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When to Build and When to Buy Your Mobile App

Mobile applications are a major tent pole for the modern mobile enterprise. It’s often believed that businesses are presented with two choices after deciding to go mobile; build it yourself, or buy a pre-made application that best fits your needs. In actuality the choice is much more complex, consisting of various other options. Publicly available applications typically have a lower barrier to adoption, but also present their own difficulties in terms of management, licensing, and security. While these applications are designed for mass audiences, it’s unlikely that they’ll cover all of a business’ needs. Choosing whether to build or buy your company’s next mobile application should take time and be carefully considered.

If your business has fairly typical business processes, it may be wise to purchase a pre-assembled application. Off the shelf applications found in app stores like Apple’s and Google Play’s frequently offer reliable products but are often stuck with limited functionality. A few of these applications may provide tailored user interfaces and experiences to fit individual needs and tasks but for the most part present a “one size fits all” approach, not entirely aware to the idiosyncrasies of each organization. For example, a company may be fine using pre-made application to complete one task, but if they wish to complete that task and then share the data between applications, they’re stuck with the limits of whatever functionality that application provides. Vertical SaaS Solutions can provide more features and customization options based on individual needs but are also limited in that they still aren’t tailor made to fit every business scenario.

Mobile front-end applications to back-office systems are deeply integrated with specific modules or functions inside enterprise level business systems. These systems are much more functional than the previously mentioned applications and cover almost every department and business need an organization require. These applications are best for specific users aren’t always suitable for remote work. However, these systems are often too specific to be able to cover any additional functions.

In conclusion, if you choose to purchase a pre-built application rather than developing your own, you should be aware of the limitations of such applications. If your business processes are complex and fairly unique, you should opt to develop your own application to ensure that all of your needs are covered.

Doug Atkinson

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