One of the biggest mistakes your company could make when planning a custom mobile app build, is not allocating adequate resources towards ongoing maintenance and updates.
These resources include a commitment and yearly budget for app maintenance, a plan for future updates and the people to make it happen.
An ideal mobile app maintenance plan will include standard ‘maintenance’, such as security updates and audits, new features or enhancements, and performance monitoring. You’ll find overlap here and they are all important.
According to an AnyPresence survey, more than 80 percent of enterprise app development professionals report that they update their mobile apps at least twice a year. Ninety five percent report updating at least once a year.
Here are five things that your organization should include as part of your mobile app maintenance plan.
1. Design and Feature Enhancements
Think of the business software, or social media website, you use most often.
Would that product be where it is right now if it had never iterated beyond version one? Would your company be where it is right now if you hadn’t evolved?
Your corporate mobile application is no different. Version one won’t cut it in a year’s time, let alone many years time.
This means the look and feel of your app should stay current, both with your corporate branding, as well as current design and usability standards.
When it comes to adding features, I absolutely do not believe that more is better. The approach I do recommend is listening to user feedback, as well as your business needs, and creating features because they will add needed functionality to the app, or enhance the user experience.
2. Yearly App Audits
Roughly once a year, Apple and Google release a new version of their mobile operating system. Think iOS 8 to iOS 9, or Android 5 to 6.
Several months before the update is pushed to smartphone owners, app developers can download a Beta version and test all their apps against the new operating system.
It is not at all uncommon for major iOS or Android updates to cause certain features of mobile apps to either stop working, or stop performing as expected.
For this reason, I consider it pretty much imperative to include these checks and tests in your maintenance plan – as well as any needed updates and fixes that are found.
3. Code Maintenance & Security Updates
Even if you never add a new feature or refresh the design of your mobile app, old code must be kept up to date.
4. Performance Monitoring
Companies such as Crashlytics make it possible for app owners to monitor the performance of their mobile apps.
Via a few lines of code inserted in the app, data is collected to alert us of bugs, a crash or other problems while the app is running on real users’ phones. For your marketing department performance monitoring also keeps tracks of how many people are using your app, new downloads by day, actions taken within the app, and more.
The possibilities are so impressive that I wrote a blog post about it which you can read here (opens a new window).
5. App Store Listing Maintenance
If your mobile app is available in the public app stores, an update to the underlying code or design is an opportunity to push out an update to your users via the app store.
A side benefit of this is keeping a fresh “last updated” date on your app’s listing, which gives would be users reassurance that they aren’t looking at a stagnant app and the creators are continuously improving the software, fixing bugs and ensuring the code is secure.
App design and development is not a one-time cost, but you probably already knew that if you found this blog post. The industry norm for software maintenance is about 15 to 20 percent of the original development costs each year (Source: Fierce Developer).
When creating a budget be sure to leave room for the ongoing maintenance and updates. And when interviewing app developers, ask about their maintenance plans.