At APPrise Mobile, our mission is to provide companies with the ability to have their own branded app through which to communicate and distribute content to their employees and other external audiences, quickly and cost effectively. In speaking with hundreds of communications, HR and IT professionals at small, medium and enterprise organizations, one of the questions we frequently hear is whether a company should license software, like theEMPLOYEEapp, that is already built and ready to deploy or develop something on their own.
As companies head into their end-of-year budgeting season, an appropriate answer is, “it depends.” If you are flush with extra cash that can be spent on independent development or have the internal resources to build it on your own, then it might make sense to do just that. However, this then begs several additional questions. Here are a few to consider.
Let’s face it. App development, like any other kind of software development, can be as simple or complex as the solution desired. No matter what the end solution is intended to be, a significant amount of time must be spent concepting what the app should do, its functionality and features as well as ultimate end-user experience and interface. Who in your organization is going to take ownership of this – do they have the time to do so?
For companies with cash on hand to spend and who are able to outsource development, the ownership and responsibility will probably fall on the communications and HR professionals who have the business challenge they are looking to solve. But do they have time to manage this process? For companies that have their own internal development staff, should this responsibility be left to the developers without the oversight of those who have the appropriate domain expertise?
Another question to consider – how long might it take an independent or internal app developer to develop an app for Apple, Android and other mobile devices? Do you want to deploy in a month or two or do you want to wait longer? Keep in mind that each operating system requires a different development and source code.
Notwithstanding the resources available for self-development, we all know that mobile technology is rapidly evolving. Every year, Apple enhances its operating system and hardware as does Google and the various other mobile device manufacturers that incorporate the Android operating system into them (e.g. Samsung). Every time a new version of an operating system is updated or a new mobile device is launched, this requires that the mobile solution, regardless of whether it is self-developed or turn-key, work in the new environment.
As with anything new, problems inevitably occur – many of which cannot be anticipated before deployment. If a company decides to “build” rather than “buy,” consider the resources that will be need to troubleshoot and fix the “bugs.” If a solution doesn’t work properly and efficiently, it is likely that end users will simply not use it. When it comes to new technological solutions, first impressions are everything. How much might it cost for an ongoing maintenance plan? And, again, who is going to oversee it?
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Whether the ultimate decision is to build or buy, once the conclusion has been reached that a mobile technology solution is a go, the most important question to be asked and answered is what is its intended objective and will the ultimate product, bought or built, allow you to accomplish this goal.