tl;dr (in summary): If your company isn’t in the software development business, it’s MUCH more cost effective long-term to work with a partner whose core competency is creating, maintaining, and supporting great technology.

Have you ever googled “Ikea assembly fails?” The results include a flurry of pictures of inexperienced consumers trying to build furniture with limited instructions. The result: chairs with upside-down legs and cabinets that collapse at a moment’s notice. As this became a widespread issue, Ikea introduced its assembly service because, as they say, “Not everyone can do-it-themselves.”

Not everyone can do-it themselves

If you’re thinking about building your own app – you may want to follow suit. Not everyone can do-it-themselves.

With hundreds of new apps being published to the Apple and Android app stores daily, one of the hottest trends across enterprises is building custom internal apps. While “building your own app” sounds like a simple project . . . creating a mobile app, especially one for broad employee use, requires much more work and expense than meets the eye.

Having spent the last five years building and maintaining a SaaS platform including mobile and desktop web apps, we have a full understanding of the costs, time, and commitment involved in building a custom mobile app. If you’re thinking about building your own app, make sure you consider time, labor, expertise, talent, support, and ongoing management.

Have you considered all of the up-front costs and expertise you will need to build an app?

  • Front end designers
  • Back end developers
  • Product architects and management
  • Server operating systems and hosting
  • Development languages expertise
  • Data analytics and reporting engine
  • Administrative functionality

If you plan to support multiple operating systems, you will need to build separate apps for each platform. Additionally, you will likely need desktop browser expertise for building separate web apps.

Even if you have all of the talent and resources in-house, building a custom app is a long process that will take 8-12 months at minimum – and that time commitment is just the first app version. SaaS platforms like Red e App can be ready to use in a week.

Have you considered the long-term resources required for maintaining a custom mobile app?

  • Routine maintenance and bug fixes
  • Updates for new operating systems
  • Product ownership and enhancements
  • Server hardware and software costs over time
  • Product uptime and availability, and costs to support a 24x7x365 service

Be sure you have budgeted time and resources for ongoing app maintenance. Technology is constantly changing, and your app must be consistently updated to remain effective. An app that is not maintained will quickly become useless. With a SaaS platform like Red e App, maintenance, updates, and enhancements are included in your monthly fees.

Do you have a plan for implementation and success?

  • How will your app be rolled out across the organization?
  • Who will manage implementation?
  • How will you measure success and set benchmarks?
  • How will you identify when people are not using the application and what behaviors help drive consistent usage?
  • What kind of training and marketing materials will you provide?

Building a mobile app does not guarantee a successful launch with your user base. A successful technology implementation has a carefully crafted launch plan with dedicated success resources. Red e App provides an implementation manager to help with kickoff and launch, as well as training materials, success benchmarks, and extensive analytics.

Have you considered how you will provide ongoing user support?

  • End-user support via phone, email, chat and in-app
  • Administrator support
  • Best practices and continued success

You must provide resources for your employees who will be using and administrating the app. Without support, employees who struggle using the app will become frustrated and disinterested. Many SaaS platforms like Red e App provide full-service end user support as well as administrator support and coaching for long-term success.

Lastly, consider these questions:

  • Did your company build its own custom app for company email?
  • Did your company build its own app for file storage?
  • Did your company build its own financial and billing software?
  • Did your company build its own payroll software?

Most likely, the answer to all of these is no. Your company has probably elected to utilize enterprise software that was purpose-built for these functions. While it may seem like an efficient and financially beneficial strategy to build you own app, this is rarely the best choice. It’s MUCH more cost effective long-term to work with a partner whose core competency is creating, maintaining, and supporting great technology.