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More than ever, customers are connecting with business using their mobile phones. This rapid new development has left many companies scrambling, trying to create mobile apps for their customers or their workers. We’ll explain why mobile apps create so much value, and how to go about beginning an app development project.

Why are many companies creating apps?

In the early days of the mobile app industry, mobile apps were looked upon as part of a branding exercise by small-to-medium businesses; apps often came out of the marketing department. The real opportunity with mobile apps is to make them part of a process designed to increase market share and boost the organization’s bottom line with better customer engagement.

“Business owners are becoming wise to the marketing power a well-designed, intuitive app can bring,” noted Small Business Trends. “From simplifying online purchases to providing easy-to-access information, the benefits are undeniable, which is why small businesses must develop mobile apps to stay competitive.”

Improved efficiency in their own organization is another reason more companies embrace customized mobile apps. “As people use apps for everything, businesses too are using apps to stay in trend. They use apps for employee communication, project management, accounting, customer relations management, sharing of data, managing inventory” and more, noted WhaTech.

And it’s not enough to just mobile-enable your internal web apps. “On average, employees may use 10 different tabs and three different browsers in a workday. Without a custom app, they will of course switch from one app to another,” which wastes money and time when compared to using a single customized app/platform to access everything.

Indeed, businesses of all types are creating their own apps. “These days you’ll notice that many small businesses you interact with in your everyday life have their own dedicated mobile app — be it the corner coffee shop or the beauty spa downtown,” noted Forbes. “These companies are ahead of the game when it comes to taking their marketing to the next level.” And it’s not just marketing that sees this: even small business are seeing the value of equipping their team with mobile apps that implement their business process, from out in the field to deep in the warehouse.

Challenges in mobile app development

Envisioning a useful app for your customers or employees is one thing. Actually bringing the software to life within a reasonable timeframe for your staff or for your marketing department is another thing altogether, and the process can be exceedingly difficult.

Businesses that have not managed any software development before may find it difficult to reconcile the activities of coders with branding/marketing requirements, and/or the needs of users. Building the right thing the first time take careful preparation. And your users’ expectations of quality and capability are high: because people now spend so much time on their phones, they have acquired high standards for apps in a very short amount of time. It is easy to create something that falls short.

A cookie-cutter approach to mobile app development that relies on white label software or amateurish templates for the most generic type of functionality just won’t do. “Businesses are mostly interested in building their own apps from the ground up, rather than use any templates or app builders. This practice has transferred to mobile apps, as well,” according to Beta News. “One of the reasons they do this is that they still need to do a lot to integrate back-end databases and applications into the mobile front-end.”

Outsource or work in-house?

For businesses that do not have a great deal of previous experience with app development, the correct choice will likely be to outsource the actual mobile app development work to experts.

Indeed, managing the process by yourself can mean getting to market much later than if you handed the project off to third-party developers. To get the best return on your app development investment, the smart move often turns out to involve finding outside experts with more experience than your internal team possesses, if you even have an internal team.

Be careful though – even if an outside team seems to have the requisite technical abilities to create your app, a truly successful software product is a lot more than just code. You’ll want a team with experience not just in creating apps, but in making them effective, and profitable.

Your relationship with an outsourced app development company will have to be very close for you to succeed. You will need to be crystal clear about your requirements and willing to spend a lot of time working to build something that fulfills your needs. Good app development firms will guide you through this process and let you know what is expected of you, but less effective or less experienced firms may allow communication difficulties to hamper your end results.

Few companies have the resources and the know-how to create a successful mobile app by themselves. But when you are picking a company to do your development work, make sure you trust their judgement and are comfortable partnering with them. The two of you will be in it for the long haul.

For more information about the many benefits to companies that outsource mobile application development to third party professionals or to consult with our experts about how to overcome the many pitfalls of software creation, please connect with Applied Visions today.