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Things To Consider While Building An Enterprise Web Or Mobile Application

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Anand Srinivasan
September 23, 2014

Anand Srinivasan

Anand is an independent consultant based in Bangalore, India. He advises small businesses on their strategy in the online segment.

Anand Srinivasan has written 7 articles for WebKnowHow.
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Technology has made it possible for businesses to be available to customers anytime, anywhere and in any form. But the downside to this omnipresence is the growing defragmentation when it comes to actually building applications. Think about it – a decade back, smartphones were non-existent. More than 90% of computers in the market were Windows based. Building an application basically meant writing a Windows software.

Things are different now. The personal computer market is shrinking although the share of Macs here is growing stronger. Besides desktops and laptops, we today have tablets and smartphones to contend with. Each of these platforms have at least two or three major OS platforms taking up the top spots. Consequently, the cost and resources required to be omnipresent to the customer is on the rise.

How do you manage this challenge? Here are a few things you must consider:

Adopt A 80/20 Approach : When prioritizing platforms, always remember the 80/20 rule – the highest revenues come from the top 20% of your customers. Identify the platform that is predominant among these customers and start building your application on these platforms first.

Do Not Replicate : It may be tempting to make your tasks easy by simply replicating your application features for every platform. This could prove extremely expensive since the needs of the customer while using different platforms are different. For instance, a user accessing the Windows application on the desktop would prefer exhaustive reports and access. However, the same user accessing your service from a smartphone might simply prefer notifications and overview reports. Identify the usage scenarios of your service on various platforms and build your application accordingly.

Opt For Third Party CMS : If you are a major enterprise, you might feel compelled to build your own framework and content management systems. This is simply reinventing the wheel and does not help your organization in any way, except escalating development and maintenance costs. Always opt for third party CMSes. It costs less and maintenance is cheap. For instance, if your application is based on Microsoft SharePoint, you can all the features simply by obtaining a license. Upgrading to the latest version is possible simply by migrating to the latest SharePoint versions. You save time and money this way.

Pick A Data Policy : Depending on what your business does, it may be important for you to decide the ideal data policy. Should you host all the content on your own servers? Or should they be hosted over a third party cloud service? Although security over the cloud has been a talking point for long, cloud services have now established themselves as highly secure platforms. You must make a throrough analysis of what your business does and take a call on your data policy.

Consider The Merits Of Development Outsourcing : Building different web and mobile applications for your business involves different skill-sets. Consequently, there is a lot of learning curve for your in-house development team when they go from building one application to another. While you may consider this as a great move for the long-term, there is a cost to this : you are protracting your development cycle. Besides, with the regular employee churn, it is likely that the learning curve will continue to exist year after year. There is hence merit in considering the outsourcing of your app development to businesses that specialize in the platform. This drastically shortens the development time and might save costs. Considering that app development is a continuous process, it also makes sense to hire an in-house team to specialize on various platforms.

What has your experience with building enterprise web and mobile apps been? Tell us in the comments.

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