Enterprise app development is more than simply building an app for a business – an enterprise developer must account for a multitude of challenges, including complex and vast internal systems, legacy software, manual processes, deploying within an already existing environment, and much more.
Having the ability to quickly integrate a corporation’s highly intricate and intertwined internal business systems within a single mobile software solution requires an entirely different skill set than other forms of software development; it necessitates that the developer understands both the corporation’s systems as well as their app’s system architecture.
In short, there’s a big difference between developing an app for an entrepreneur with an idea, or an enterprise level business with a plan for complete mobile integration throughout their existing systems.
Developing for enterprise
Successful deployment in an enterprise environment is akin to changing a car’s tire while maintaining speed – but with careful planning, clear documentation, and the creation of replicative test environments, it can be achieved.
The following are processes most enterprises should consider when planning for the development of a system-integrating app:
- Change management
- Project management
- Approval gates
- Environment integration
Also be aware that for your own internal IT department, a software development project precludes the signs of increased risk and systems maintenance – below, you’ll find steps your development partner can take in order to minimize the burden put on your own IT department.
Structuring an app to the enterprise environment requires significant communication and documentation – the ultimate goal of any enterprise software development is to ensure your development partner properly manages the project, so you own IT department can continue to focus on ITSM and ITIL.
In order to achieve this, your development partner should always provide you with a statement of work that covers all assumptions – this helps to ensure time spent in development is used efficiently, and helps alleviate speed bumps if changes arise such as an increase in burn rate.
There is no such thing as too much documentation – it’s a good idea to make it a rule that in order for any change to pass through your change approval and governance gates, the change must include supporting documentation. This helps to take some of the burden of learning an entirely new system away from your internal IT department.
Doing so will also both simplify and quicken the process of ultimately handing off management of your new enterprise software to your internal IT department – the proverbial changing of the tire.
Before any development begins, it’s important to make sure your BSA has throughly run through the entirety of the proposed app’s feature set, systems architecture, process structure, and risk assessment. After the entirety of the tech stack is defined (define your tech stack as early as possible), and requirements gathering is complete (for enterprise apps, this usually consists of large quantities of data aggregation), development can begin.
Deploying in the enterprise environment
Most enterprise systems are spread out across multiple environments – requiring communication between multiple types of applications, devices, APIs, and data.
Gone are the days when an ESB (enterprise service bus) would suffice – this centralized methodology of technology and teams causes a bottleneck in the flow of information and delay integration between the components of your business systems. A distributed system architecture with multiple reusable endpoints such as this is both more robust and more adaptive than the old ESB model as well.
In order to effectively integrate with an environment that allows for communication between multiple systems and layers, you’ll need to ensure your development partner allocates enough time to test your under-development app in a replicative environment. If your environment exists on premise or in the cloud, you’ll need to account for that during testing. Utilizing all devices that will be integrated – from routers to smartphones – is essential too.
To fully integrate your various systems, you’ll need to make use of messaging, application connectors, data streams, enterprise integration patterns, and APIs throughout your enterprise environment – depending on your data and architecture needs, some of these may be unnecessary.
Messaging provides a channel for the various components in a distributed system through which to communicate with each other. This allows components to both send and receive messages in different languages, compliers, and even operating systems – messages can all be read with the use of one unified format and protocol.
These architectural elements provide the rules for how components interact with each other. Because they are standard class connections that are customizable to APIs, they can be quickly integrated with new endpoints.
Aptly named, data streams provide an avenue for a continuous flow of data that applications distributed throughout your architecture can add to or consume from, independent of the data that is being transferred.
Enterprise integrations patterns
Referred to as EIPs, these are collections of solutions to common integration problems – these rely heavily on proper and through software documentation.
Application programming interfaces
APIs are a set of tools, definitions, and protocols that provides functionality in the form of a feature set by communicating with, and requesting data from a different set of software that does not require implementation.
How to choose your enterprise development partner
While it may be tough to convince your CFO, it’s much more important to pick the development company with a robust management structure and portfolio over the developer with the lower hourly rate.
Knowing your app is properly managed during development is a much better factor for determining the total cost of its development than comparing hourly rates. Mismanaged software can lead to delays measured in months, or sometimes, even years.
Take this example of the nationally-renowned web dev company Accenture and their mismanagement of website redevelopment for the car rental company Hertz. Hertz paid the web developer $32 million – and still didn’t have a functional website.
If you want to ensure smooth development for your enterprise-level app, always choose the partner that displays the most knowledge about your specific needs as a business. If you’d like examples of how enterprise apps can improve your company’s efficiency, culture, and other aspects, we’ve written quite a few on the topic: