You and your IT team have all done your due diligence to build that perfect product. Now what?
We’ve always been strong advocates of Agile project management, and have elaborated much on how to adopt various Agile methodologies for differing project requirements. There’s a lot of buzz around Agile software development, no matter where you look across the digital sphere – but rarely does anyone talk about what happens after your product has been implemented and released for the masses to use.
Ironically, the constantly recurring feedback loop that’s a hallmark feature of Agile is also meant to be focused on product maintenance. However, what happens post-release gets side-tracked due to the pressure of overcoming various challenges and deploying the product. While product maintenance introduces a host of other variables that need to be resolved, and on an ongoing basis that too, it’s understandable why there may be oversight from IT teams for the same.
As the world continues to stay deeply connected via digital means and businesses experience competition that’s more fierce than ever before, successfully running and maintaining any form of software – be it a website or app, is essential for business exposure and profitability. Mobile app development companies in Sri Lanka understand this, especially considering the local behaviours and patterns of users here in the country. However, if you wish to expand internationally, building app versions that serve local audiences in your target destinations also forms a part of product maintenance.
With every upgrade, you have the opportunity to roll out a version of your app that’s better than its predecessor. This can include the addition of new features, or the removal of features that are cumbersome or obsolete. At the same time, you can also introduce elements that aid your business objectives, through increased engagement and conversions. This way, your app is always customer-centric, and your users can sense how competent you are as a brand, to offer products that are workable, useful and enjoyable to use. In turn, this leads to increased brand loyalty – something that will help you win new customers while being able to retain existing ones.
Unexpected crashing, or error messages that shouldn’t be there in the first place? Bugs like these can frustrate your users, and worse yet, abandon your app and look elsewhere to fulfil their needs. Owing to today’s markets being jam-packed with (almost) infinite options, it’s not hard for your users to find what they need from another business (that could end up being your direct competitor, that too).
Data breaches have been quite rampant during these past few years. Although that sounds ominous, it is also a wake-up call for all of us to do what it takes to protect our cyber systems and ensure none of it is compromised. This is especially necessary for apps that conduct transactions, as users’ financial details are at a higher risk of espionage and theft. With developments being continuous in the cyber security industry, adding security patches also need to be a similarly ongoing process.
As touched on previously, every aspect of project management has mainly focused on building and deploying the app alone. Here’s a quick guide on how you can maintain your website, app or enterprise software on a regular basis, so you offer your users nothing short of the very finest.
Although every software development endeavour is unique, this how-to is general enough to suit any project – irrespective of volume, complexity or the size of your brand/business.
For this, a Minimum Viable Product (MVP) is ideal. Mostly used as a form of beta testing, MVPs are generally useful for every software development project. Apart from being an effective way to test how receptive your app is to target audiences, it also takes relatively less effort, time, money and resources to release one into the market.
But the key reason as to why MVPs are best is because they don’t maintain a defining point between releasing an app, and then conducting ongoing maintenance after; both the release and maintenance phases seamlessly fuse together, to the point where maintenance becomes part and parcel for both you (the product owner) and your IT team (your pool of designers and developers).
On a deeper psychological level, the MVP route subconsciously prepares your team to take on regular maintenance, without much preliminary ado.
With the MVP being your foundation, allow it to guide you on how you need to enhance your app for greater user engagement and appreciation. Be they feature, framework, server, equipment or security upgrades, each of these elements need to have a definitive strategy and justification as to why they need to be adopted in the first place.
With many business owners thinking long and hard, and making what are presumably safe assumptions pertaining to user thought patterns and behaviour, this point cannot be stressed on more! Once again, this is why an MVP will be useful, as a foundational version of your app presents itself to be adjusted based on how your users react to it.
Therefore, it’s wise to make use of that very advantage offered by MVPs. But how do you gather user feedback, so you know what to change within your app? Here are some sources:
The most obvious way to discern user sentiments, by far. Simply reading the reviews users have left on App or Play Store with regards to what they think about app usability will give you and your team an idea on what is (or isn’t) needed. In addition to that, why not hit a reply and request them to talk to you in detail, so that they can provide greater insight on what they liked or disliked?
There’s no doubt that each and every one of your customers, both current and potential, are part of one or more social networks. While general brand sentiment can be observed via the usual means such as post comments and hashtags, not everyone is directly engaging with your brand to voice their opinions.
This is where social listening comes in. Having the ability to identify reviews and opinions that haven’t been tagged with your brand’s handle, social listening helps you to extend your reach in analytics that would otherwise have not been possible. Sentiment analysis, on the other hand, works by identifying words and sentences through Natural Language Processing to further gauge whether what has been spoken about your brand is positive or negative.
While both these methods focus on evaluating brand perceptions, they can apply to app perceptions too.
Out of all the methods mentioned here that can be used to gather feedback, heat maps primarily revolve around the app, compared to external media sources. In a nutshell, heat maps are representations of where touch is most concentrated when your app is being used. Every tap, swipe and pinch is recorded, and an evaluation is made on where users have touched during every step of the user journey. With several online tools available for this purpose, heat maps are an easy and reliable way of determining which features are popular among your audience.
You may have started off by catering to your local customers. What if you wish to penetrate foreign markets too? Whether it’s a specific country, continent or the entire world, tailoring your app to suit international audiences is a task that product maintenance is accountable for. After all, the first working version of your app will be the foundation to base any other regional versions off of. This brings in a host of new and intricate challenges, namely:
Product maintenance is not given the importance it rightfully deserves, especially in the arena of Agile software development. While most remain engrossed in the intricacies of building and deploying quality software, discussing how that quality can be sustained is seldom done so. Given today’s business landscape, merciless competition that’s coupled with the plethora of options available out there for today’s consumers is going to result in swift abandonments of any business, should there be any lag of any kind
In this dog-eat-dog business world, having a website, mobile app or software alone isn’t going to suffice – ensuring each is on par with the latest standards is what will eventually decide whether your business is out of people’s minds, or remains in the game. A successful product maintenance strategy is the answer, and it goes far beyond than merely adding bug fixes and security patches on a regular basis.
In fact, your app’s product maintenance standards determine how your brand will be perceived by the masses overall; it isn’t just confined to how sophisticated your app is, at this point. What with your brand being influenced so heavily by long-term product maintenance, how else does this impact your business and its bottom line growth?
If you as a business owner are keen on having your website, app or software diligently maintained to attain stellar performance, how do you get started? While your team of designers, developers and their designated project manager will be able to advise you best, here are some general guidelines to keep in mind: