01.05.2017 | Clint Macklin

Guide to Enterprise Application Development

Demand for enterprise web application development is surpassing the supply. Why?

Every company is looking for ways to use technology to stay ahead. Here at Spire Digital, we call this digital transformation. More and more companies are going through digital transformation, providing their customers with better ways to do business with them. Recently, Gartner put out a report on this subject:

“Old styles of application development simply can’t deliver the results a digital-age business needs. New, innovative and disruptive technologies come up all the time. Enterprise, application, and information architectures must be built in a way to quickly leverage new capabilities and seize new opportunities.”

Successful enterprise web applications should have intuitive user experiences, work across multiple devices, be secure, and be maintainable. If you aren’t sure how to make this happen, then this blog is for you!

Start With Definition

No matter what type of application you are developing, you should always start by clearly defining your end goals and expected business value. Create a list of specific functionality your application should be able to perform and how that will help your customer.

If you are struggling to define functionality or unsure what your customers want you to build, I recommend a couple of exercises:

- Product Innovation Lab

A Product Innovation Lab applies user-centered design in a scientific process of testing your ideas: establish hypotheses about your product, interview potential customers, and prove or disprove each hypothesis in turn to learn what the people who will be using your product really want. Ultimately, in a Product Innovation Lab, you define the features of a product that not only satisfy, but delight, your customers.

- Design Lab

A Design Lab consists of a series of design sprints followed by live-user testing to create simple, elegant interfaces that meet the needs of your users. Business goals, personas, task analysis, and success metrics combine to deliver a fully tested, interactive prototype for the main tasks in your application.

Both of those exercises are offered at Spire Digital, but they could be performed internally as well.

Select A Developer

Who will build the product? Will it be your internal team? Will you outsource it to a third party? Attempting the project completely in-house could be tough, straining teams that are already busy on other, more mission critical projects. This could likely cost you more time and more money in the long run. Meanwhile, a third party can offer you unfettered resources, ready to jump into action, as well as a fresh point of view on what you’re building and how to build it.

Part of your decision making process will be figuring out estimated costs. In general, depending on the complexity of your product, outsourced developers rates range around $125-$200 per hour in the US, Canada, and the UK on average. There is also the option of outsourcing to other countries like Poland, Romania, India, Vietnam or China. Rates there could be considerably lower, but there are definitely major risks associated with following this path. Internally, your CFO, controller, or accountant should have an idea of what each employee costs per hour. In all cases, developers should be more than happy to give you an estimate of how many hours the project will take to complete.

Choose The Right Platform

Choosing the right platform on which to build your application is an important decision. Be sure to communicate closely with all parties involved to evaluate such factors as price, functionality, preferences/capabilities of internal resources, scalability, compatibility with existing applications and products used.

Here are some of the more popular platforms to evaluate:

Choose The Right Build Model

Developing a custom enterprise web application with the involvement of multiple parties and teams can be challenging. Make sure you choose a model that best suits your needs. At Spire, we use a KanBan/Agile/Lean mash up. In a nutshell, this approach entails the following principles:

Spire follows the lean mantra of building in quality at every step. A series of checks and balances helps ensure that quality is the driving factor. We do this through continuous integration and deployment: we develop and release each feature as it is completed, but not before that feature passes a rigorous process of regression, security, and unit testing. Always make sure that your company or the company you hire to work on your application takes code review and testing very seriously.

Onward

Enterprise web application development is a complicated process. However, if you follow the steps I’ve outlined, you’re well on your way to actualizing the digital transformation your company deserves. If you want to learn more about how Spire Digital can help you, check out our product page.

Clint Macklin

Director of Strategic Partnerships

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