How to plan a successful enterprise application deployment?
Today, a large number of companies give their staff and employees the possibility to access advanced digital tools through enterprise applications. How to ensure that employees have access to these apps and actually use them? How do you deploy new business applications on a medium to large scale? In this article, we present the key points to consider for a successful deployment of enterprise apps.
1 – The importance of enterprise apps
Before you start, it is important to remember what business apps are made for: in the professional context, a business application will allow employees or collaborators of a company to have private and secure access to very specific tools, depending on their position, sector, hierarchical level, mission… These applications, which they will have to download on their smartphone, will allow them to optimize their activity, organize more easily their schedules with their team and interlocutors, regulate their work more efficiently… They can also allow the implementation of concrete actions regarding their activities (if they are workers or engineers in the construction sector, for example, these apps may allow the use of valuable information or technical tools that will facilitate their jobs). In a simpler and more obvious way, they will also be able to promote exchanges with other employees, the hierarchy, customers…
In short – these apps are essential tools that it is absolutely impossible to do without, and that must be implemented on employees’ smartphones in the simplest and most effective way possible. Knowing that the size of the mobile fleets concerned is extremely variable (it can range from a few dozen devices concerned to several hundred thousand), how do we proceed with deployment in a concrete way?
2 – Deployment: seems easy, but is not…
As you probably know: the distribution of these business apps is done through business app stores (for those who are interested, you can read more about that here). Once the business app store is set up, and that employees have access to a whole range of applications via this store, one would tend to think that the provision of a new application is almost automatic. They are not completely wrong: the deployment of a new application can be automated (and it is strongly advised to proceed that way – more about that down below).
However, this does not mean that deployment is done with eyes closed: certain technical requirements must be met, security requirements must (of course) be met, and future users must be made aware of a planned deployment – in the case of bugs, their feedback will be essential to solves problems in a short amount of time.
3 – The importance of deployment automation
By automation, we mean that a deployment must follow a few precise, programmable, and automatable rules, which make it possible to avoid manual errors. If the deployments are successive, numerous and complicated, there is a significant risk that some of these deployments will fail – or at least fall considerably behind schedule. Such delays cannot be an option, especially in the case of a fleet of several thousand devices. On the contrary, you should rely on a scheduled deployment, which will allow you to secure the entire process. And imagine if you had an application that was a bit complex to deploy: programming time and technical checks would take days or even weeks! This is unrealistic and has no interest for your company, nor for your employees, who, logically, will have an interest in using the app as soon as possible – if they’re aware of its existence.
Of course, the brain behind the deployment will always remain human: you are not going to replace your designers with any type of AI. However, once the app has been designed, developed and beta-tested, an automated deployment process will avoid many errors and will speed up the deployment of the concerned apps.
4 – Adapting to the platform constraints (IOS or Android)
The technical constraints of application deployment will vary depending on the platform concerned. While Android is known to be less constraining, IOS offers infinite possibilities in terms of possibilities – however, there is a very precise charter and a certification system concerning deployments, that will quickly give you headaches, if you do not strictly adhere to it. Indeed, Apple is known to quickly ban developers who have omitted something in their rules. In order to avoid any problems, you will have to create certificates that will be used by your applications for distribution. Even if your certificate is valid for up to 3 years, your mobile provisioning profile will expire sooner. You need to update your business applications at least once a year and your beta application at least once every three months. Yes, it’s a bit complicated, but that’s how it is!
If you need to deploy one or more applications as part of your activities, don’t miss out on a few essential points that must be taken into account. First of all, you need to define the purpose of your app, what it will be used for and who it will be aimed at. The answers to these questions will guide you in your choices concerning the application itself (should it be native? Hybrid? Web?), in the choice of the enterprise mobile management solution (MDM, MAM…) but also in the way you will organize its deployment on a more or less large scale.
At this stage, automation will be highly recommended, and you will obviously have to take into account the constraints of the platforms concerned, depending on your users’ devices, especially if they are using their own devices (BYOD). These advices are only the first steps, so do not hesitate to contact us for the practical implementation!