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Enterprise Apps: Troubleshooting Deployment

A young man stands at his computer while holding his phone in his handYou’ve made the decision to create an internal app for your company. You’ve done your homework, examined opportunities to bring value to your employees, and worked with either internal resources or an outsourced development team to bring that value to life.

Developing an app for your business is exciting, but achieving a working product isn’t the end of the road. Now you need to launch it, and get employees to use it.

Deployment should be planned just as thoughtfully as development. Even if your team has built a beautiful, user-friendly, advanced enterprise app, it can crash and burn during the deployment process. If employees can’t easily download it or sync it across their various platforms, your app will sit on the digital shelf gathering cosmic dust.

Here’s what you need to think about before you deploy your new enterprise app.

Internal Testing

Employee feedback is vital. The point of creating an internal enterprise app is to make your employees jobs easier — and the best way to ensure your app serves its purpose is to ask employees what they think of it directly.

You should have already done extensive research on your employees’ needs before beginning app development, but it’s important to test your app as you approach deployment. Things change during the development process — features are added or removed and UI design is adjusted accordingly — and these changes may inadvertently make the app less intuitive for users. Seek employee feedback on whether the latest version of your app does in fact serve their needs.

The best way to do this is to deploy an early version of the app, and distribute it to a sample of employees for testing. To do this, you may use ad-hoc distribution through Android or iOS, which allows a company to deploy an app to select users via email invite or a website. If you don’t want to go through Google or Apple, consider using third-party distribution via an outside platform (like Fabric.io) to deploy your app to select employees.

Security and Support

Android and iOS have different security protocols from traditional IT infrastructures. Your company’s IT team should understand these differences and how to handle them. While both companies offer their own security solutions, you can also turn to third-party options like Samsung Knox and Bluebox for Android.

Once the app is deployed, employees will inevitably have questions on how to use it properly and how to resolve issues that come up. Ensure that your IT department can handle support for your app on all relevant devices (mobile, desktop and more). This should be something you talk to your IT team about before you begin development. If your IT staff doesn’t have the resources, you’ll have to consider the costs associated with bringing on third-party mobile-specific support.

Availability

The method of deployment isn’t always a straightforward choice, especially when you consider the different devices your employees use.

When it’s time to release the app to your entire company, what’s the best way to make it accessible on all devices and platforms? An enterprise app is for internal use only — should you make it available on a public app store?

Your available deployment options include:

Public Stores

Making your app available on Google’s Play Store and Apple’s App Store ensures all employees will be able to find and download your app. This easy accessibility is also great for employees who end up changing phones.

Google charges $25 for a developer license, and Apple charges a $99 annual fee for an Apple Developer Program license. All apps will have to go through both companies’ app approval processes, before being published to their respective app stores.

Enterprise Programs

Joining an enterprise program with Apple or Google means your app will be distributed internally to employees (where your company acts as the licensee). While Android doesn’t charge anything to use app licensing features, Apple does charge a $299 annual fee for its Apple Developer Enterprise Program license.

Private B2B Store

For iOS apps, Apple’s Volume Purchase Program (VPP) allows companies to set up their own private app store. Using internal app binaries, you can restrict access to employee-owned devices only. Companies can also share their apps with other VPP-participating companies. Keep in mind, however, that apps still need to be submitted for approval on this platform.

Start Planning for Deployment at the Start

Don’t wait until your app is designed and built to start planning for deployment. In your very first conversations with your development team about creating your enterprise app, be sure to discuss deployment strategies, potential challenges and solutions.

The result will be an app your employees will enjoy using. This isn’t an easy task: while 83% of enterprise app users in a recent study said apps help with productivity, only half said their enterprise app was intuitive. This points to a huge opportunity for yours to stand out from the rest, with proper planning for the design, development and deployment.

If you are considering developing an enterprise app for your company, or already have an enterprise app and have questions about how best to deploy it to your employees, reach out to us for a free consultation.

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