Streamline your business using in-house mobile applications

Apps everywhere

You’ve got a lot of great apps on your phone. Some you use to keep yourself organised, others you use because they’re fun. Some are informative, others provide you with a service. Some you use at home, some on the way to work and still others you use in the workplace itself. Use of mobile apps has become for many an integral aspect of daily life. Perhaps it’s time to take advantage of this fact, move on from being a passive app consumer and start utilising the power of custom applications to streamline your business?

Using apps to streamline your business

Apps open up a whole realm of possibility to the innovative problem solver. Their uses can cover everything from assigning tasks to staff through to opening the front door. It’s worth taking a look at some typical smartphone specs, as well as some of their other potential uses as you may find yourself inspired simply by the capabilities available to you! It might involve measuring distances or times, controlling things remotely, collaborating with or coordinating a virtual team or field team, or providing signatures, fingerprints or additional security information; the possibilities are endless.

Apps open up a whole realm of possibility to the innovative problem solver

With so much loosely defined potential available, how can I work out for sure whether it would be beneficial for my business to implement a mobile app as part of its work process? If you have an idea for an app that could help you, validate the idea by discussing it with others (both those involved in the work process who understand your needs and those with development experience who can advise about the complexity and costs involved in developing your idea). If you don’t have a specific idea, you’ll need to analyse your business, department or team looking for areas where you could become more efficient.

Analysis of potential app uses

Analysis could take a number of different forms; larger businesses may want to hire independent business analysis consultants to help with the process, though there are plenty of resources online to help you map out your own workflows. Essentially the process of analysing the potential for app use in your business involves looking at each step taken by each employee and considering whether that step or group of steps could be made simpler with an app.

That might seem like a rather grueling task and I’ll be honest, if you commit to doing it thoroughly, it is! It’s worthwhile doing it though, as the insight you can gain into your business can enable a lot of other improvements and efficiency fixes, not only app based. However, it’s quite likely that you already have some idea of the areas that aren’t working well or which you’d like to update. In which case you may choose just to focus on those areas and not on reviewing your entire business!

it’s likely that you already have some idea of the areas that aren’t working well

Alternatively, rather than disrupting your existing workflows you might prefer to analyse desired future developments and changes and trial using apps from the off as part of a new process to see how your team responds.

Check existing options

Supposing you’ve identified one or more areas for improvement where you think that an app might be the best way to improve efficiency. Now you need to check the market to see if there’s a tool out there already that can do the job you need done. Try to define the problem with one or two keywords that can be easily searched for in app stores. Also, try searching in a search engine for tool reviews that address this issue. Don’t instantly download the first thing you find! Look at a range of similar products and look at their specs, reviews and recommendations.

It’s possible that there’s nothing out there that does what you need, or that what’s available provides a rough fit, but isn’t quite right. In that case you might want to consider development of a new tool.

Develop a custom app

Developing an app as a tool for internal use, you may well have different standards and expectations to those you would have developing an app for commercial purposes. Of course it might depend in part on budget considerations, but whilst the app still needs to be comfortable to use, your definition of what makes a minimum viable product for personal use could well be much more frill free than that which you’d use for something you planned on going public with. Of course this tool is an investment intended to make your team more efficient and ultimately save you money; that being the case, it’s likely that you’ll want to keep development costs as low as you can.

Minimising development costs

How can you keep development costs down? Most importantly, by limiting the functions of your app to exactly what is needed. If you start adding in additional functions, the development time goes up and so do the associated costs. Talk with your development provider about the simplest way to address your problem. They should be able to advise you about the technical complexity of your plans and give estimates as to how much different features and elements are likely to add to the price.

MVP first

There’s unlikely to be the same urgency to get the MVP out that you might have with a commercial product, but as with a commercial project, it’s definitely your initial goal. Once you’ve got your MVP up and running you can trial it in the workplace, find out exactly how effective it is and if it needs any changes made to become exactly what’s required.

Using apps is a meaningful way that you can affect change in an easily accessible, technology driven way.

If after a trial period the tool is effective, you could even consider making it available to other firms, either as a free tool to build up your brand recognition and reputation or as a paid tool for use as an additional income stream. If you think the app has a lot of potential re-use value by other companies or individuals you could even consider turning it into a spin-off, startup business in it’s own right!

Meaningful change

There are all sorts of approaches to streamlining your business. Using apps is just one arrow in your quiver. It is however a meaningful way that you can affect change in an easily accessible, technology driven way. So if you’re on the lookout for where you can implement your next big efficiency drive, it might just be that development of an in-house app is exactly what you’re looking for.