Deploying and managing an enterprise app in a BYOD (Bring Your Own Device) environment is easier than you may think.

An app designed exclusively to satisfy your business needs can increase employee productivity and enable growth. Two shifts in the mobile landscape have made the development and distribution of non-public, enterprise mobile apps possible for organizations of every size.

  1. Mobile hybrid development has reduced software costs.
    Website development techniques can now be used to create apps, reducing development time and enabling multi-device usage in one build process.
  2. Company BYOD (Bring Your Own Device) policies have reduced hardware costs.
    More and more employers are permitting personal smartphone use for work-related tasks, reducing the business’ cost of purchasing and maintaining hardware.

Now that you know a custom mobile app is within your reach, here’s how to deploy and manage it.

Deploying a non-public app
iTunes and Google Play are out because your apps are custom and not for public use. Luckily, there are options for private app distribution.

  • Apple provides private mobile app distribution with a $299 per year enterprise developer license. Developers within the iOS Developer program can use a service like Testflight, which is an online service for over-the-air installation during the testing phase of app development.
  • Android offers private app distribution at no cost.

When the app is ready for distribution, simply invite employees to download it via an email link. The downloadable file can be hosted in the cloud or on a company server.

If you plan on building and distributing multiple apps, consider creating an enterprise app store for your business. This helps to manage distribution in one location rather than sending a series of emails. Employees can see all the available apps in one location and download everything they need.

Managing a non-public app
Managing your app means planning beyond getting it onto your employee’s device. The type and frequency of updates expected will help determine which workflow is the best fit.

Here are the two most common needs surrounding app management and how to address them.

  1. Updating the app: If content updates will be frequent, consider building the app with the capability to update “over the air.” This means the app can contact your server and retrieve new content at regular intervals. The other method for updates is to release a new version of the app. This saves cost in the initial development process but it requires the user to install a new version to get the updated content. Without an app store to show when available updates are ready, you will need to manage notifications.
  2. Removing the app: BYOD policies makes this a critical part of your app management plan. If a “current” employee suddenly becomes a “former” employee, you need a way to remove the app or at least remove the ability for them to use it. Mobile Device Management, or MDM, is typically managed at the company IT level and outlines removing access and setting app preferences on behalf of employees.

A common practice is to have the app “call home” with the user’s credentials on a regular interval (ex: at least once every 2 days). If the credentials are no longer valid, the app denies access.

Your deployment and management plan should be part of the discussion points during the app’s design and development. Proper planning will help ensure that your custom mobile app is a success and adds immediate value to your business.