Managing business systems in an app driven world

managing business systems in an app driven world.jpg

Mobile apps are revolutionising how we do business.

Bring your own device (BYOD) is making significant in-roads in the business world, as increasing numbers of employees choose to bring their own smartphones and tablets to their workplace. It’s estimated that 70% of employees will conduct work on their personal devices by 2018.

Mobile apps allow staff to access and manage information anytime, anywhere. And there’s a wealth of solutions to choose from. In 2015 Apple’s app store recorded 1.5 million apps, while Android users had 1.6 million at their disposal. With a simple “tap” of the download button, business owners can make their operations more efficient, convenient and profitable.

While the solution rests at the fingertips of business owners – the challenge lies in managing the transition to apps.

Follow these four steps to help you manage the transition of your business operations and set up a mobile-friendly ecosystem.

Step 1: Understand the key issues within your business

Before considering a software solution, ask yourself why are you looking for new software? List out the issues that are having an adverse impact on efficiency. Are tasks not being completed due to miscommunication? Is too much time being spent on administrative tasks? Is editing documents putting too much strain on your senior employees? Alternatively, are documents getting lost in overcomplicated storage systems?

Whatever the scenario, narrow down your business' pain-points to get a crystal clear understanding of the issues that need to be solved. Once you’ve built your list, prioritise these challenges. Estimate each one's impact on profitability and focus on resolving the top issues.

Step 2: Decide whether an app can solve your issues

After you’ve identified the challenge you’d like to solve it’s time to figure out what type of software can address it.

To start, pinpoint where problems arise within each business process. Take the time to map out the current workflow and ask employees where hurdles crop up. After examining the workflow you may find that it is complicated and can be scaled back. Or perhaps staff aren’t following all of the steps required to complete the activity. In this instance, it’s not the process that's the issue it’s a lack of knowledge, which is easily resolved through training.

If complications within the business system can’t be resolved through training, or through revising the workflow, it’s time to turn to a software solution.

Business owners have an infinite number of apps at their disposal; everything from financial services, HR management and marketing and sales processes have been moved to cloud-based apps. This move to the cloud has levelled the playing field of the business landscape. Nowadays the cost of implementing applications is cheaper than traditional software. Small businesses are able to introduce advanced, cost-effective solutions, which allow them to compete against large corporations. Building a competitive edge comes down to choosing the right application for your business.

Step 3: Do your due diligence around app selection

For an application to be a cost-effective solution for your business it’s essential to get the right fit the first-time around. While the cost of licensing is low, the cost of changing courses, in the case of making the wrong decision, is high. Luckily there are tried-and-tested steps your business can follow to ensure the right software is chosen.

  1. Identify the features needed and compare them against the selected apps.
  2. Determine whether the selected apps integrate with the software that's already in use. If your solutions are not compatible with one another it will disrupt your whole ecosystem. For instance, if you were looking to improve task management you wouldn't want a project management app that didn’t feature email integration. Why? Because allocating and tracking tasks on the go would still be difficult.
  3. Ensure a cross-platform solution. The application needs to run on whatever devices your team use – whether it be iOS, Android, Blackberry OS, Windows Phone or laptops and desktops.
  4. Chose a solution with an easy-to-use interface. To ensure minimal disruption to your activities employees need to learn the solution quickly and easily. If a free trial is available test the app in action before committing to it.  

TIP: To get a better idea of how the app works in action also consult with fellow business owners who have successfully implemented the solution.  

Step 4: Making the transition

So you’ve got a solution locked in and ready to go and now it’s time to make the change – what do you need to watch out for?

The use of apps within a business setting poses a risk to information security. In the quest to improve productivity and efficiency, most employees will unwittingly download additional external solutions. This puts company data at risk of being hacked and corrupted. And unfortunately IT departments are struggling to establish mobile device management policies. Only 19% of departments check applications for viruses and malware. Somewhat scarily, only 22% realise that not checking apps can put a company at risk.

To successfully transition your process to an application data must first be secured. To ensure the solution is used your organisation must be encouraged to embrace the “mobile mindset.” Below are a few ways you can achieve this.

Safeguard your data.

    • Implement a company app-store where apps can be standardised and secured behind a company firewall. This will protect the company’s information and will consolidate business tools so data isn’t fragmented across multiple solutions.
    • IT departments can also employ existing enterprise mobility management tools to protect and manage data.

Shift the organisation to a mobile mindset.

Staff need to see the transition as an opportunity, not a friction point. Unfortunately this is a trademark of time-poor individuals who are still getting used to digital technology. To help staff embrace the change, and actually use the application, this cultural resistance must be shifted.

Introducing initiatives such as incentives to top users and circulating success stories will encourage company-wide acceptance. Additionally providing face-to-face training, peer mentoring, on-demand training resources (or a blend of all) will provide access to skills. This will boost confidence and guarantee staff embrace the change.

CeBIT Australia SME Summary Report