Posted by:Shyam Deval July 22nd, 2015

When we at BTC work with clients for whom we design and develop mobile applications, it is our constant endeavor to help them understand the need to plan for the entire lifecycle of the mobile application,going beyond the initial development and deployment. It’s not always an easy concept to digest, especially if the project is a stand-alone business group initiative and not part of strategic mobility initiatives.

The constant rapid changes happening in the mobile landscape, the increasing emphasis on mobile as an engagement vehicle for customers, employees and partners alike and the resultant criticality of ensuring that the mobile application experience is consistent throughout the lifecycle of that application make thinking strategically about it an absolute necessity.

Today I want to share an approach to Mobile Application Lifecycle Management (MALM) outlined by VDC research that I came across recently.This approach breaks down the entire lifecycle into a number of clearly identifiable and manageable processes. I will provide context to each of the stages based on our experience here at BTC developing and managing a recent enterprise app called Sales360.

VDC has identified following seven key processes in MALM:

  • Identification: In this stage work is done to identify potential users of the app (such as customers and employees),processes that will be mobilized,systems that need to interface with the app and other technology assets that need to be leveraged and lastly but importantly business requirements for the app. For the Sales360 app, we identified ‘Sales Managers and sales teams’ as the users, being able to quickly adjust sales plan by comparing actual and forecast numbers as well as accessing pursuits in progress – all while being mobile, as the key business requirement, and SAP ERP and Salesforce as the systems to interface from the mobile app.

  • Specify: In this state detailed app requirements are defined as well as a ‘buy vs. build’ decision is made using the detailed feature analysis. We decided to build the Sales360 app in order to support the requirement to pull together information from two disparate data sources and visually represent it to provide an effective ‘mobile’ user experience.

  • Develop or Acquire: Technical design decisions for the target development environment; integration and synchronization with the back-end data, as well as quality control and testing are made in this phase. Sales360 app was built using SAP Mobile platform (SMP) and we used the SMP provided adaptors to connect to the two backend system.

  • Secure: Requirements around authorization and authentication are defined in this stage as well as technical decisions on how to implement the needed security. Sales360 used Salesforce single sign on (SSO) for authenticating access to the app and a role based security for data access.

  • Install: Once the app is built, decisions need to be made about the mode of distribution for app as well as what analytics to track for app usage. Sales360 will be distributed via the MAM toolkit provided by SMP and we will be tracking app usage at a fairly granular level so we can continuously improve the app for our users based on analysis of their usage of the app.

  • Manage: In this phase, app usage is tracked and monitored as well as any compliance policies relative to app usage are enforced.

  • End-of-life: It is extremely important to not have apps floating around in public domain that are no longer in use. Not only it is a security risk but it can also provide a bad user experience if users think they are accessing a current supported app. This phase is used to identify applications that are no longer in use and maintaining a log of whitelist and blacklist apps. Making and executing ‘end of life’ decisions for the apps in a timely manner is very critical.

VDC so correctly points out in its research how successful application development can provide companies with a competitive advantage, which can translate into increased efficiency and cost savings. As mobile applications become more and more integral to critical business operations, it is imperative for companies to have a well thought out and executed Mobile Application Lifecycle Management process that is also clearly communicated to all the stakeholders.

Do you use a MALM process and what has been your experience with such a process? I would love to hear from you about your experience.

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