more vital to each organization’s ability to meet business goals. The success of any enterprise app demands a step-by-step introduction plan that has the support of the entire organization. If you’re a C-suite executive concerned with introducing and integrating a new app for your company, you’ve already accomplished a key step: achieving stakeholder buy-in. Though you might need to stress this is a priority and the need for a comprehensive introduction, the biggest challenges you will face will come when you’re actually bringing the application into the enterprise environment.
Here are some tips to help you navigate this process:
Understand your app’s integration needs
The number of points of integration greatly affects the complexity of an app introduction. In today’s world of enterprise mobility, it’s rare for an app to have a single point of integration. Even if it currently does, it will likely need more integration capabilities in the future.
On the other end, a core application such as a CRM will require hundreds or even thousands of integrations, making its deployment a major IT project that has thousands of possible points of contact. You should be prepared for these integrations well ahead of the app’s introduction. If the app is custom-made for your company, you can address these integration needs through your application development. However, if you’re getting an app from a vendor, you might face challenges if it can’t be customized to suit your enterprise integration needs.
C-suite executives will need to communicate with IT to build a plan for this integration, including how many points of contact to address, the timeline required to complete the integration and whether this integration will require downtime for certain parts of the company’s operations. In cases where some departments and employees will not have access to certain apps and solutions, IT should give them advance notice and try to plan this integration at times where this work will cause the least amount of inconvenience.
Take stock of potential legacy issues
Is your enterprise mobile network up to speed with the latest software versions and operating systems? Will a newer app struggle to integrate with older apps? As Brian Madden points out, outdated enterprise apps are more likely to crop up where companies have built their own internal apps from scratch. If you’ve licensed out a solution from a vendor, it’s likely been receiving support, but you should still check to make sure it’s up-to-date. A new app introduction is a good time to review your current enterprise mobility solution and make necessary upgrades where apps and solutions have outlived their expiration date.
Test before launching
This is a phase where the C-suite can butt heads with IT experts. Testing isn’t fun or glamorous, and it’s often full of headaches. It can slow down the release of an app and force executives to practice patience. Some C-suite members will likely push to finish testing as quickly as possible to launch the app immediately. Don’t let this desire for faster gratification put your enterprise mobility in jeopardy. No app should be launched before it can be thoroughly tested by your IT department.
Use different platforms and test as many different uses and procedures as possible to confirm the app is fully functional and delivers on its promised performance. Also, test all possible integrations of the app, including how it functions with your CRM and other components of your enterprise stack. If the app is good to go, testing can be a fairly smooth process. If testing delays the launch, you can rest assured this postponement is for good reason.
Approve a budget for maintenance
The cost of an enterprise app doesn’t end with its launch. If your organization is responsible for maintaining the app, as opposed to a vendor providing regular maintenance, this needs to be built into the app’s operating budget. Don’t wait until the app’s release to have an argument about these numbers: Work with the rest of the C-suite to explain the importance of a maintenance budget and get full approval before the app launches. You can threaten putting the app on the shelf until the maintenance part of the budget is covered, if necessary. Make sure leadership understands that as long as the app is live, the maintenance budget is not negotiable.
A sloppy or rushed introduction can be a nightmare for an organization, leading to app outages, technical issues and mobility downtime that tanks the company’s productivity. Don’t compromise when it comes to making sure a costly enterprise app gets the detailed introduction it deserves.