Our Secret Recipe for Building Incredible Enterprise Apps
Accelerating Innovation to Our Customers via the AppExchange
Up until recently, enterprise apps seemed like they were still stuck in the Stone Age [some of them still are].
You only had these tech giants creating enterprise app software for IT departments and CIOs, and once that deal was signed, they would embark on the great implementation journey – milking away millions from the customer with each change request and upgrade. The really sad part is that with each added customization, the customer was digging in deeper and deeper into a platform from which it would be next to impossible to escape.
Lately, we are witnessing a new wind of disruption in many verticals of enterprise software, and it is obvious that the biggest factor pushing this disruption is the cloud and the ability for smaller companies and even start ups to execute fast, cheap and to the highest quality. Did I say fast? I meant lightning speed. The most amazing thing about this wind is that software companies are beginning to understand that they need to put the user first as purchasing decisions are no longer controlled only by the IT department.
Moving away from an incumbent platform can be hard.
Salesforce is considered by many to have one of the strongest cloud platforms for the enterprise and the AppExchange opens up that power to us in a manner which allows us to focus on the business problem we are trying to solve. We can focus more on the user experience without worrying too much about the underlying architecture, DB, Security, Identity, API, user management, storage, customization points etc.
Our first app, ShiftExpert was born on the 10th of June 2014, and released into the AppExchange world as the first native shift management app on the Saleforce1 platform!
It was first conceived in January, 2014 with the idea of building a cool & easy to use shift management app. Development commenced shortly after to produce a prototype that would help us determine the effort and quality level of what we could provide. Within a month we were quite amazed that we were able to produce much more than we had anticipated, and it quickly became evident that this prototype was closer to a beta app than a demo. Looking back, I can honestly say that leveraging this platform accelerated our development speed by 4x!
The Secret Recipe for Our Enterprise Apps
All of us immediately saw the true business potential. We also knew that we had a secret recipe with which we could achieve something truly great in a very short period of time:
- Domain expertise — This is where we had a big head start. By already knowing the basic needs and complex requirements (20 years in this business has taught us a lot) we could go straight into developing simple workflows with a heavy focus on the user experience.
- A strong, flexible and mobile ready Platform — The Saleforce1 platform really allows you to focus on the app’s business flows and functionality so you can dive right in and model/remodel develop and recycle as much as needed and very quickly. It also became very clear that the design would have to take mobility into account and the saleforce1 mobile app fit perfectly as almost all of the configuration, permissions and code is relevant for both web and mobile user without needing to distinguish between them at runtime.
- A Team hungry for innovation and new technology — Well, this is always part of any great application’s recipe!
- Our Secret Sauce — The ShiftExpert app runs as a native salesforce app but we have added a secret sauce on top. With a click of a button, our customers have the ability to call optimization services from our state-of-the-art optimization cloud. This allows planners to quickly plan and schedule shifts for weeks and months in advance by using our full SaaS solution that takes into consideration complex work rules, employee availability and skill sets, and even coverage, balancing and preferences objectives! This brings tremendous value to any organization and will grow to be one of the most impressive cloud capabilities in the SaaS world today.
We modestly launched our first version and very quickly new leads started coming in as the app was showcased on the AppExchange. We quickly added a free trial so that prospects could easily spin up a new environment and try out the app with demo data completely ready for the user.
This was a very big deal since in the enterprise space it sometime takes a full blown project to allow a prospect to try out your software. We started to close new business and it was amazing to see that some customers (specifically those with technical knowledge & experience on this platform) did not need us for the implementation!
Enterprise software with no implementation???
Is this for real?
I don’t think we fully grasped this notion until a new prospect called and said he has been working with our trial, tuning it to his needs and just called to ask about pricing and the upgrade policy [What happened to the 9 month sales cycle?]
The best thing about this brave, new enterprise app world is that you can now [with the subscription model becoming popular] push new versions to your customers with zero downtime FOR FREE ! Innovation for free.
Happy 10th Anniversary AppExchange.
See all the activity on www.AppExchangeTurns10.com