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Enterprise App Development: What To Work On First?

Note: This post was first published in 2021.

Guiding Principles For Prioritizing Data-Driven Application Development
Desk with four laptops; three people's hands are shown and two are passing a document

Outlining the parameters of your enterprise application and product lifecycle is essential to the success of any business venture. Every web or mobile application has a unique set of requirements, and therefore every product needs a unique set of guiding principles to help prioritize those requirements.


The following are a few examples of how PixelEdge clients and other leading brands have used their own guiding principles to develop a product roadmap and perform prioritization.

Two phones showing two screens of the initial Venmo app, including the main menu and the transactions list





Venmo

Singular function


At launch, the popular payment solution Venmo had a singular benefit to the end user: it allowed friends to split bills quickly.








Two phones showing screens from the Thomson Reuters Middle-Market Fund, including a dashboard screen with market, portfolios, fund, and investee options, and a screen showing pie chart metrics for FSIC, including industry concentration and Security Type Concentration


Thomson Reuters Middle-Market Funds

Multiple primary functions

  1. Market research, events, and resources

  2. Portfolio metrics, historical pricing, and news

  3. Fund financials, dividends, and filings

  4. Investee mark to market + more











Two phones showing InKind Space screens, including My Actions on one, and My Tips, My Media, and My Resources on another



inKind Space

Hierarchical approach

Primarily allows patients and their network to request and/or give support. Secondarily provides non-medical tips, local resources, and curated content.








Complexity of Function

Some enterprise applications require more complexity than others. Stakeholders should ask themselves: Is the product geared towards a singular function, or does it have several important functions? If it is intended to be multi-function, are all functions necessary at launch? Could functionality grow over time with phased releases to the added functions?


Enterprise Application Development Processes

Development processes involve different types of actions. Knowing what action types are appropriate for your team helps with communications and task breakdown. Each team comes up with its own list of action types.


One client chose the following processes while developing their initial prototype:

  • R&D: research and develop

  • Design: create a technical design without having to do any coding

  • Tracer: initial coding to make sure there are no technical roadblocks and confirm assumptions

  • Code & Deploy: perform programming, QA, and deployment

  • UX: build the user interface


To evaluate prioritization, some business stakeholders may simply want to understand the product’s main features and the corresponding level of effort. By contrast, an implementation team working on a weekly iteration cycle would have different actions such as research & development, technical design, and usability. Below is an example of action types used by an implementation team.

List of action types: - Code and deploy: Analyst creates or edits a portfolio, - R&D: Share portfolio using company messenger, - Design: Comparative financial metrics for Borrowers in selected portfolio, - Tracer: Smart tables with search, filtering, sorting, and grouping, - UX: Usability design patterns for key Subscriber processes, -Code & Deploy: Subscriber creates or edits portfolio, -UX: Apply client color palette and design standards, - UX: Show breadcrumbs on all level 2 and level 3 pages.

Devices and Channels

Understanding what devices and channels will be supported at what time can also be valuable to driving appropriate prioritization. Is the intent to create a product that users will access on a laptop, a tablet, on their phones, or via some other mechanism (e.g. a kiosk)? If the goal is a laptop or desktop, is the channel via a desktop application or a browser? If the product is intended to be mobile-friendly, is iOS or Android needed, or both?


Possible channels you may want to consider:

  • Web: Popular browsers running on various operating systems

  • Smartphones/Tablets: Android, Apple, and Microsoft

  • Desktop Application: Applications that run entirely on the device and not on the cloud

  • Smart Speakers: Devices that respond to natural language voice queries

  • Wearables: Smartwatches, fitness bands, etc.

  • IoT: Internet of Things


When thinking about your product roadmap, most companies decide to phase in all the devices and channels they want to support. Below is an example of how inKind Space mapped out theirs.

Product Roadmap for InKind Space, including Apha: - Web-only smartphone; Beta: - iOS and Android App on smartphone (A1-priority), -Web on smartphone (A2-priority), - Web on laptop (B-priority); Launch (V1.0) - iOS and Antroid App on smartphone (A1-priority), - Web on laptop (A2-priority), - Web on smartphone (A3-priority), - All other devices including tablets (B-priority); V1.1 - iOS and Android App on smartphone (A1-priority), - Web on laptop (A2-priority), -Web on smartphone (A3-priority), - All other devices including tablets (B-priority), - iOS and Android Apps on tables (B-priority)

Frequency of Use & User Interface

Understanding the nexus between the different user roles and the frequency of expected use can be valuable for prioritizing product development. An enterprise application that is used by internal client staff on a regular basis will have different requirements versus an application that is used by consumers with a lower frequency.


The screenshot below shows a financial analysis product that is used by some end users for a few weeks every quarter — around the time new financial reporting data is made public. This usage pattern impacts the prioritization process, as it means that the enterprise application should be easy to use, with intuitive access to all features, data, news, and reports.


Financial analysis product used a few weeks every quarter, displaying Ares Capital Corporation results for December 31, 2017 including Industry Concentration and Security Concentration pie charts


By contrast, the screenshot below shows the admin dashboard for the same financial analysis solution. Administrators use the dashboard on a daily basis. Hence, the admin dashboard has different needs and prioritization requirements. While the user interface has to be functional, it does not require as much design effort. A few users working on the product regularly will learn the product, so UX may be a lower priority compared to the example above.


Administrative dashboard for the financial analysis solution, including overview of number of articles, events, externals, and data, with bar chart for externals and articles, and pie chart for articles, externals, and events


Enterprise Application Development Pace

Understanding the pace at which you would like product development to proceed is a piece in the prioritization puzzle. Is it a sprint to finish V1.0 and then slow progress after V1.0? Or is V1.0 just the start, while subsequent versions will cover more features, channels, and devices?


Typical stages of application development:

  • Alpha: Initial release with basic functionality

  • Beta: Release used by a select end-users only

  • MVP: Minimum viable product with features useful to end-users but lacking other features important for wider adoption of the product

  • V1.0: Release for distribution to all appropriate end-users

  • V1.1: Subsequent release with tweaks and additional functionality

  • V2.0: An upgrade with major updates or changes


study by Stanford University found that up to 90% of the overall cost can come after the launch of V1.0.


The diagram below shows the application development pace for Thomson Reuters' middle-market funds product.

Application development page for Thomson Reuters middle-market funds product: Alpha month 1,2,3 Beta 4,5,6, MVP 7,8 V1.0 9, V1.1 10, V1.2 11, V1.3 12, V1.413,14, V1.5 15, 16 V2.0 17-21

 

Written by Ali Usman, CEO of PixelEdge.


Are there guiding principles you feel we have missed? Something unclear? We would love to hear your feedback.





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