Almost all IT managers know the application deployment and implementation cycle in their companies. But many of them fail to fully understand the issues that come with the mobile applications, and struggle after the launch by revisiting the issues and trying to achieve compliance. We have compiled a list of the must-have items in the enterprise application launch for the IT managers.
The first item is the security. Security is not something that can be thought of and implemented in the last minute. It is something that has to be thought of from the very beginning. Any flaws in the security come back as costly maintenance, upgrades, design and development cycles, which, oftentimes exceed the application’s initial development costs. The IT manager has to make sure that the security policies are embedded into the application right from the conceptual design.
There is no need to say that the application has to have advanced encryption features. If the application is not developed in-house, the IT staff needs to know fully how and where the employees are using the application, as well as the security features to keep the enterprise networks safe.
Compliance is one of the top items but does not need too much discussion. The application has to comply with the national and international laws, regulations and rules.
Turning to the consumer experience, I have been discussing the end user experience extensively in my posts. In the post-PC era, the IT needs to make sure that the application has to provide the same experience the consumer applications provide. This ensures smooth transition, less friction from the end users, less time on training and higher rates of adoption.
With the consumer experience, comes the device compatibility. In the Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) era, there are many mobile platforms (iOS, Android, Windows Mobile, BlackBerry topping the list with Sailfish, Tizen, Firefox OS, Ubuntu on the way) with many form factors. The mobile application should be compatible with multiple platforms and should be cross-platform. An employee can be using a company-issued tablet but can also be using her mobile phone, which has different operating systems and different factors. The ability to run in such a diverse environment is directly correlated with productivity.
In such a diverse environment, the application should also be working together with the company’s systems. If an application is deployed to the sales staff, who are spending their times outside with the clients, the application should be able to access the company’s ERP and CRM systems, as well as the file/collaboration systems. The users should have the ability to receive, edit and share these files.
In order to achieve such level of integration, the application should be tested thoroughly with the key employees. It is best practice to select key employees from the departments and have them prepare their test scenarios for the applications. When there is a prospective application that is being considered, deploy the application to these users and have them run their scenarios on the application. This not only has user engagement and static scenario testing benefits but also ensures that the application is tested with the most current business processes: the predefined scenarios may be outdated, but the key users will test the application with their current scenarios.
Of course the application should work offline. Being mobile requires instant access to information and the application has to have this feature out of the box. An application that cannot work when there is no Internet connection – and that means almost all modes of transportation – is not acceptable in today’s mobile world.
And finally, the application should be trackable. When an application is introduced, many people load it on their devices and some of them never run it. One of my clients spend some thousand dollars on an application and deployed it to some thousand devices. After six months, the results were a nightmare: people ran it just once after the installation and never the second time. This could be even worse if it were a per-user license; it simply would be throwing money out of the window. To avoid such a scenario, the application should be deployed to a group of people and the use should be monitored closely right from the start. This will help to understand how and with what frequency the application is used and what are the productivity gains.
Having a checklist on all these items for every mobile application, your enterprise can save a lot in terms of time and money, and avoid the headaches.