The Key to ‘appiness: Insider Advice on Apps for Business

Three Business Customer
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On: 15 Jun 2017
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Puca Apps for Business

We consulted Stefan Mitchell, Project Manager of Púca – Three customer and award-winning mobile app developers – to find out what apps everyone in business should have on their phone.

Most of us have a favourite app that helps us be more efficient and productive; I’ve certainly got mine – Slack. However, there are lesser-known, brilliant apps out there that you may not have heard of yet but could transform the way you work.

Here I will share some insights into how you can choose which apps do deserve space on your phone and can make a positive difference in your work life. Hopefully I can give you a few insider’s pointers, after all it’s only teenagers with their first phones who want apps for apps’ sake. For the rest of us, apps are essential business tools. If we can’t do without them, we know we’ve picked the right ones.

Can’t Work Without…

The app I would find it most difficult to work without, and would recommend without hesitation to anyone in a small-medium enterprise, is Trello. With its customisable user-interface (UI), this app is ideal for businesses where cross-functional working is a way of life. You may have to wear several different hats in one day at the office, but Trello means you don’t have to use several different apps.

Based around an unlimited series of boards, Trello lets you set up one board for – say – marketing, which you can fill with brand assets, copy, blog ideas and so on; another for tracking general tasks, another for some other purpose and so on. It makes it easy for your whole team to have a clear picture of what’s going on across the business, and allows them to collaborate effectively too. A single Trello board can be used to track tasks and progress across an entire project lifecycle: Initiation, Planning, Execution and Close. Even better news is that Trello’s free account offers unlimited boards, checklists, members, attachments and more. I even use Trello for my personal ‘to-do’ list. You can take the Project Manager out of the office, but…!

Is There an App for That?

In the consumer world, there are apps for most things people want to do. While consumer needs can be generalised and broadly solved in a single app, businesses are different in many important respects. Businesses have different cultures, different processes, and are at widely different stages in their development. This is why when a business person can’t find the app they want, it’s usually because their need is too specific for it to be out in the wild. However that doesn’t mean it can’t be created.

The cost of developing a custom-built app from scratch, to meet even the most highly individual and finely nuanced business needs, is now far more affordable. One thing helping to bring the cost down is the control you have over which devices it will be used on. Rather than developing an app to work across Android, iOS and Windows, you can simply match the platform to the devices within your business, with no wasted development costs.

The key to taking the plunge and deciding to invest in a custom app is – like with most investments – to realise the cost-benefit of having it compared to not having it. If you’ve been searching for an app then you clearly have an issue for it to address. An issue is almost certainly reducing efficiency and productivity, and having a negative impact on your bottom line. Balance the long-term cost of continued inefficiency against the short-term cost of developing an app, and you’ll see the cost-benefit argument come down heavily in favour of briefing a reputable developer sooner rather than later.

Take Note, Not Notes.

An app that will certainly make your working life easier and more efficient is Wunderlist.

How many meetings are you in where you see people furiously typing or writing notes? “Great” – you think — “things are going to get done”… But then they don’t. That’s because those notes don’t include actions, whereas notes taken on Wunderlist can include due dates and reminders, and can be assigned to people as to-do items. In addition, when people leave the meeting and go back to their desks, they can sync Wunderlist with their desktops so tasks don’t ever get forgotten or overlooked.

Apps to Avoid.

With so many apps to choose from, inevitably there are a few turkeys. The problem is, you can’t usually spot them until you’ve already downloaded and started using them. While we love hybrid apps here at Púca, it’s all about getting the balance right between native and web. In my opinion, the core functionality of an app should be native, with some complementary HTML5 screens (news etc.). The result is an app that delivers the best possible user experience, while making it easier for the business to maintain.

On the other end of the spectrum however are web-heavy hybrid apps – those where web content is simply wrapped in a native shell. While there are very good exceptions to the rule, Basecamp for example, I tend to avoid these as I’d rather simply visit their mobile-optimised website. If an app isn’t providing a better, more useful experience than the website in your mobile internet browser, delete it!

There you have it – my top tips for making apps work harder for your business, so you don’t have to. Or in other words: the key to business efficiency and ‘appiness.

Find more ideas and insights for improving business efficiency and productivity on our Business Learning Centre.