Applying a Startup Mindset to Enterprise Mobile App Development

Applying a Startup Mindset to Enterprise Mobile App Development
How you can apply a startup mindset to enterprise mobile app development to craft digital ventures that compete with smaller, agile, and innovative competitors.

Successful enterprise mobile app development becomes easier when possessing a startup mindset. This approach requires a project team with state of the art technical skills combined with business acumen. This team needs to be nimble and flexible, able to quickly react to any changes based on market analysis, user testing, and more. Of course, familiarity with modern iterative software development methodologies, like Agile, definitely helps.

Other aspects of a startup mindset help optimize the effort of crafting digital ventures, from enterprise mobile apps to interactive websites. One critical factor involves working at a high rate of velocity, including not being afraid of trying out new ideas and potentially breaking things. The project team understands that this approach ultimately results in a more stable and effective app once deployed. In fact, this agile mindset helped supercharge the growth of many top technology companies, including Facebook and Spotify. 

In the end, the modern business world is defined by rapid change and fierce competition. Success in this environment, especially when engaging in enterprise mobile app development, benefits from an entrepreneurial spirit – even at larger businesses. So let’s look at how you can apply a startup mindset to enterprise mobile app development to craft digital ventures that compete with smaller, agile, and innovative competitors. 

Reengineering The Agile Manifesto 

In the more than two decades since being published, the Agile Manifesto transformed the software development process. The team involved in its creation shared a frustration with the disorganized nature of corporate application engineering. Their work ushered in a new era, eventually leading to Agile variants like Scrum, and new organizational structures, such as DevOps. A new focus on agility, velocity, and flexibility optimized software development teams across the business world.

However, the original manifesto barely focused on one critical concept: delivering true business value. A more efficient software development process means little if the app or website solves no critical business problem. In the end, the Agile Manifesto definitely optimized software development and its effects are still felt throughout the technology world. But it’s time to reengineer the manifesto, making product value the ultimate goal for any enterprise mobile app development initiative.  

Digital Ventures Must Focus on Delivering Product Value 

Any enterprise mobile app must deliver product value to be considered a success. While modern software development methodologies optimize the development process, this improved efficiency goes for naught without solving a business problem or meeting the needs of the user community. Transforming Agile or similar approaches into product-based methodologies helps achieve the goal of product value. 

Of course, actually defining “value” must be an important goal at the beginning of a project, along with performing a detailed market analysis. This helps derive the metrics and measurables to track progress throughout the lifecycle. Once these are defined, give the development team the autonomy to brainstorm ideas and solve problems that arise during any software project. 

Modern Software Methodologies Help Attract Exceptional Engineering Talent

Enterprises starting a new venture or entering a new space need an influx of talented software engineering professionals to become successful. Having a senior-level engineer as a core member of your initial team helps you choose a modern software methodology to be used at your organization. Of course, deciding on an iterative approach gives your team the flexibility to react to changes in specs due to user testing or even new ideas. 

A modern development methodology combined with sharply-defined best practices and procedures helps attract the talented software engineering candidates your venture needs. After all, great engineers don’t want to work for a company that’s disorganized. Remember that state of the art tools to support application development also matter, including project management software, time tracking bots, workplace collaboration suites, and more. 

Why Lean Startup with Build-Measure-Learn Isn’t Always The Right Fit 

Various iterative software development methodologies appeared this century, with most of them owing at least some debt to the Agile Manifesto. Lean Startup, made popular by American entrepreneur Eric Ries, provides one example that typically gets used when bootstrapping startup businesses. One of the hallmarks of this methodology is the Build-Measure-Learn cycle, which traditionally starts with the project team crafting a minimum viable product (MVP).

Users interact with the MVP, and the team measures the subsequent test results, applying those lessons learned to design and build changes to the app. However, after gaining significant experience from multiple successful enterprise mobile app development projects, we determined that the Build-Measure-Learn cycle is actually backwards. If your enterprise plans to apply a Lean Startup mindset to your next digital venture, learning should be the first priority. We devised our own variant of Lean Startup, using a Learn-Measure-Build cycle instead of the reverse. 

The Startup Mindset Requires a Learn-Measure-Build Approach 

Learning as quickly as possible during an enterprise mobile app project results in a greater chance for success. This is especially the case when the project team is unfamiliar with the target market or business domain. As a forward-thinking digital venture studio, we use Learn-Measure-Build cycles as part of every of every initiative. It ensures we understand everything about the underlying business problem, including the metrics used to measure the effectiveness of the enterprise mobile app, before any line of code gets written. 

Considering the cost of fixing any mistakes in a project greatly increases at the end compared to the beginning, learning any lessons as fast as possible becomes critical. Understanding the issues discovered during testing becomes easier with a sharply-defined set of measurable metrics. Our approach to Learn Startup puts those two critical pieces at the beginning of each project cycle before actually building or modifying a minimum viable product. This approach ensures the entire project team, including users, testers, and business stakeholders, stays on the same page throughout the initiative. 

Understanding The Concept of a Minimum Viable Product 

Probably the most important early deliverable in an enterprise mobile app development project using Lean Startup is the minimum viable product (MVP). Essentially a fully-usable prototype, our project team crafts an MVP after learning everything about the business problem, project goals, and metrics used to measure the project’s success. The software engineers focus on building an app with only the most critical functionality. A targeted user group then tests the app’s design, focusing on user interface elements and its core operation. 

Testing out a digital venture in this manner engages the entire development team as well as users and business stakeholders. If the testing and subsequent measuring phase reveals the underlying concept simply won’t work, this gets discovered as early as possible, preventing the waste of additional resources. Ultimately, this Agile-inspired approach fits perfectly with the startup mindset, since these emerging organizations typically lack the capital to spend haphazardly on poorly conceived ideas.

Other Valuable Benefits Gained From Building a Minimum Viable Product 

The minimum viable product (MVP) is a core concept of the Lean Startup methodology and its variants. Digital venture studios gain significant benefits from crafting an MVP for any enterprise mobile app development project. 

Focusing on an MVP as an early project deliverable ensures the project team receives valuable feedback from testers and the user community. After all, it costs much more to fix issues at the end of a project compared to its beginning. An MVP also helps the project team validate the underlying concept of the digital venture while also verifying the target market. In short, it needs to be a part of your organization’s next mobile app initiative. 

Choosing The Right Software Development Methodology For Your Digital Venture

Any enterprise mobile app development project requires the right methodology for the project. A modern, iterative approach provides the necessary interaction to ensure the project team builds an app that meets the original goals of the undertaking. It’s critical any problems with the app’s initial design, user interface, and the analysis of the target market get discovered as early as possible. After all, the costs in fixing any issues become much higher later in the project.

Of course, the Lean Startup methodology provides many benefits to enterprises crafting a mobile app or interactive website. Notably, a minimum viable product provides a deliverable capable of generating the critical feedback about the app as quickly as possible. This approach ensures any mistakes or misassumptions are found before it’s too late to fix them in a cost-effective manner. It applies the concepts of the startup mindset to the software development process. 

Does Design Thinking Make Sense as a Methodology For Enterprise Mobile Apps?

While design thinking sees wide use for non-technical projects, it can also be used for enterprise mobile app development initiatives. Design thinking shares a few similarities with Lean Startup and other iterative software engineering methodologies. It focuses on strong customer research as part of the initial app design. However, design thinking tends to be less rigorous than Lean Startup and sometimes forgoes the building of a minimum viable product. This means some design mistakes might get missed until later in the project, requiring extra resources to be spent (or wasted) to fix any issues.

Some software projects using design thinking even build multiple prototypes to vet various aspects of the app’s design. Needless to say, this approach requires extra time and effort with a copious amount of repetition. Additionally, a strong testing effort is needed to fully vet the differences between each prototype. Still, enterprises should keep design thinking concepts in their toolbox for future project opportunities.    

Enterprise Mobile App Development Requires a Unique Architectural Approach 

Companies increasingly leverage mobile technology to keep their employees tethered to corporate apps and data. This approach dovetails nicely with the increased use of cloud-based services to host an organization’s technical infrastructure. In fact, businesses using this strategy found it easier to transition to a remote working model in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic. 

Ultimately, enterprise mobile app development demands the project team make some unique architectural considerations. For example, cybersecurity must be a focus throughout the project. After all, cybercriminals find mobile apps using public networks connected to cloud-based technical infrastructures to be an attractive target. The project team also needs to work closely with the corporate development staff for best practices on using enterprise tech resources, like APIs and microservices. 

Enterprise Mobile App Design and QA Considerations 

The development team needs to take a discerning tact when designing an enterprise mobile app. Considering the smaller screen real estate of a smartphone, don’t try to fit an entire complex desktop application into a relatively tiny window. Expect an app like this to be essentially unusable. A tablet-only mobile app might suffice if employees need similar functionality as on a desktop PC.

Of course, any complex enterprise mobile app requires rigorous acceptance testing. Remember this project might include targeting both iOS and Android platforms, with the latter mobile OS including a much larger cornucopia of different device manufacturers. Additionally, keeping the QA team engaged throughout the project becomes essential, especially when following an iterative software development methodology. Leverage the business domain knowledge of enterprise super users to make the testing process more effective. 

Determining The Scope of an Enterprise Mobile App Project is Critical

One of the most critical deliverables early in any enterprise mobile app development initiative is the project scope. The document defines the project’s requirements, timeline, and most other related deliverables. Any initial work performed analyzing the target user community for the app helps inform the scope for the development process. Importantly, failure to accurately scope a project puts its eventual success at risk.

Saving costs remains another significant benefit of scoping a project. After all, fixing issues due to mistaken requirements becomes significantly more expensive later in the timeline. The entire team must focus on this effort before any interface is designed or code gets written. 

Don’t Forget These Steps When Scoping an Enterprise Mobile App Project 

Scoping a new app starts with bringing all stakeholders together to craft a high-level conceptual document for the mobile app. This effort must include an analysis of the app’s user personas along with their individual experiences and journeys when using the app. Use this information to drive the app’s design document including initial boilerplates of the screen and other UI elements as well as backend considerations like database connection requirements. 

At this point, the approval of the design document leads to writing detailed specifications and building the project timeline, including the scheduling of sprints, depending on the chosen methodology. Maybe a minimum viable product is one of the early deliverables? An understanding of the QA process, including any test plans, is also critical. 

Find a Technology Project Manager With a Startup Mindset 

An experienced project manager or ScrumMaster plays a massive role in ensuring a successful enterprise mobile app development project. In fact, finding a PM with a startup mindset provides the project with the business acumen necessary for an expertly-run initiative. Ultimately, treating this manager as the CEO of the venture lets them provide the necessary leadership for the app throughout the project and after its launch. When the app launches, this person is in an ideal position to transition into the manager of the new venture.

Find someone with specific experience managing projects using modern software development methodologies, especially Agile or Lean Startup. Successfully completed projects need to include mobile apps for both iOS and Android. Of course, exceptional communication skills and an entrepreneurial spirit are also critical. 

The Benefits of an Experienced Project Manager With a Big Picture View

The project manager for any enterprise mobile app development project needs to fully understand modern software engineering, including the disparate personalities working in this role. As effectively the CEO of this digital venture, their people skills keep everyone on the same page. Their vision ensures the entire team stays engaged, productive, and copacetic. 

A startup mindset also provides benefits if the business stakeholders want to spin the new product into a separate division or business entity. Their ability to see the big picture facilitates what is effectively an executive-level role. They ultimately provide the full range of abilities to truly lead this initiative. 

Digital Venture Studios Gain Insights into Product Value 

Developing a digital product studio provides a nearly limitless potential to learn about industry pain points and which solutions do and do not deliver value. In addition to delivering projects for third-party organizations, this approach also serves as an incubator for new ventures. Ultimately, this strategy creates a feedback loop, eventually leading to those business “holy grails” of continuous improvement and unparalleled growth.

A critical aspect of the digital venture studio model is finding an industry sector or market niche matching the backgrounds and skill sets of your core team. This concept gives your team the opportunity to use the latest technology innovations, such as AI and machine learning. Analysts predict the market for these types of tech startups to thrive in 2022 and beyond.

The Right Time For Outsourcing Innovation  

Businesses incubating a compelling idea for a new enterprise mobile app struggle to source the software engineering talent necessary to make their idea a reality. A tight technology job market makes the staffing process difficult for these organizations. While the shift to remote working in the wake of COVID-19 widened candidate pools, actually sourcing the required talent remains difficult. This situation demands startup companies explore outsourcing innovation to a talented digital venture studio

Other businesses are making similar choices to transform great ideas into exceptional mobile apps. Recent analysis of the outsourcing market predicted its value to exceed $413 billion by the start of 2022. Anyone with a startup mindset hoping to craft an enterprise mobile app to dominate the market must keep the growth of outsourcing demand at the forefront of their analysis.

Outsourcing Technology Ideas Works For Startup Businesses 

A company had an innovative idea for optimizing the processes used in industrial laundry services. However, even though their nylon polymer beads concept won an award at the Consumer Electronics Show, the organization still needed help in commercializing a product around this concept. This scenario required outsourcing their technical and business development needs to an experienced digital venture studio.

Our team crafted an IoT laundry monitoring system for this company, including a bespoke mobile app. As a result, businesses using this system consumed 80% less water than before. This business is now poised to enter the consumer market, reaching potentially billions of new customers. Without outsourcing innovation, this growth simply isn’t possible. Enterprises looking for the same level of innovation should look towards outsourcing.

Enterprise Mobile App Development Need Not Reinvent The Wheel 

While innovation is important, enterprises adopting a startup mindset run the risk of failure by trying to reinvent the wheel when not necessary. Instead, benefitting from other startups’ digital ventures gives a compelling idea the best chance of finding its own market. 

Because they work with dozens of companies, digital venture studios have insights into how startups and enterprises have succeeded and failed in the industry. This saves you time by partnering with a digital venture studio with the skills and experience to transform your idea into an exceptional mobile app.

Leveraging The Wisdom Gained Through Enterprise Mobile App Development

Partnering with a digital venture studio with relevant experience and a startup mindset is the wise choice for any enterprise. Studios boasting significant mobile app development chops as well as a history of transforming great ideas into successful digital ventures gives a spark of an idea a great chance for success. These firms also understand the value provided by using modern iterative software development methodologies. 

Wisdom gleaned from earlier projects using Agile, Lean Startup, and other software development approaches ensures the project team avoids similar mistakes. Performing a detailed market analysis and building a minimum viable product vets the concept and its market, increasing the chances of success. Ultimately, it’s the right strategy for any new startup.

When searching for an experienced digital venture studio for your idea, connect with the team at NineTwoThree. We boast exceptional technical chops, strong business acumen, and a startup mindset. Spend some time with us to discuss your organization’s plans for building its business. We can help you achieve those goals! 

Tim Ludy
Tim Ludy
Articles From Tim
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