Do You Really Need an App?

Apps changed the way we use our smartphone and commuters. Android users have the largest choice with a recorded 3.8 million apps in the Google Play Store while Apple's App Store is the second largest with 2 million available apps at the last count.

Apps are perfect for one doing a few tasks or operations well. They’re a focused tool that can be built to make something work faster and often far better than a desktop version due to the lean and stripped-out nature of their functionality.

Apps can solve many problems in business and it’s easy to see why they’ve become so popular. With faster work time, quick downloads, and smaller space taken on your device, apps are still very popular and show little sign of decline.

We’re often asked to build apps to work alongside bespoke software. An app can really add to the software when created well and for the right reasons. But we do sometimes see apps that serve little purpose other than to help a company say that they “have an app”.

The question you should always ask is this:

“Do we really need an app for that?”

They are brilliant, don’t get us wrong, but only when they’re the best option for you. Often, an app is just a small version of some desktop software and could simply have been left as a mobile optimised version for smartphones.

The app has to offer something that normal software can’t if you’re going to create it.

So here are some advantages and disadvantages of bespoke software apps for you to consider


Advantages of creating a bespoke app in your business


Competitive Advantage

Building your own app can really give you the edge. Think about it. You’re a car company trying to sell a mid-range saloon. You have a lot of competition and the money behind the marketing of your competitors is running into multiple millions.

You’re in a highly competitive market. How do you help your potential customers decide about the car they want? An app that helps them build the car, choose the paint, wheels, and interior might be an idea. Or maybe every one of your competitors has that option. So you go the extra mile and create a virtual tour of the car to help them ‘feel’ the experience of owning the vehicle? Add the competitive edge. That’s when an app really adds value to your business.

More efficiency (therefore potentially more profitable)

The main reason apps were invented is to get tasks completed in a more efficient way. It’s stripped down and has far fewer functions than, for example, a website. But the functions it does have are completed with ease. It’s more focused. So, if you have a task in your business or a series of tasks that you need to complete a lot of the time then an app might well be the way to go.

Added to that, if you’re performing this task enough times over then the time saved and money generated will make you more profitable too.

Additional revenue stream

Apps can also bring in fresh revenue to your business. If you have products or services with a natural up-sell to them or you can build in your customer journey into the app then you’ll be well on the way to gaining sales and cash for your business 24/7.

By removing the need to have a sales person calling your customers for some areas or simply enabling upgrades and purchases on your app you could open up the doors to more profits without any additional effort.

IP Ownership and ability to quickly change and adapt

When we build apps we hand over the IP of the app to you, the client. That then becomes a strong asset in your business and also something you can re-sell or white label. If you’ve solved a problem in your industry with your app you might want to put the app out to tender to others in your industry and charge them to use your app.

Another great reason to create an app for your business is the ability to adapt and change quickly.  Your app is more nimble and adaptable than some of the larger software. Want to offer a flash sale with push notifications? The app is a great way to do this.

Completely fitting to your own processes

And the biggest question you should ask yourself is, “does the app fit in with the systems that we already have in the business?” Systems fail when they don’t integrate or there’s too much to learn. How many times have you tried to add in some processes to your team or staff only to see the initial enthusiasm waiver as the new system becomes a chore?

Your app needs to fit in, not stand out. And like everything you add, it should make life more simple, not more complicated!

Things to consider before creating a bespoke app for your business

If your app simply doesn’t tick the boxes above then ask yourself again whether you need an app to solve the problem that you have, or if you even have a problem at all. Don’t get an app for the sake of getting an app.

Is an off-the-shelf solution available already?

With millions of apps to choose from already, maybe the solution is already out there? There are apps for almost everything and unless you have a very specific problem in your custom-built process then you may well find that someone has already created the fix.

Take your accounting for example. Maybe moving to something like Xero would give you better reporting, bank feeds automatically updating and seamless access for your accountant? Maybe the app that Xero already have for smartphones gives you the info you need on the go without creating something new?

We created our own CRM because we needed it to be more visual than the others on the market. Maybe that could help your team stay in touch more? Have you heard of Basecamp or Trello for managing tasks? Even Facebook private groups can be used internally. Slack, Facebook Workplace, or Yammer are useful to keep your team talking.

Don’t reinvent the wheel unless your business specifically needs to reinvent it.

ROI analysis – don’t create an app unless it delivers a measurable return

You need to see a return in productivity, team strength, profits, time, efficiency, or any reasons you deem appropriate . Don’t build an app for the sake of building an app – build an app to create more business and profits through lean processes and more efficient working.

If there’s an app out there that comes 80-90% close to what you need, try that first or maybe just look to improve your internal processes instead.

An app should add to your profits or improve customer service or retention. You don’t want to increase your workload or headaches!

Do you really need an app for that?

Creating bespoke software has its advantages but it certainly has challenges too. Weigh up the options, discuss it with your team, or give us a call to talk it through. We’ll always be honest rather than try to offer something that won’t add value to your business.

Apps are no doubt a gamechanger if the game hasn’t already been changed or needs changing in the first place.

It’s always best to ask the right questions before entering into a new project, and we’re happy to help.

Examples of our work

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SWIO: Manufacturing Management Software

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We have helped many companies increase efficiency and profitability with business changing changing software solutions.