How to build apps that deliver high business value?
What is business value?
Business value is the outcomes expected from the app which can be figured out as an answer to the question of what value the app brings to my business. Remember an app is a powerful business tool and the measurement of success is no different from any other key business metrics.
App owners often focus more on the app design, speed, security, and features, it is imperative that your primary focus needs shift toward the business goals and KPIs.
Imagine a business that receives a high volume of sales inquiries every day with a huge sales team. To handle its sales function, the business builds a lead management app to record all inquiries and track the progress of each lead. In this case, the app should be primarily evaluated against how it helps in making the lead management process effective and increasing the efficiency of the sales team. All other factors like how fast the app runs or how well the app scales with volume should be seen as building blocks for achieving the primary goal.
Let’s talk about a business that recently launched its e-commerce website. The primary metric to measure for understanding the business value should be sales generated out of the website. The website’s user experience, speed, and security should be the aspects considered as mediums to achieve the primary goal.
How to Build a Perfect App?
It’s necessary to understand that there is no formula that you use to get the app that solves your problem best on the first attempt. Irrespective of how experienced or skilled professionals build the app, they can’t deliver just the right app on the first attempt. You have to iterate a few times to reach a level where it delivers all the expected metrics. The experience and skills of app developers are only going to help you reach the perfect app in much fewer iterations. That being said, below are a few points that came out of our expertise at Tarakhilpa that might help you reach your goals faster.
Define and focus on the expected business outcomes
Step 1: You can begin by defining and documenting the long-term vision of your business and how the app is going to help you reach there. For example, in the case of the sales LMS app mentioned above, the long-term vision could be growing the business turnover to a certain level and the LMS app would help as follows-
- It would help the sales team to operate with improved efficiency
- It would help app owners to track the performance of the sales team and forecast business growth
Step 2: The next step is to identify what should be the current focus to achieve this long-term vision and note it down in the same document
- Defining the pain points you are looking to solve from the app
- In the LMS app for the sales team, the pain point addressed is an inefficient process due to the unorganized state of the lead data. Like everyday sale agents might struggle to find out their today’s meetings or tasks to give one example of inefficiency due to a lack of organized data.
- List down the expected outcomes from the app, for example, in the LMS app for the sales team following could be outcomes
- Well-organized lead data and efficient sales processes.
- Efficient management analytics dashboard to track the performance of the sales team.
- Define KPIs to track from the app, few examples of what KPIs you should track are- revenue, average check size, customer acquisition costs, retention rate, downloads, and user satisfaction In the LMS app, an increase in sales (revenue) should be one of the KPIs.
Step 3: Tracking the app’s goals and KPIs
- Once this document is ready, these points should become your primary focus area. Every decision you make for the app should be cross-verified on the basis of goal alignment and if help you reach these goals.
- These goals should be constantly tracked on a regular basis while building the app as well as while the app is launched and in action.
Get Inspired: Learn from success stories & case studies
As an app owner, once you identify the pain points to solve using the app, you would need to conduct primary research on the existing apps built to solve the same pain points. You can compare apps created by your competitors or research any readymade apps in your domain. Like in the case of the sales LMS app, you can refer to apps built by similar businesses or any available ready-made LMS apps developed for your industry. You could refer to how the solution has been designed in these apps and how effective they are in solving the pain points and giving desired outcomes.
Create a user-centric design
Every KPI you are looking to achieve from the app your will find is connected with users who would be using the app. So it’s important app should be designed by keeping users at the center. Step 1: The first step is to identify who would be the users of the app.
- Like the LMS app, the users would be the sales executives of your organization and their managers who would be tracking their performance
Step 2: Then we should identify the purpose of usage and the needs of these users.
- With the LMS app, sales executives would use the app for finding the list of meetings and tasks they have today and the progress made on the lead they are meeting today.
Step 3: Finally, start designing screens, data or process flows to let each user fulfill their purposes. This practice is popularly known as writing user stories.
Build in Iterative increments
As you aim to build an app that delivers high value, you must acknowledge that there is no single formula to build a high-value app. The only way to reach there (high value) is to try out the solution you designed, launch the app and observe how the app is performing on KPIs, learn from it, and then iterate to fine-tune. With that said, it’s important we keep each iteration as small as possible while meaningful enough to provide valid business outcomes (value). By using short development cycles, you add the ability to become “agile” and change those requirements in future iterations based on ongoing customer input.
Step 1: Divide the app development into multiple releases All user stories (features) identified above should be divided into multiple releases as compared to building all features in one single release. Each release should be kept as short as possible and should be focused on addressing the most important goals for the app at that time.
- For example, in the case of the LMS app, the first release could focus on features bare minimum needed to start using the app while all other features could be kept for future releases. Maybe in this release sales agent would be able to record a lead and track his meetings and task list in the app.
- The second release could plan to have analytics for sales managers for tracking sales performance.
Also, each release would incorporate feedback points users provided in previous releases.
Step 2: Build each release iteratively
Now that you have planned releases and features in them, it is time to start building release after release. If you are a non-technical person or if you don’t have enough time to get into the nitty gritty of app building, it’s tempting to engage an app agency to deliver the whole release in one go waterfall model. And that works well for most cases.
However, if you could get involved in the nitty gritty you could run each release in iterations and get much better value from each sprint. Each iteration within a release is popularly known as a sprint. Best results could be achieved by deciding to keep these sprints of equal length and the development team is expected to deliver the portion of the app that individually delivers some business value at the end of each sprint. Typical sprint lengths that work best are 2 to 3 weeks. However, based on the type and complexity of the app being built you could agree on the length of the sprint with the development team. Idea is to keep the length long enough for the development team to deliver some business value at the end of it. App owners would be able to provide feedback on how the app is taking shape at end of every sprint this way and hence the final build of the release comes out more valuable as compared to the non-iterative all-in-one-go release.
In the case of the first release of the LMS app-
- The first sprint can deliver lead-recording functionality.
- The second sprint can deliver functionality to add lead progress details, setup followup meetings with leads, and add tasks for himself that is needed to be done for converting this lead,
- The third sprint can deliver functionality where the sales executive can track his today’s meetings and task
- The fourth sprint could be dedicated to completing other pending tasks and issue fixes
- The fifth sprint could be dedicated to releasing the app for sales executives.
Each sprint would also incorporate feedback received from you in previous sprints.