Critical Technology Factors to Creating Killer Internal Apps


In part one of ‘Six Considerations for Building Killer Internal Apps’, we outlined considerations for changing our approach to building and modernizing internal apps. However, putting the business case in place is only the first step. 

To get the full, long-term benefit requires a number of actions. Here’s what we’ve seen to be critical factors:

  • Decisions on the web tech stack, and the entire design and development through implementation tools and process, are critical. These are not simple decisions. As with any vibrant marketplace, these are subject to change as newer, better solutions are developed.
  • Change to the organizational structure as this requires new roles and changes in function, to take full advantage of the design through deployment process that comes with using a modern set of processes and tools. Even if you aren’t moving towards a constant deployment model, the business is driving towards shorter change cycles as a recognition of outward forces. Let’s not forget that delayed change was how applications became legacy in the first instance.
  • What the strategy will be for migration? Will it be:

    • Clean sheet: applying design-thinking and building based on current business needs from the ground up. This approach requires deep analysis to understand what the business is, what the processes and workflow steps are and what information is needed to support them before building the infrastructure and application layer to instantiate them, within a consistent UX. The potential for significant improvements in productivity are higher than any other approach. When done well, this is transformative. This is where the fintech industry has its advantage. There is limited baggage and they can focus on a clean view of the use case.

    • A hybrid approach: based on analysis where the highest impact functions are identified, and a combination of new application and integration with legacy can gain a level of workflow productivity improvements. Over time, the needed pieces of the legacy application can be added to the core. This is highly dependent on whether the legacy applications can be adapted to work within the environment (not by any means a given), choices of the technology to support inter-application workflow and event management and definition of the interaction layer. It also leaves an inconsistent UX until all legacy applications are replaced. 

    • One for one, like for like migration, but basically a re-skin: While this is a low risk approach, it doesn’t improve productivity and is a waste of time and money - even if it does eventually provide a consistent UX.

 The clean sheet is a given for a start-up. For the businesses with an established environment, despite re-thinking what the business needs and rather than providing solutions on the inertia of what’s already there, the hybrid approach is the most realistic and achievable.

Either the clean sheet or hybrid approaches requires thought about what is going to happen at the backend. One has to assume that the current applications interact with backend service and data, often on a one to one basis. Critically, that linkage has to be broken, as in many cases the improvements will be in conjoining at the front end, into a workflow, services and data from multiple sources. 

The choice of a container technology offers the opportunity to move away from browser limitations, certainly where it comes to modern ones. Clearly web delivery is still viable as well as deploying via a container, it's a matter of weighing the pro’s and cons of each possible approach against the target market

One final technical consideration. In thinking through the architecture of future user applications, the issues of the wave length of change, weigh heavily. Large monolithic approaches are slow to change. The move toward a more nimble constant delivery approach impacts the development, test and deployment model, and also the design. As such, moving towards one of micro-components that can act independently but will work together with others to deliver a process solution.

In part 3 of this blog, we will discuss the architectural issues and some of the technology approaches which we think are required to make these efforts successful. Stay tuned! 

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Topics: Digital Transformation