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Make sure your apps follow common task workflows
Establishing a mobile app strategy to best support your business means giving careful consideration to how best these technologies can complement existing workflows. Corporate Intranets and enterprise apps can provide a unique opportunity to enhance your internal processes and structure, but only when they don’t add complexity or additional demand on valuable employee time.
It might seem that building inward-facing mobile apps would be an easy task, but with the charge to reduce errors and boost productivity, these projects often face four main challenges:
Intranet and enterprise apps are unique in that you often can dictate the platform and devices used by your target audience, but unfortunately this may not always be the case. As you move forward with development of these internally focused projects, be sure to consider whether employees may need to access these apps from their own devices, particularly if the function of your app is a job requirement such as submission of timesheets.
If you decide to support more than one platform, be sure to keep in mind key factors such as screen size and load times over non-wired Internet connections.
Be careful that your new mobile app doesn't add work or make life more difficult for your employees. Begin by designing workflows for common tasks and be sure your app follows the same path and flow, eliminating the need for duplication of effort or retraining.
You may discover that the existing path is complicated or inefficient, in which case you may take this opportunity to simplify the process.
It is also important to remember that mobile content should be concise and optimized. Jakob Nielsen of the Nielsen Norman Group says, "Hiding content behind an extra tap can also help; such progressive disclosure means that only users who want more details will get them."
Often company resources are focused heavily on the actual product or service being delivered and not the infrastructure that makes sure the task is done correctly and efficiently. Internal systems can be the first to suffer, meaning many mobile intranets and enterprise apps are developed with little to no budget.
Sometimes this may be unavoidable, but having money allocated may rest on demonstrating value. Consider a phased approach: Review quick wins and start small, first implementing features that will alleviate your organization's worst pain points.
Many organizations don't release intranet or enterprise apps until they are full-featured and considered complete. Developing an app to be used in-house is an evolution: Create a few core functions, launch these to your employees, listen to their feedback, and continue to increase usefulness over time.
This doesn't suggest that your organization should deliver an untested app that offers no benefit -- this would make it very difficult to achieve buy-in from your team.
As a business, it is often easy to forget that your responsibilities lie with your employees as much as they do your clients. Making internal tasks easier means increased team morale, improved efficiency, and more effective and confident delivery of the products and services you specialize in.
An experienced content and social media marketing professional, Michelle writes frequently about the practical applications of information technology.
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