Enterprise Application Development for Industry LeadersBy Alissa Rogers
What is enterprise application development?
Enterprise app development is the process of creating applications for large businesses that are customized to their complex business requirements. These applications can be deployed on the cloud across a variety of platforms and networks.
The purpose of an enterprise application is to alleviate common pain points and allow users to complete a task with efficiency and ease. It automates certain functionalities and workflows to empower the user to achieve their desired action in less time. Whether it’s a business application focused on helping companies pay their bills or an educational application helping children learn, the development is crucial to the success and overall adoption of the app — and the impact that it can make in the world.
When developing applications for enterprises, speed and scalability are critical to the process. Due to the nature and complexity of the workflows, building components that are templated and easily scaled at the beginning will ensure a more successful product in the end. The faster a company can iterate and continually update the mobile app, the more likely it is the app will continue to meet (or surpass) user expectations.
Enterprise Apps Designed for the Modern Web
The Advent of Mobile
See the Obie case study — YML designed, built and launched Obie — a first of its kind reproductive coach app that helps women understand and manage their fertility.
Smartphones and mobile devices have changed the landscape of consumer technology. Mobile usage has eclipsed that of desktop, and it will only continue to grow in the future. As the mobile market grows, so does the demand for mobile applications offering education, enterprise platforms and tools from a handheld device. In a study of the mobile landscape of 2020, new mobile app downloads increased 7% YoY for a total of 218B downloads.
As of March 2021, business apps were the second-most popular category in the Apple App Store with a share of 10.11% of all apps (the first being games). The following two most popular categories were education and lifestyle, respectively.
Companies who build their products with a mobile-first mindset are positioned to continually optimize their experience to better align with customer expectations. YML’s app development expertise focuses on developing state-of-the-art mobile applications at speed and scale. Our method of rapid prototyping allows for better innovation and testing, ultimately yielding a better product.
Modern enterprise software development aims to reduce application development timelines and is simultaneously able to produce all the aspects of web applications that are necessary for the modern enterprise. Streamlining development workflows effectively automates the process to enable a company to build better experiences, faster. Faster builds allow for more releases and testing, which in turn increases customer satisfaction in the end.
Features of Modern Enterprise Applications
When planning to develop a modern enterprise application, the following features are critical components to consider.
An effective mobile app manages and automates repetitive tasks. By saving the end user steps, they are able to complete workflows with greater efficiency and success.
Cutting-edge AI or machine learning technology
Another powerful way to continually automate processes is by leveraging artificial intelligence and machine learning. This not only helps the app improve itself, it also offers greater insight into its performance.
See the Research Kit case study — YML helped the world’s largest company create ResearchKit, and worked with healthcare institutions to build the first five apps on the platform.
Enterprise applications should have an effective data management strategy, as well as predictive analytics and intelligent automation. The ability to leverage data also leads to improved employee decision-making.
Internet of Things (IoT) describes the network of physical objects that connect and exchange data with other devices. Applications that use IoT devices to monitor operations in a secure, well-built infrastructure can gather more insights and further streamline operations.
As technology continues to evolve, so must functionality and compatibility of applications. Developing an app that can interface with emerging technologies (or at least be easily updated to) decreases development time for future iterations.
Mobile app security
To protect the application from threats on the browser and server, it’s important that a mobile app be built with security in mind — to both prevent and defend any future attacks.
Accessible education documentation
From both the internal and customer perspective, an enterprise application should have programs to help educate on the code, processes and any steps necessary for troubleshooting. A development company should provide thorough documentation of what was built and how it is expected to function.
Enterprise App Development for Fortune 500 & Industry Leaders
What’s the key to an enterprise’s app development success? Rapid adaptation. It’s one thing to build an app to launch, but building one that can scale for years to come puts a company in a better position in the face of change. Especially if there’s a change in business needs, being able to adapt without a heavy resource and financial lift enables a faster pivot.
YML was born in the heart of Silicon Valley and infuses that ethos into everything it builds. Silicon Valley is more than just a zip code — it's a mindset. One rooted in speed, experimentation and innovation. It's a relentless belief that you are better off following the change, not the plan.
That's why there's massive value in developing customizable solutions that will quickly adapt to any changes an enterprise may face. As leaders in digital transformation and innovation, we help brands of all sizes — from Fortune 500 to emerging startups — create digital-first experiences that can engage customers in a scalable way.
Enterprises need sufficient support from their development company. From pitch to product launch, YML is rapidly prototyping, testing and optimizing to lend support and exceed business goals. It isn’t just about engineering, though — we offer strategy, engineering, design, and content services to ensure world-class experiences.
How YML Provides Industry-Leading Enterprise App Development
Born in Silicon Valley in 2009, YML was founded to embody the best of the startup style: agility, experimentation and the ability to build at speed and scale. We create value for our clients by creating value for their customers. Our diverse team of more than 400 people hailing from 32 countries with studios in six locations has built experiences for a variety of industries. We prioritize hiring the right people who can bring expertise and perspective to our clients’ work — currently, our team is made up of 60% engineers and 44% women.
Supporting Fortune 500 Enterprises
We helped the world’s largest company create ResearchKit, Apple’s open-source framework for developing research applications. This work helps medical institutions generate data at a lower cost to lead to discoveries faster. In addition to technical architecture, we built the first five apps on the platform, too.
We’ve also worked with Google to build TensorFlow, the machine learning platform that more than one million developers have engaged with. The platform encourages anyone to learn about AI and makes it easy for them to find education and resources around it — and the more people who use it, the smarter it gets.
Building for the Next Generation of Fortune 500 Companies
In addition to large, well-established companies, YML is experienced in helping an array of startups launch their apps and scale quickly to growth. We designed and built the first Credit Karma app, helping them grow to achieve their eventual sale to Intuit for $7.1B. We also partnered with HealthEquity, a startup valued at $6B focused on empowering working Americans to gain more choice and control over their healthcare and financial future, to build their app for Android.
In 2020, our clients received four Webby Awards for our enterprise applications and experiences — recognizing them as some of the best among the internet. The awards ranged in categories from Apps and Software to Best Mobile Visual Design. Designing these award-winning enterprise applications starts with our methodology.
YML’s Enterprise App Development Methodology
All powerful app experiences require an efficient development process. Our mobile experiences give enterprises a competitive edge that scales — from start to finish, the process puts design-thinking and rapid iterations at the forefront.
What makes these products create lasting impact, though, isn't just beautifully designed UI or meticulously coded software. It's a commitment to the idea that just because a product is 'launched' doesn't mean it's complete. Your digital product / experience is an ongoing, living, breathing part of your brand — and in today's world, your digital experience must live up to your brand promise. So we approach every client and every product through this same Silicon Valley lens: by creating a balance between building the right product and showcasing the value of a product strategy rooted in agility, so that the experience can evolve with the changing needs of your customer.
Digital experiences are a company’s means to connect with customers and generate business in ways that work on the customer’s terms. When building and scaling digitally native brands, we integrate technology into every stage of our process, giving clients innovation services — future-forward experimental prototyping — and cost-effective engineering services, including development and maintenance.
The YML team has more than a decade of experience building apps, and our team is made up of developers and engineers who work together to concept, prototype, build and ship new digital products. We leverage cutting-edge technology to work across multiple time zones and collaborate in a single space (from Figma to Miro and beyond). Our methodology can be broken down into four key phases: definition, design, development and optimization.
During this phase, a cross-discipline leadership team works to understand the business problem, KPIs and our approach to meet them. It is also the time to align all client stakeholders on risks, dependencies and the shared vision.
Defining the project typically includes interviews and sessions with executives, project leads and relevant team members to understand the current business goals and other operational dependencies. Topics can include: brand and marketing, data and analytics, existing product roadmaps, customer and audience research, technology platforms and third party integrations.
Interviewing customers allows for a deeper understanding of motivations, goals, wants and needs. The methodology may include contextual inquiries, customer intercepts, surveys, 1:1 interviews in moderated or unmoderated groups and ethnographic field studies (depending on business objectives).
For existing digital products, a comprehensive audit of the current experience is conducted to review use cases, task flows and interaction patterns. In some cases, the review also includes a performance analysis that investigates user behaviors, areas of drop-off, search behavior and conversion analytics. Once the research is absorbed by the team, a prototype is created to express potential new design directions and interaction paradigms. This prototype will represent the product system of colors, typography, sizing and space, UI elements and patterns.
Competitive analysis is conducted for any app development projects — from inspiration and best practices to research of direct competitors and other industries’ digital experiences that address similar customer needs.
Product requirements and planning
The last step for the definition and planning stage is technical immersion, planning, estimation and prioritization for features. Topics explored range from source control and code reviews to ADA criteria and automations or dependencies. Prioritization is assessed by user value, business priority, feasibility and investment requirements. The level of effort for design and development is established as part of this activity.
Once this work is complete, the expected deliverables are a product strategy and a hypothesis to test, as well as a prototype and/or technical proof of concept. A product brief is utilized to summarize the definition activities and outline the ideal product experience. If applicable, a content strategy and production plan is also provided to support the digital experience.
On the technical side, a systems architecture and engineering charter is then drafted to summarize engineering efforts and critical information such as technical stacks and frameworks, standard operating protocols for builds and environments, third-party services and their API documentation, automation requirements and procedures, quality criteria, processes for code reviews and launch procedures.
From this, a feature matrix and sprint plan is developed that lists and describes all features for launch, along with their corresponding level of effort and priority. This document will also indicate high-level sprint plans for detailed design and development based on team capacity.
Once the definition and planning stage is complete, app development next moves into the design phase. YML is unique in our process because we prioritize prototypes over presentations to design and build interactive experiences that demonstrate the key features, elements and components of the application. With templates and component design, an enterprise is better able to scale the app and its functionalities later on. These initial prototype designs are an extension of the brand and include visual guides that will define all components and elements.
A crucial step of the design phase is usability testing of the interactive prototypes with users, and subsequent updates based on the findings. Integrating this step early in the process validates that users are able to interact with the product as desired to achieve customer, product and business goals. During design and development, documentation of ideal user interaction with the digital products acts as a sole source of truth for functional requirements, as well as a basis for acceptance criteria during eventual development.
An effective design handoff to engineering teams provides iterative versions of design prototypes and code snippets to the development team at the conclusion of each design sprint. User stories — or descriptions of features from the user’s viewpoint — assist in demonstrating the application functionality and the eventual acceptance criteria for later quality assurance.
UI kits and visual style guides are additional deliverables at this stage that are a more defined extension of what was determined in the initial phase. They highlight areas of shared functionality along with style decisions for application elements to ensure brand consistency and scalability.
Once design begins to hand off iterations of applications, environments are created to prepare for engineering sprints. These environments include development, staging/QA, pre-production and production.
Development consists of:
iOS, Android, front-end, back-end engineering
Integration with available Core APIs
SDK and analytics tagging
YML uses agile development sprints for the core development of experiences, which defines incremental work to be completed over two-week sprints. Within those two weeks, teams will participate in backlog refinement to review targeted epics and feature requirements and planning to estimate efforts mapped against team capacity.
To ensure alignment, engineering teams hold daily reviews to synchronize on tasks and completed items. Once the experience is ready for review, teams confirm demo and design validation with the client and design teams as to whether or not the design and functionality is as expected. At the end of the two weeks, any completed work or noted improvements for subsequent sprints are documented in a retrospective.
Intermediate build releases with release notes are made available to client stakeholders to evaluate the progress being made on the development of the product. These milestone releases are used to gather feedback from stakeholders at predetermined intervals. The creation and final delivery of test cases ultimately determine if the developed product satisfies acceptance criteria.
Testing efforts are completed as part of agile development sprints and include:
Systems integration testing (SIT)
User acceptance testing (UAT)
Once the digital experience is released, the final phase is continued optimization and enhancement. For net new concepts, YML conducts painted door experiments to further validate the customer demand of created concepts. In addition, A/B testing is leveraged to conduct multivariate tests to a subset of users to see if variations of current features perform better.
These learnings are a valuable part of the process to make sure the application is always improving and staying up to date. The more an enterprise is able to learn and iterate through released experiences, the faster it can work to stay a digital leader in the industry and mobile application space.
Ready to build something together? Drop us a note.