When you can’t find existing software suited to optimize your company’s unique workflows, it’s time to take matters into your own hands with a popular solution that is quickly catching the eye of Fortune 500 companies — developing your own internal app.
Also called enterprise apps, internal apps give you the option to create a custom app that is designed to support the unique aspects of your workflow, and potentially make your employee’s lives easier. But, creating the app doesn’t automatically guarantee more productivity and efficiency — you have to make sure you’re developing an app your employees will actually use.
Before you invest a lot of time and money, let’s discuss what to keep in mind and do when developing your enterprise app so your employees will use it.
Your Employees Come First
Unfortunately, employees won’t use an app simply because it’s there (even if you’ve built it specifically for your company). This thinking takes mobile use for granted: apps that deliver a poor experience or don’t meet user needs will be abandoned. In fact, the rise of Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) policies highlights that employees will use their own devices (and, by extension, the apps of their choice) to make work easier.
The first step to avoid app abandonment is to consider who your employees are and what they will use your app for. Are they office workers who work from their desks all day? Are they on-the-road field workers? Do they work in warehouses or deliver goods cross-country?
With your employees in mind, you next need to identify problems they face. For office employees, this could be coordinating schedules for meetings and project collaboration. For warehouse employees, it could be communication with other warehouses or those responsible for completing orders. Once you have identified their problems, you can start sketching out the solution your app will offer to improve their working experience.
User Experience is Everything
Developing an app that meets your employees’ needs is only part of the solution. An app that has a clunky or confusing interface will turn users away. According to a recent survey on user experience with enterprise apps, 83% of users think apps make them more productive, yet only 30% of users said their work app was intuitive. Just over half (52%) said their app was reliable or stable.
The survey highlights the need for companies to focus on areas that enhance the user experience (UX). when developing their apps, which include:
- Functionality: Apps need to be intuitive to use. This includes a clean, simplified interface and easy navigation.
- Reliability and Stability: Employees need to know they can rely on your enterprise app to not crash or freeze.
- Speed: One study by CA Technologies found that 68% of consumers surveyed expected an app to load in six seconds or less (more than half expected a loading time of less than three). Apps that take longer are more likely to be abandoned by users.
- Usefulness: As we’ve already discussed, enterprise apps need to solve the problems of your employees.
The Product Delivery Chain
So what’s the best way to develop an app that equally addresses employee pain points and the user experience?
App development has typically followed the delivery funnel approach, where product development takes top priority. Employees won’t see the app until it’s in the final stages of development. The end result is an app that might work but doesn’t necessarily meet the needs of end users.
Instead, enterprises should focus on soliciting feedback along the way, which promotes collaboration from all departments along the entire development process. At Barefoot, we solicit feedback at almost all stages of development: we start with user interviews through a discovery phase, collect user feedback through the architecture and taxonomy descriptions, and finally build a functional prototype to demonstrate how the app will function, which we also use to solicit user input. Including feedback at every stage is complicated, but it’s necessary. Keeping communication channels open means that employees can explain their needs to developers and designers.
Companies that take this approach will see less changes to the app, and higher adoption. Employees will feel valued knowing their needs are being addressed from the get-go. Ultimately, you’ll deliver an app that employees will enjoy using.
Closing the Need Gap
Companies need to consider the user experience and the development process before getting started on an enterprise app. Making changes after-the-fact can be costly in terms of development time and re-acquainting employees with changes.
With apps playing an ever-growing role in our lives, companies are presented with a huge opportunity to provide true value to their employees and fix problems unique to their workplaces. Yet the current gap between employee needs and app quality is wide. By taking an employee-centered approach, you can take the lead in closing this gap. Your employees will thank you.
Considering developing an enterprise app for your employees? Get in touch with us today for a free consultation.