How to build a web app that accomplishes your business goals

How to build a web app that accomplishes your business goals

Building a web application can solve workflow issues that waste valuable employee hours.

When ready-made software or desktop applications don’t offer the functionality you need, custom web applications provide a more flexible and versatile solution.

But a web app project can quickly deplete your budget and resources if you aren’t heavily involved in the development process. Only 16.2% of software development projects are completed on time and on budget — often because the technical requirements drive the project, instead of the business goals.

Don’t wait until you’ve invested hundreds of hours in building a web application to realize it doesn’t meet your original business objectives. Here’s how to build a web app that accomplishes your business goals.

Looking for a web application development firm invested in your business goals? Contact MXOtech today.

Define and validate the business problem you want to solve

A business web application can help streamline operations and reduce costs associated with inefficient processes.

Maybe you want to improve the customer experience with convenient online services. Or perhaps you still rely on paper processes, and your employees have to spend hours manually entering data and searching for misplaced work orders.

Make sure you fully investigate and document the business pain point you’re trying to address.

As you talk to your staff while documenting your workflow, listen to how they describe the different steps involved. Someone may describe a step as “slow” or say it “takes forever." These phrases provide clues to your pain points.

To validate your project goals, consider a low-cost business process improvement assessment. A development firm will address glaring inefficiencies in your operational processes that a business application could alleviate. They will help you build a roadmap that defines your web application’s purpose, goals and direction.

Start small

A lot of software development projects fail because teams bite off more than they can chew at one time. This can be a danger even after you gather the requirements. Increasing excitement for the project can lead to scope creep.

Keep your initial implementation small and easy to manage. Stay focused during the development process and avoid making changes or additions to the project unless they are necessary for completion of the original goal.

Make a plan to vet and address any additional features after you've implemented the initial release.

Use the agile methodology to map out your web application

In traditional app development, the development team gathers the technical requirements and builds what they think the decision-maker wants. Stakeholders don’t get to provide feedback until they see the finished product. Any changes could result in a complete overhaul of the app and send you way over budget and past deadline.

Agile development is a more flexible, realistic approach to building applications. Using the agile methodology, coders work in short development cycles (known as sprints) and deliver a key functionality for testing every 10-14 days. Frequent user feedback and collaboration help developers adapt to changing requirements, keep business objectives in focus and avoid project waste.

Once you’ve validated your business problem and decided on a web application as your solution, follow these steps to plan and prioritize development tasks:

  • Break down all application functionalities into project stories that can be completed in 2-week sprints (for example, “allow users to log in”).
  • Tackle small pieces of functionality and any dependencies first.
  • Backlog all other stories.
  • Work with stakeholders to prioritize stories by order importance to the business.
  • Do thorough user testing after each sprint.
  • Implement feedback and resubmit the functionality for user testing.
  • Once approved, move onto the next story.

Project management tools like Jira can help you plan and track each phase of application development.

Tip: When writing project stories, use the “As a… I want to… so that…” template to help you maintain perspective. For example, "As a user, I want to send feedback so that I can tell the company when I'm having issues."

“As a…” defines the role or perspective of the person using the particular feature. Examples include “As a user” or “As an administrator.”

“I want to…” describes the goal the user is trying to accomplish. “I want to send feedback” or “I want to approve new users” are examples.

Finally, “so that…” gives the feature purpose and meaning.  It describes the reason the functionality exists. Examples include, “so that I can tell the company when I’m having issues” or “so that I can assign access to users when they are created.”

If you aren’t looking to build your application in-house, consider partnering with an agile application development firm to ensure your web app fulfills your business needs the first time around.

Read: 6 ways to vet agile application development firms and avoid project waste.

Test your web application regularly during development

When building a web app, frequent user testing is the most critical step to accomplishing your business goals.

The agile development model breaks down complex application projects into small pieces of user functionality and prioritizes testing.

You build each app functionality in short sprints that last one to two weeks. After each sprint, key stakeholders thoroughly test each component and provide feedback to improve the product.

Plan to invest at least four hours a month to application testing. Get as many team members as possible involved to ensure you’ve tested the most common user scenarios.

Whether you’re developing in-house or partnering with a development firm, consistent collaboration between users and developers is critical. Dedicating hours to testing upfront will save you time and money in the long run. You won’t have to completely overhaul the application after six months of work. Instead, you can address concerns in real-time and make small changes when you need to.

When the application is ready for launch, there won’t be any surprises. You’ll have peace of mind knowing you’re getting exactly what you envisioned for your business application.

Plan for the future

With any web application, there will always be a need for improvements and upgrades. Having an agile partner in the continuous development and maintenance of your web app is critical for longevity. You’ll be able to scale the app as your business grows and stay current with the latest technology and design updates.

At MXOtech, we understand how to build a web app that accomplishes your business goals. We’ve helped companies across all industries reduce costs, streamline processes and achieve better efficiency with custom business applications.

Interested in partnering with an agile development company for your next project? Contact MXOtech today.

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