The Best Practices for Building Successful Enterprise Mobile Apps

As the user engagement for mobile applications continues to grow, more businesses are recognising mobility as a growing priority and are starting to actively integrate enterprise mobile apps and devices into their internal workflows.

According to Deloitte, having a more mobile-friendlier workplace can help employees become more productive and encourage flexible working. 60% of respondents emphasised easier and faster access to information and improved work efficiency because of mobile technology, 49% appreciated the ability for flexible work, and 49% shared they were able to better collaborate with colleagues.

While enterprise mobile apps are proven to become key to workplace productivity, we have compiled a list of best practices to help you with their design, development and deployment. The recommendations we have listed below are based on our mobile development expertise, as well as the experience of designing and developing My ELEKS, our own corporate mobile app that serves the needs of our 1,400 employees.

Find out the key ingredients for building an app your employees will love.

1. Translating your employees’ needs and your business objectives into functionality

My ELEKS was planned to serve not only as a resource for contact information but also an additional channel for corporate communication. We wanted the app to grant instant mobile access to important information such as the quality management system guidelines, public emergency information, corporate rules and policies.

The main goal of the My ELEKS application was to improve and facilitate communication inside the company as well as save time on daily reporting and basic time management activities. Here’s how we implemented these goals with the functionality:

All contact information for all employees available in one place. The app allows users to quickly find colleagues on Skype, search for email contacts and contact any ELEKS associate by phone right on the go. You can also search for contacts, add people to your favourites for instant access, as well as get additional info about employees including their position, their department, the senior collegue they report to, as well as some personal data such as their date of birth, their office location and the room they work in. All this data allows for more efficient communication, but also gives the chance to get to know your colleagues better, even those you rarely interact with on a regular basis.

Quick access to frequently used resources and policies. The app provides employees with access to the corporate internal news portal and the HR team’s monthly newsletter. ELEKS is able to reach out to all employees at any time, at any location, with important company updates and news. According to Statista, in 2018 the total daily time that American adults spend with mobile media was around 203 minutes (3 hours and 23 minutes). Using the mobile app helps ensure that any message has a broader reach and a higher level of engagement. It also saves employees’ time and ensures that they stay in the loop.

Functionality for instant meeting scheduling and room booking. One of the most used features is called “Book a Meeting”. It’s very simple to use and allows users to choose different locations and arrange meetings with colleagues on the go. Any time you need to catch up with somebody for an urgent meeting, you can use the app to find out the closest available slot in their calendar and which rooms are free to book for that time. You can see if the person is already in a meeting, on vacation, on sick leave or has reported a day off/ is out of office. This feature resulted in improved work productivity, time management, and accountability.

Easy-to-use and flexible mobile reporting system. The second most popular feature related to productivity improvement is the ability to report working hours via mobile in a simple, streamlined way. With the My ELEKS app, it’s very easy to report working hours/completed tasks on the go as well as manage business trips (view and report tasks and subtasks concerning business trips, upload receipts to report the subtasks, request support and assistance around arranging business trips, etc.).

Interactive communication around corporate events, celebrations, and internal employee activities. While preparing for the corporate party, new easy-to-use functionality was implemented for employees to have the ability to confirm if they plan to attend the party, view an interactive map and agenda, receive notifications and vote for the corporate ELEKS Awards using the application. Also, we implemented the “Birthday Greetings” feature allowing to send awesome greeting cards and receive reminders so you would never miss your friend’s birthday. This feature worked miracles promoting a warm atmosphere and friendly relationships inside the company.

2. Integrating your enterprise mobile apps with internal tools and systems

My ELEKS was developed using Xamarin. Xamarin allows for the development of cross-platform applications, and one of the platform’s main advantages is that you can reuse the business logic for both Android and iOS, so there’s no need to develop it twice. If you wish to know more about the pros and cons of developing your next app with Xamarin, check out our article Building a Mobile Strategy with Xamarin: Win or Loss?

We designed My ELEKS to be open for integration with our other internal systems to facilitate workflows and make the best use of the data we already have. We used SharePoint to enable user registration. This functionality was needed to prepare for our annual corporate party, and we used it many times later allowing employees to register for other corporate events and activities. We also used SharePoint for saving ISO documentation.

We integrated My ELEKS with our internal online app for worktime reporting to enable tracking working hours on the go, we used Jira to report business trips and Exchange to book meetings. The biggest part of data, including employee personnel file and photos, is synchronised with our corporate desktop app and the Active Directory. Here’s how the integration of My ELEKS looks like with our other corporate apps:

Enterprise Mobile Apps
My ELEKS app integration

3. Putting users at the centre of product design

So, how can you make sure your employees actually use your app? You need to make their needs and requirements your priority. Provide the functionality that tackles their daily pains and makes their lives easier. This is the key to developing enterprise mobile apps that employees love and use on a day-to-day basis.

We aimed to build the experience around two core principles: friendly product design and usability. After the app was released, we conducted several surveys and user interviews to gather feedback. Continuous feedback is a must for developing a meaningful and convenient product design. After each release, we collected feedback and support requests from the users through the Feedback and Support systems. Every employee can share his/her thoughts about the application, suggest improvements or get support concerning any problems with the app.

Before it’s implemented, any new functionality passes the usability test. Analytics tools help us track a list of events after implementation to ensure proper app maintenance and ongoing improvement with each new version.

One of the most important aspects we needed to keep in mind while designing and building our app is employee privacy. We needed to make sure that all the data is kept confidential. An application requires user authorisation through Active Directory, done in the same way as all the corporate accesses at ELEKS. Before every release, all new features are approved by the security department so any data-sensitive features would meet security standards.

During the two years that the My ELEKS app has been in use, its functionality has expanded considerably and it has been very well received — 74% of all ELEKS employees have installed the application and use it every day.

One more bonus: the My ELEKS corporate application was recognised as the Best Corporate Media of Ukraine 2018 for innovation, quality and engineering excellence.

My ELEKS app: our results, key achievements and next steps

Having moved from application idea and need analysis to the ready-to-use solution, we have distinguished some essential best practices you can follow for building and deploying successful corporate enterprise mobile apps.
To sum up, the key aspects you need to consider are:

  • In-depth research and analysis of users’ needs as the first step of your development process.
  • An architecture that allows for streamlined integration with other corporate tools and systems.
  • User-friendly design that makes user interactions as streamlined and easy as possible.
  • Meticulous usability testing and security testing for every new feature you implement.
  • Customer feedback should be constant to drive improvements and ease internal adoption.

Following these best practices with the My ELEKS app, we managed to create value for our users and for the company as well. We simplified the reporting and meeting arrangement processes, as well as achieved the desired level of mobility to save time and resources.

Having all the valuable data accommodated in one place allows ELEKS employees to access up-to-date information whenever they need it, from any location, which makes it easier for the company to communicate the latest news and important corporate updates.

In the future, we plan to implement the functionality to cover activities associated with our corporate discount programme featuring bonuses and discounts available to ELEKS’ employees with multiple local customer goods and service providers, as well as dining, shopping and leisure activities.

Also, we plan to augment the app with the company’s office map to provide newcomers with better onboarding and adaptation. Moreover, such functionality can help us improve the efficiency of the conference rooms’ use.

And last but not least, the My ELEKS app helps us foster corporate culture inside the company, stimulate open, efficient communication, maintain transparent working processes, as well as facilitate accountability and efficiency.

Our experience can be adapted to meet the needs of other organisations that are concerned with time management, reporting flexibility, improving communication inside the company and boosting engagement.

Should you have any questions on how you can design and build comprehensive enterprise mobile apps to serve the needs of your organisation, we will be happy to talk through your questions. Don’t hesitate to get in touch with us!

By Yevheniya Noha (ELEKS Business Analyst) and Aliaksandra Butkevich (Experience Designer at ELEKS)