American Marketer


5 factors to consider when building an app

April 26, 2013

Marci Weisler is chief operating officer of EachScape



By Marci Weisler

As we know, mobile has become pervasive – in work, in life, everywhere. It is making us accessible, streamlining workflows and cutting down on paper and paper costs.

Despite the proliferation, mobile remains a complex universe, with many options and factors for decision-makers who are considering initiatives.

With 71 percent of enterprises either looking to or actively deploying their own mobile applications, it is very important that they avoid pitfalls commonly associated with apps.

A recent Forrester Research survey of enterprise IT decision makers found fragmentation, user experience and integration with back-end systems to be top challenges with developing mobile apps.

If you or your organization is in the midst of mobile consideration, here are some questions to ask to come to the right decisions for you and your business, as there is no one size fits all.

What is your users’ level of app-savvy?

If you are creating mobile experiences for your own teams, are they users or resistors? Do they love or hate paper?

If you do not know, take a survey before you start to understand preferences and comfort level.

You need not base your decision on the majority of users personal preferences since many additional factors are involved, but it will enable you to have a level of expectation of complexity you can achieve and level of training you will need to provide.

Also, keep the ease of use of any site or app compatible with the users’ relative ability and be sure to provide appropriate training where needed.

Where will the app be used?

This question is so critical. I live and work in New York and spend much of my travel time underground, so it is important that my productivity apps work when I am on the subway with no connectivity.

I have one app that alerts me to update before my departure time on a daily basis so I can read the updates on the train.

That said, the quality of the app should not be compromised for productivity and some apps that require lots of data access may need to be network-reliant.

If real-time data is important, this also requires network capability. Think about how you might do a hybrid of the two approaches to optimize the app.

If you are looking to put an app in retail or other point-of-sale locations, make sure that you will be able to update the app onsite via Wi-Fi or a mobile network since coverage is often an issue.

Also, if you are building for salespeople, keep in mind that presentations and demos often happen at the clients’ locations and you cannot count on that connectivity, so be sure your offering is local or has a controlled means of access.

Will the app replace existing processes?

The likely answer is yes, and if so, be sure you can articulate the benefits, whether those are cost savings, enhanced productivity, better selling tools or even green initiatives.

Even those wed to the old have an easier time if they understand the wherefores and whys of the new.

Also, have a transition plan for the team so it is an easy and positive experience switching from the old to the new.

What kind of hardware will your app require, and is this provided by the company or the employee?

Do not forget the hardware. BYOD is one of the hottest acronyms of the year, and bring your own device has become a reality in many places.

That said, depending on your requirements, this may or may not be a solution for you.

The decision should be based on costs/benefits, security requirements, access requirements, and the importance of consistency.

Perhaps you are only going to support Android or only iOS, so you need a plan to address that.

In addition to platform requirements, be aware of memory and access needs, and network compatibility.

How do you incent your team to drive the desired results from your mobile investment?

If you want your mobile program to be successful, align incentives.

For example, if you put iPads in retail locations to be a sales tool for your associates, be sure that their sales are tracked and they are commissioned or rewarded for driving business through this new channel.

This often takes a lot work to make the technology work with the program, but the results can speak for themselves, and enable you to expand programs with more investments as your team embraces change.

THERE IS a lot to consider when building and deploying an app, especially at the enterprise level.

But, if done the right way, the rewards are abundant, ranging from increased productivity and sales to streamlined processes and cost savings.

Marci Weisler is chief operating officer of EachScape, New York. Reach her at