Do I need an App for my business?

by Nick Richards

Mobile devices are everywhere, and it seems every other day there’s a new killer app that provides a whole bunch of awesome functionality we don’t need. Business are peeking over the fence, seeing their neighbours with a shiny new app and wondering if its something they should have.

One of the most common things I hear from clients is “we need to get an app developed”.

Like leveraged buyouts and ponytails in the 1980s, it seemed like a great idea at the time – but in hindsight LBO’s and ponytails were hideous. It’s really important to think about why an app needs to be designed and what the business case is for development. Below are a few key things to think about to help guide this.

What am I trying to give to my customers, staff, end users etc?

Is an app the best way to deliver whatever you need delivered to the users? End users won’t download an app to look at a catalogue when a mobile site will do just fine. Maybe another platform already exists that does the job – licensing this would save both time and money.

Will this save them time, money or deliver value?

Don’t make an app for the sake of making an app. Just because your friend had one built for his businesses doesn’t mean it will add any value to yours. End users won’t use it and it will be a total waste of time and money. No one is going to download a special app that’s a loan calculator if they can just jump on Google and look it up.

Is this a viable project with viable timeframes?

Software development is like building a structure. Different things have different times and costs. If you want something to market fast, then version one may have to be feature-reduced, but with a roadmap for more functionality. If a project is going to take 12 months to develop then clearly it has to have the scope changed. It’s better to have something with four key features being used than something with 14 features being built for years.

Is this anything to do with my core business?

This is one of the biggest points to think about. If you’re an accounting firm, why would you want to develop the next Angry Birds? It’s out of your core business and area of expertise and it’s going to distract you from what you do best. Rovio Mobile isn’t taking up auditing – don’t become a game-developing house.

All of this being said, if there is a need for end users to be able to access a core part of your business which could save them time and money, then an app is a great way to stay connected and boost your digital profile. Otherwise, do you really need it?

by Nick Richards

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