Custom apps can bolster business-IT alignment

The proliferation of cloud and mobile apps has transformed the relationship between IT and business users. For a long time, IT has resided as the gatekeeper to the business. The technology team would scrutinize every technology decision on the horizon and what made it inside the firewall and what was left out. This culture is changing and IT professionals must be prepared to take a more collaborative approach to technology decision-making and leadership.

In this new climate, custom development is emerging as a critical option because it empowers IT to enact necessary control over what is used while also aligning tech functionality with what business users require.

The case for stronger alignment
Apps are everywhere. If staff can't send a large file through your enterprise email, they can probably find an app to host and send the file. If a worker doesn't like your audio conferencing solution for some reason, he or she can easily download an alternative. Reflecting on information from Gartner, a Computerworld report explained that business units are getting so aggressive about obtaining the right technology that many will build their own solutions if it means they'll be able to work more effectively.

Jason Wong, an analyst for Gartner, told Computerworld that this enthusiasm is exciting on some levels because it shows organizational leaders are pushing for innovation. However, it presents the major problem of pushing IT out of the equation, exposing the business to risk.

To counter this kind of problem, IT leaders need to step away from their role as backend gatekeepers and get more involved in the day-to-day workings of the business. By understanding what users need, IT can better source and manage apps to meet demand. By assessing future demands and having a close understanding of company goals, IT can plan ahead to ensure it is able to offer the services business users will need before demand escalates.

Custom app development can prove vital in this situation as proprietary apps are designed to meet specific workflow and process demands an organization may have. This approach results in tighter cohesion between what IT is offering and what business teams need. Working with a third-party IT consulting firm can go a long way in easing the challenges that come with custom development projects.

Program code on a screen.Custom development is increasingly essential in meeting end-user demands.

Getting going with custom development
A third-party specialist can bring skills and experience to the table that many IT teams don't have in house. The reality of day-to-day IT work in most businesses is often centered on maintaining and sustaining operations. This setup means dealing with help desk tickets, brokering cloud services and managing end-user devices. Many IT professionals aren't given much time to do custom programming.

At the same time, the rapid rise of mobile devices has created new complexity in development, as user experiences must be designed across multiple device and operating system formats. Third-party specialists can bring experience from working on a diverse range of projects to create a unique solution for your business in a more cost-effective way. However, it is vital to partner with a development firm that is going to take the time to get to know your business and understand its specific demands.

Driving alignment with third-party developers
The programming world is changing. In just a few years, DevOps has cemented itself as a common practice to better coordinate programming processes with the needs of the ops team to ensure smoother test and release processes. By aligning these efforts, companies leverage the skills of development and operations teams to improve app success.

"DevOps is now evolving into BizDevOps."

A good consulting and development partner will take the time to understand your IT configuration and user demands so it can replicate the underlying aspects of DevOps as it creates a solution for you. However, that benefit is just a starting point.

Information Age reported that DevOps is now evolving into BizDevOps, a term used to describe the growing move toward introducing more business-focused thinking into the DevOps process. In simplest terms, the goal here is to make sure technology decision-makers work with corporate stakeholders to understand user experiences and requirements better so they can set clearer specifications for the solution and make sure the final app delivers strong business value.

At MC Services, our development process begins with strong business analysis and discussions with clients so we can gain a clear understanding of their operational goals and company priorities. We aim to not only create a solution that is up to specifications but also gain such a strong awareness of client business requirements that we can provide consulting based on our experience.
Alignment is essential when working to create custom apps. Without careful coordination between business and technology needs, you won't get nearly as much value as possible when establishing a proprietary solution.