How to Develop Enterprise Software for the Long Haul

Collaborating with business leaders, testing, and providing the right UX for all users are vital to enterprises' software success now and in the future.

Enterprise software has to solve problems, work effectively, and deliver maximum ROI. Brendon Ford, COO at Provoke Solutions provides insights into how to achieve those objectives.

What are the initial steps developers can take to ensure software solutions are easy to use in enterprises?

Ford: The first step in developing easy-to-use software solutions for an enterprise is ensuring complete understanding of the problem that needs to be solved with the new tool. Leaders and developers need to put their heads together to assess, define and understand the productivity issue that plagues the workforce. When it comes to goals and the long-term vision, if leaders and developers are not on the same page from the beginning, it will be difficult to see eye-to-eye on the necessary tools and strategy. Additionally, developers need to evaluate what the enterprise’s current infrastructure looks like and how the new tool will be supported when implemented. At the end of the day, it is important that both the decision makers and developers are solving problems to evolve and modernize their digital work environments.

How can developers evaluate enterprise software will work long-term?

Ford: There are a lot of tools out there that perform the same types of functions for different reasons, but not every solution out there will actually work when deployed in a specific setting. To get a better sense of how a tool will perform in the intended environment, developers can create a short list of tasks that the potential solution would encounter once implemented and then test each solution within that process. When a tool is tested for its most common functions, developers can get a sense of how it will handle daily processes, what hiccups an end user may encounter and what the ROI that enterprise could expect to see.

How can company leaders work with developers to integrate new software solutions into existing systems?

Ford: Developers and leaders need to collaborate when integrating new products into their existing systems. Leaders tend to define the big picture or the what but need to bring in developers to discuss how to create and integrate the solution. Decision makers should provide developers context at the start of the project by identifying the problem, the goals and the long-term vision for the solution. Developers tend to be process-oriented “logic machines” and benefit from leaders who can explain the impact of a new product and recognize how it will make their teams more agile and productive. When developers understand from the beginning the impact any new solution would have on the end user’s day-to-day, they can make more informed recommendations to leadership and design solutions that not only solve the immediate problem, but also fit into the long-tail vision for the enterprise.

Can you share best practices for ensuring a solution will fit the needs of an enterprise and its employees?

Ford: It is not the developer’s sole responsibility to implement and create functioning software. Rather, designing an effective solution for the end user requires developers to communicate with UX and design teams from the start. While a developer’s backend technology can very elegantly solve a business’s problem, no one will use the tool if it’s not intuitive. The least technical user has to be able to use the software easily or the solution can become more of a burden on the enterprise. Design teams can then consider the user experience and build an interface that is easily accessible and makes sense for the user. The best and most functional tools are those that can be easily leveraged by all employees.