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 yearly budget for app maintenance, a plan for future updates and the people to make it happen.
An ideal mobile app maintenance plan (and budget) will include:
- Standard maintenance as a minimum – such as security updates, bug fixes and audits against the latest versions of iOS and Android
- New features and enhancements
- Performance monitoring
Here are five things that your organization should include as part of your mobile app maintenance plan.
1. Security Updates & Code Maintenance
Even if you never add a new feature or refresh the design of your mobile app, old code must be maintained. This will include:
- Security patches
- Code updates to ensure compatibility with new versions of iOS or Android, and any connected APIs
- Paying down technical debt
2. Yearly App Audits
Roughly once a year, Apple and Google release a new version of their mobile operating system. Think iOS 11 to iOS 12, or Android Oreo to Pie.
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, mobile app developers consider it imperative to include these checks and tests in your maintenance plan – as well as any needed updates and fixes that are found.
3. Design and Feature Enhancements
Think about the business software you use most often.
Would that product be where it is right now if it had never evolved beyond version one? Would your company be where it is right now if you hadn’t evolved?
Your company’s custom software is no different. Version one won’t cut it in a year’s time, let alone many years time.
This means the design of your application 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.
4. Performance Monitoring
Tools such as New Relic and Firebase 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 your developers about 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.
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. Users appreciate when companies fix bugs and ensure their software is secure and safe to use.
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.