Five questions to ask yourself before investing in an enterprise mobile app

A June 2015 press notice from Gartner Research entitled Demand for enterprise mobile apps will outstrip available development capacity five to one concludes that enterprise app development will outstrip all other IT efforts by 2019.

However, between now and then, and though the original Gartner concerns are still undefined,it’s probably better to be safe than sorry. Consequently, we thought we’d explore five questions that any enterprise decision-maker might consider before deciding what is, and what isn’t, worth a dev effort.

1. What is the app supposed to do?

What appears to be a ‘good app idea’ during last night’s happy hour is not the same concept when cast in the harsh light of the following morning.

Effective commercial app development typically appears to require fairly simple and inexpensive processes, when in fact this presumption is entirely false. And, given the commercial apps constellation in today’s market, why would anyone attempt to leverage an internal development anyway?

These two subordinate points offer an obvious conclusion: make sure that any decision is well-researched, including all practical, financial, and implied values, before you make a move.

Recommended reading: our comprehensive guide to the 70 features you should consider when selecting ERP.

2. Is the effort driven by abstract notions or a business fact?

This query further supports the earlier practical conclusion. For example, putting an active inventory pick-list up on an app platform would seem to be a pretty good idea, right? But as a matter of achieving a commercial business value, can you prove it?

In the case, where will business value be realized; internally, externally or both, and what value metrics will be realized? Is the effort going to be guided by a goal of speed, efficiency, commercial value, customer service or all the above?

Both of these go to establishing a set of business statistics that represent the real cost of thinking about the cost/value of an app dev round, versus actually getting down to the nuts and bolts of achieving it.

3. Can you chart a clear path to an evergreen ROI?

If your mobile app development costs are $X dollars and Z months to complete (time is money after all), and you expect a return of $Y dollars in X quarters, will the math work out successfully? The only way to be sure is to, yet again, drill down until you are confident of the empirical result; but if you can’t, abort the effort sooner rather than later.

4. Do you have disposable development budget available now?

This financial constraint is entirely based on practicality. For example, the average vanilla app cost ranges from $7K to $10K per iteration; do you have the budget to spare? Again, don’t jump unless you’re able to leap, but in any case, always be prepared to marginalize additional cost risk whenever possible. If the money isn’t available at-hand, then hold tight until it is.

5. Who is going to do the work?

This consideration tends to lean toward time limitations, although hard costs must always be calculated as well. Do you have the internal resources, with the right depth of experience, to execute a significant app effort? Or is what you want done below your internal human resources curve? Again, you will have to decide on the best course of action, but questions 1-4 should help support a well-researched final conclusion.

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Rick Carlton

About the author…

Rick Carlton dba PRRACEwire, has worked as a tech journalist, writer, researcher, editor and publisher for many years. In addition to his editorial work, Rick has also served as a C-Level executive/consultant for a wide-range of private and public sector U.S. and International companies.

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Rick Carlton