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How to jumpstart stagnating app development processes

It happens to even the most innovative organizations: The creative juices stop flowing, and progress comes to a standstill. In the fast-paced, high octane world of app development, the constant speed and forward movement can trip a team up. Heightening requirements and demanding user bases can create problems never before considered. Non-IT business leaders can put pressure on developer teams to deliver at higher volumes and with shorter lifecycles. The act of simply keeping up can diminish opportunities for creative experimentation.

So how can app developers recharge their batteries and take their programming process to new heights? Taking a step back and reconsidering the elements that make an app thrive for diverse users can help programmers understand how these elements are changing in accordance with new business developments. Additionally, investing in programs and other foundational elements that can perform many of the more mundane tasks of the software development cycle can stimulate further innovation and give programmers more space with which to try out new features.

The consumerization of enterprise apps
Traditionally, the complexity of enterprise apps far outstripped anything that a user might see at home. Unless people had a very specific interest or hobby, they were unlikely to use software tools with much more advanced functionality than the basic Excel spreadsheet or creative software. In the enterprise, on the other hand, they would use powerful, multi​-layered resource management, collaboration and data analysis tools.

However, the last few years have seen the rise of smartphones, which brought a corresponding paradigm shift. Business end users are now much more accustomed to utilizing robust software for personal pursuits, whether in a creative discipline, personal productivity or gaming. This change has driven more familiarity with apps and the different tasks they can serve, but have also given users more opportunity to develop personal tastes and preferences where app functionality is concerned. This can present difficulties for self-service application developers in the enterprise, but as SD Times contributor Himanshu Sereen asserted, these software apps represent an incredible source of insight for enterprise developers struggling to define their next app objectives.

"The way in which a back-end developer presents information in a UI may seem natural to the programmer, but for business users who depend on quick access to reports and features, their approach can feel unnatural," Sereen wrote. "Development teams are from a different world than a sales force. To create valuable apps for business users, back-end teams work hand in hand with designers who understand what employees need."

Stronger and more meaningful alignment between developers and users facilitates the creation of report designer tools that satisfy self-service end-user needs from the beginning, instead of continuously fixing the app after its debut to better meld user expectations and the developers' vision.

Change the way of thinking
A reviewed and renewed approach to how app development is considered in the enterprise can also drive transformative change. As Enterprise Apps News contributor Jim Casey wrote, many companies continue to view app development in the same way as hardware and other IT: merely as a cost center, instead of as a source of bottom-line business development.

"With budget being a main reason that apps aren't being developed across the enterprise, it's time to stop looking at the app as a cost center," Casey asserted. "Instead of thinking about how much your app costs to develop or how much you'll spend maintaining mobile apps across the enterprise, IT decision-makers need to view enterprise mobile apps as a way to save time or generate revenue."

By considering enterprise apps as integral to key business processes, rather than solely as a tool, organizations can break free of entrenched habits and generate new value from their app development approach.


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