It seems every organisation from SME’s to large multinationals have the need for an internal tool to help transform their business. However, the number of people out there that have the knowledge about how to go about delivering such a tool is relatively small.
There are a number of steps to go through before you can launch your internal tool and kick-start organisational change.
Step 1: Share your app idea!
It’s easy to get over protective about your app idea for fear of having it stolen. That’s understandable, but there’s no way to know how the good (or bad) the idea really is unless you share it with others. You need to talk to as many trusted people about the app idea as you can- your staff knows best what they need, so try to put it in front of as many of your ‘target audience’ as you can. These are the people that are most likely to use the app when in it’s ready for download. Get as much feedback as you can, as you’ll get a better idea whether you’re a genius, whether it’s not such a great idea or the feedback might give you valuable information about how to tweak it and make it even better.
Step 2: Get help to refine the idea, design and develop it.
This is where you need to get the professionals in. My advice would be NOT to find a development house in some far-flung corner of the world. You need to de-risk your project, especially if you’re putting your own money in to it. Speak to a few reputable companies and find the one you feel is the best fit for you. Choose wisely as whoever you select, will decide the quality of the final app. You’ll also need to decide which platform to develop your app for. The two main dominant operating systems are Android (Google) or iOS (Apple). Your target audience will help decide whether you develop for one or both of these platforms.
Step 3: Wireframe and user stories.
You won’t know what your app’s missing until you really delve deeply in to how it will work. Your chosen agency should go through this phase with you, if they’re worth their salt. They will draw out your app on to an app wireframe, which is a visual representation of every function the app will perform.
The wireframe will create a map showing the navigation throughout the app, from opening it up to performing every function. This is a great way of working out how the app will work from a user’s perspective as well as finding areas that need to be added in to the app, to ensure a great user experience. The accompanying user stories are narratives explaining each and every function and what happens when a user selects a button on the app.
Usually wireframe and user stories are written in to an SOW (Statement of Work) document, which becomes the agreement between yourself and the app developer. This becomes the contract between yourself and the developers, so it’s vital to make sure it is 100% correct and that you’re happy with what has been promised for delivery.
Step 4: App Design.
The design of an app is critical – as it needs to be right for the prospective audience. Visually it needs to be engaging so that the user will enjoy their experience and want to engage with it, again and again. The design also needs to take in to consideration how the navigation is set out in the wireframe and ensure that the user experience is the best that it can possibly be.
Step 5: App Development.
The development of the app is the realisation of the wireframe and the user stories, which will guide how the app is developed. You need to make sure that the developers you choose have experience and pedigree in developing apps in a number of sectors and in the platform (OS) you need your apps made for.
Step 6: App UAT (User Acceptance Testing).
Once the app is developed, the developer should release the app to you for testing. At this stage, the app should be pretty much developed and it will be released to you in a closed environment, meaning it won’t be on an app store but will be made available on your phone.
You’ll need to test the app out yourself and let your staff feedback on it as well. A fresh pair of eyes might see things that you miss. This is the stage at which you need to make absolutely sure that the app is built as it was intended and is true to the app wireframe and user stories, as agreed in the SOW. If there are any areas in the app that you believe don’t meet the agreed standards, this is the time to speak up and let your developers know. Once you give the ok at UAT stage, it’s a lot harder to change things later!
Step 7: Final App Sign Off.
Once you’ve signed off at UAT stage, the developers will either make the required tweaks as requested by yourself or they will finalise the app, before sending it back to you for final test and sign-off.
Step 8: Make it Live!
Once you give the ok, the developers can upload your app on to the aps store/s for you. At this stage, they will require some information from you- like an app description for the app store page when it goes live.
Step 9: App Marketing.
There’s no point in having the best app in the world, if no one knows about it. It’s important to think about how to promote your app and let people know that it exists and what it does. This is a vitally important area that a lot of people don’t think about. Your app developers (if they know what they’re talking about) will be able to advise you about this.
Step 10: Give us a call.
You know you want to.