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Rethink Workflows for Enterprise Mobile App Success

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Posted December 4, 2015 By Staff     Feedback

When developing enterprise mobile apps, do not just replicate existing desktop apps.

For years, companies have talked about "going mobile" and many organizations are taking constructive steps to do just that. According to a recent survey by Lopez Research, more than 75 percent of companies plan to build 10 or more enterprise mobile apps this year.

However, the majority of companies are still at the early stages of mobility, just beginning to move beyond basic business processes such as scheduling and email.

The key to building mobile apps that employees will use again and again is to move beyond replicating apps that already exist in the PC landscape. Instead, as industry expert Jack Madden recommends, business leaders and developers building mobile apps need to think about mobile capabilities that can improve an app – and the user experience.

Too often, developers gather requirements from key stakeholders and design enterprise mobile apps that attempt to deliver all things to all people. This approach is time consuming and often doesn’t deliver the functionality that’s truly needed.

Instead, a more successful approach commonly used by best-in-class organizations 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.

What Is Mobile App Use Case?

Of course, one of the greatest challenges to approaching mobility from a workflow perspective is determining the use case that most needs to be mobile-enabled. In sales this may be the ability to share product specifications and other product information with customers and prospects during face-to-face meetings, or functionality that enables prospects to sign contracts using a mobile device during a field sales call.

Workflow-focused mobile apps require developers to look inside of a workgroup or corporate function, such as marketing or field service, and ask how things could be done better. For instance, would a senior manager of an email marketing team prefer to be able to launch a new campaign from his mobile device and not have to wait to schedule it from a PC? Would logistics employees want the ability to scan barcodes using a smartphone? Consider the workflows and functionality that need to be prioritized.

The success of an app can be strengthened by developing enterprise mobile apps that start with a narrowly-focused use case, asking "What are the main objectives for the mobile app we’re developing and what is the primary functionality that target users need right away?" For instance, American Airlines’ mobile app started with a single task with one data source at the back end and eventually evolved to incorporate other natural customer workflows such as checking a flight’s status and booking a flight.

To obtain a thorough understanding of the workflows of target users, 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.

These insights can help developers create mockups for apps and then review these mockups with target users to ensure they represent how an app would be used. From there, developers can make any adjustments that might be needed before they begin coding.

Taking a user-centric approach to development can ensure that developers are effectively meeting the needs and workflows of their intended audience. Consider GEICO’s customer mobile app, designed with a logical workflow based on its customers’ needs, including a button to immediately contact a towing service.

Remember, the success of any organization’s enterprise mobility program is based on developing the right apps to meet user’s needs, follow a coherent path for addressing the workflows they use and, ultimately, deliver value. In order for this to happen, developers and line-of-business leaders need to partner closely to gain access to end users and their requirements and to ensure that the objectives for mobility efforts are being met.

Well-designed enterprise mobile apps that make it easier for workers to do their jobs will help drive mobile app adoption. Companies that take a workflow-based approach to mobile app development are able to deliver better experiences for end users while helping the organization work toward -- and achieve -- its KPIs.

Robert Lacis is senior director of Customer Success at Apperian, an enterprise-class mobile application management and app store platform for the secure delivery of critical apps to 100 percent of users across an organization.

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