Develop Better Mobile Apps: Design Them Around Enterprise Workflows

Most companies are in the early stages of developing mobile apps, and so are still learning how to best design them. They’re only now beginning to build applications that go beyond the basics of business tasks such as scheduling and email. Too often, though, application developers are going about it the wrong way, delivering less-than-useful apps. But with a simple change in their outlook, they can make mobile applications that significantly boost productivity and lead to bottom-line benefits. So writes Robert Lacis, senior director of Customer Success at Apperian, in a blog.

Lacis says that mobile app builders too often merely replicate desktop applications and don’t look to improve the user experience for those who need to get work done on their mobile devices. App creators frequently take a good deal of time getting information from key stakeholders, as well,¬†delivering applications that attempt to be all things to all people. Lacis concludes, “This approach is time consuming and often doesn’t deliver the functionality that’s truly needed.”

How To Create Mobile Apps that Get the Job Done

A better approach, Lacis says, “is the development of custom, workflow-focused mobile apps that look beyond the obvious features in desktop apps. They are designed, instead, around the actual flow of work that’s conducted by targeted employee teams.”

How to do that? Lacis says mobile app developers need to create use cases before starting app design. So, for example, a sales application may allow a salesperson to share product information with prospects and customers, or lets prospects sign contracts using mobile devices during a sales call.

To develop the use cases, he says, “Developers should spend time with employees in their day-to-day activities. Doing so can help them better understand what target users do in their roles, the tasks they complete and the steps they take to accomplish them.”

Finally, he recommends starting by keeping enterprise mobile apps as narrowly focused as possible. They can then be grown from there. As an example, he points to American Airlines, which created a mobile application that started simple, performing only a single task with one data source at the back end, and over time included other customer workflows including booking a flight and checking a flight’s status.