It seems like any and all businesses have an app these days, and it doesn’t matter what industry that business occupies. The modern SME (or ‘small to medium-sized enterprise’) business owner is right to be considering app development as a lucrative project for your organization. But how do you know what to budget for, and how to find an app developer?
Today we are going to discuss the options available to SMEs looking to develop an app, as well as all the things that must be considered to ensure your end product is poised to provide as much value as possible, both to you and your target audience.
App development agency vs. outsourced app developer
First and foremost, business owners must decide if they’ll work with a local app development agency or outsource their project to an offshore team. This is going to be the first question you will face when starting your app development project, and it’s well worth prefacing this by saying that there is no wrong answer here. There are pros and cons to either option, which we will explore right now.
Working with a local app development agency is going to afford you the luxury of having all creatives and tech-heads under the same roof, making changes and ideation that much smoother. Comparatively, an outsourced app developer may have limited communication options and you may be locked into a templated design or not have too much say over the look and feel, although this may not be an issue if your app development project is expected to be relatively small and simple in its design.
That said – you only know if you speak and quote with both, so it’s well worth organizing meetings and inquiring with shortlisted agencies to get a clearer understanding of the payment model and project timeline you can expect.
Web, mobile or desktop apps
Although many of us may think solely of mobile app development when considering the term ‘app development’ in the age of the smartphone, it’s important to keep in mind that developing web and desktop applications is still an option for modern business owners. For this reason, it’s worth taking time to assess each of these three areas of software development in order to ascertain which platforms are most likely to be used by your target demographic. After all, the last thing you want to do is alienate your market or fail to produce an app that is going to provide value to them where they need it.
Naturally, whether you choose web, mobile or desktop apps is going to influence the estimated cost of your development project. Alongside this, if you are considering cross-platform compatibility, that is also likely to be expensive, as it will involve developing software across multiple platforms.
If you are choosing to invest in mobile app development, then you need to work out if that app is set to be an iOS, Android or Windows 10 mobile app. App designs are often compatible with all (or iOS and Android at the very least), but you should absolutely discuss what your options are with your development agency or outsourced development team.
Utilize your many data points
Before you get in the thick of your app development project and start working with developers, you want to have a crystal clear idea of who your target audience or defined app user is and what they want. Contrary to belief, the patterns and desires of our customers are not as much of a mystery as they are essentially a mathematical certainty, or at least they appear to be when taking full advantage of the resource that is market data.
There is rich information to be found and used in your business and competitor data that can help with decision-making throughout your app development process. For this reason, we urge business owners to find and analyze the data available to them in order to get the most out of their app development project. Look into the Google Analytics of your website, the analytics of your social media accounts, the activity and feedback on your email marketing strategies, company reviews, census data, and even trends you are seeing with your competitors.
When you bring all this information together you are going to have a rich tapestry of data that will ensure that all the decisions you make throughout your app development project are likely to be well-educated.
An often overlooked advantage to bringing an app to the market is that you can meet your users in a fully controlled digital environment and learn more about how they respond to your brand. You might find that the booking function of your app is successful, but the chat function has failed to be as engaging as you had anticipated. Being able to monitor all of these individual, necessary components to building the user engagement of your brand and providing user experiences is a fantastic way of measuring your company’s continuous improvement metrics.
Measuring continuous improvement has proven time and time again to be the key ingredient to business success across a wide range of industries. For SME business owners, your app might be the vehicle that brings all the opportunities and customer interactions you need to accurately gauge your company’s improvement metrics. If your app is lacking in any particular metric, then simply amend your development strategies to ensure that this metric can somehow be represented in the layout and functionality of your app. Your development team should be able to help bring these additional functions or purposes to life.
Minimal viable product (MVP)
If your budget constraints are getting in the way of building a great app from inception to completion, you might gain some value in exploring an MVP option. This means that the app is launched in its early beta testing phase, and can be tightened and tweaked in due course when you learn more about its usability and the functions that are most popular or most valuable for your business to thrive.
Launching an MVP is something you see often in lean project management, with the vision that you should not allocate more money and time on something that has not been brought to the market and used. Launching a beta phase app or MVP will not be right for all projects so do not consider this if you have heightened security requirements for your app and anything quite specialized.
Last but not least, we urge business owners not to forget that there are lots of factors to consider when developing a business app, and you will not be aware of these finer details until you start working with an agency and understand what is possible for you and your business. Regardless of what stage of the app development process you may be in however, we hope you are excited to bring your app to the market and see incremental value in your small to medium-sized enterprise as a result.