The path to developing a custom B2B application

The proliferation of mobile applications (apps) has changed our business and personal lives in so many ways.  In most cases, apps have made our lives richer and more productive. But apps, by their conventient nature, can also command our attention in ways that impact our lives and productivity in negative ways. Love ‘em or hate ‘em, apps are here to stay and will become an increasingly important tool in our daily routines. The market for business-to-business apps is booming, because the right app can help boost employee productivity through better utilization of their mobile devices. As the power of our networks and connected devices increases, he reach and power of mobile apps , running on ever more capable platforms, continues to increase as well.

Recognizing this trend more companies are considering creation of their own mobile app(s). If you’re among this group, here are a few things you need to know to make the process successful.

What to know before you begin

Before you begin developing your custom B2B app, take a moment to recognize that while you are certainly the one pushing this project forward, you will have to consider the functional requirements of your user base.  This is a first step in establishing scope and requirements that will eventually feed into a cost equation your CFO is eager to review, approve and include in the corporate budget. I am being optimistic here.

It is also important to understand any compliance or security considerations applicable to your company or industry as you plan and lock down the requirements. 

Finally, consider how you’re going to get your app noticed. If your goal is to have others use the app outside your company, simply putting it on the appropriate app store is not enough to stand out. You may need the support of a marketing initiative. You should have considered these items before proceeding as they will all factor in the success of your app.

Determine your platform

Android or iOS?  Before that question can be answered, first consider whether the application should be native or non-native. The answer to this question can be determined by the requirements. In general, the application will be native if requirements indicate it will access mobile hardware features like the camera or GPS tracking. Data only apps may be best implemented as responsive web apps. Now onto the Android or iOS question.  If an app will be used by a wide population of users, the answer is generally both iOS and Android. If a less diverse user base, or for applications that are distributed with hardware selected by the developer or user, one or the other can be chosen. This is often the case with company specific B2B apps. You should consult with your technology team and end users to determine which solution is best for your company and its needs.

Find a development partner you can trust

Your custom software development partner will help bring your app to life. So how do you pick the right one? Look for a vendor  that truly understands your requirements and business needs and has the track record and ability to develop mobile applications.

Once you’re satisfied with their initial understanding of your industry and your goal, you can talk process. All software developers utilize a software development methodology which ranges somewhere between chaos and highly defined, A highly defined, yet flexible agile methodology will ensure you’re an integral part of the development process with maximum visibility, allowing you to make tasking, budget and timeline decisions as needed. Process questions can be followed up with questions pertaining to how the firm will conduct quality testing initiatives and ongoing support.

Finally, ask where the work will be done. Many firms do their development overseas, which could lead to communication issues with the development team. At the same time, other firms working in major metropolitan areas will keep your project local but will be more expensive. You can weigh these options for yourself and explore alternate models like rural outsourcing to help control your costs while keeping your project in the United States.

Think about the future

While your initial app hasn’t even been created yet, it’s never too early to think about the future. Consult with your development partner to learn more about their process for ongoing support. A properly architected application will ensure future updates can be performed efficiently and in a cost effective manner.

If you have any more questions about custom app development for the B2B market, please contact us today.

About Saturn Systems

Saturn SystemsSaturn Systems is an entirely U.S. based software engineering firm that provides a broad range of services, from project-based development and quality assurance testing to fully integrated staff augmentation teams. Saturn's Rural Outsourcing model couples the lower cost of doing business in Duluth, MN, with an experienced engineering team - making Saturn an attractive alternative to high-priced metro firms and the inherent difficulties of offshore services.

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