Need an enterprise app to boost your business efficiency but don’t know where to start? This article will serve as a step-by-step guide to enterprise web development. You’ll find information about the best technologies, software development stages, must-have features, process duration, and cost estimation. The process won’t seem so complicated as soon as you figure out all those details, so keep reading!
Software that is available for the common public is only the tip of the iceberg. The most advanced, big, and complex applications are created for in-house usage by corporations.
Those solutions are designed for streamlining and automating the business processes, which can greatly benefit business owners.
Besides, enterprises are large companies that contain over a thousand employees. Imagine how difficult it might be to maintain order and create a good working environment. To control the staff and ease their workflow, enterprises use the web, mobile, and desktop applications that provide all features impacting the working process positively.
Later in the article, we’ll look into the types of enterprise software, the features they include, and the organization of the enterprise web development process.
One of the most widespread options for large companies now is enterprise web development. Web apps have proven themselves as good performing, quickly responding, scalable, and easy to maintain.
Web development is suitable for any business size, but the larger the company is, the more the application’s complexity grows. First of all, enterprise solutions have to be highly scalable and perform well. They need to process loads of information simultaneously, and it doesn’t have to affect the response time and other details. Apart from that, enterprises require an exceptionally high level of security. It might imply two-factor or biometric authentication. An excellent example of such system protection would be a SmartLogin – one of the software products that we helped to develop for the improvement of security in large organizations.
As you can see, it’s a great responsibility to be building an enterprise app that meets all the requirements. So that, we’ll discuss everything you might want to know before proceeding to enterprise web development: best technologies, team composition, project cost, and duration estimates, must-have features, and other essential aspects.
List of the Content
- What is an enterprise web development
- Enterprise apps vs. general products
- Best technologies for enterprise web development
- Enterprise web app development process
- Must-have characteristics
- How long does enterprise web development take
- Cost to build an enterprise application
- In conclusion
WHAT IS ENTERPRISE WEB DEVELOPMENT
Let’s start with the concept of the enterprise itself before jumping to development. Some people call any business an enterprise, but it’s a misuse. Several criteria can classify businesses, but enterprise relates to the business size. Companies can be:
The large ones are called enterprises. As “small, medium, and large” are somewhat relative, let’s proceed to the numbers. Small companies usually have under 100 people, whether it’s 5 or 95. Medium businesses include from 100 to 999 employees. And only those organizations with more than 1000 workers and a significant turnaround can be referred to as enterprises.
So, whether a business is an enterprise or not is defined by the number of employees, but there are other factors that go side-by-side with the concept of enterprise. Probably the first thing associated with the described term is security. Large companies process a significant amount of sensitive data, whether it’s healthcare, financial, educational, or governmental organization. So, the first thing we can highlight in terms of enterprise web development is high app security.
Security is essential, but it’s not the only challenge related to loads of information. Enterprises need high-quality systems that should constantly proceed with all the data, analyze it, report it, and other features.
Apart from the huge amount of information the app needs to process, there are other challenges. Software should handle the high load created by many active users and lots of integrations with other solutions. Enterprise web development should predict all of the above and design a system to remain stable regardless of the workload.
All these aspects make enterprise web development quite tricky and resource-consuming. Thus, while choosing a service provider, it’s worth paying attention to enterprise development experience.
Have an idea for an enterprise app?
EXISTEK specialists have developed numerous applications for different business fields. We have extensive experience with enterprise software, so if you have an idea, get in touch.
To summarize, enterprise web development requires careful consideration of even the most minor details at the very early stages. It implies choosing the suitable SDLC model, forming a team of qualified and responsible developers, deciding on the tech stack, etc. Altogether, a line of such decisions forms a discovery stage. We’ll discuss what other steps the development process includes a bit later. For now, let’s see how enterprise apps can be classified.
We can distinguish the three main groups while talking about the target audience of the enterprise apps. Developers can build the applications for:
- Internal use
- External use
Let’s look at each option.
Apps for internal use imply that they are used only by the company employees. Such apps can be divided into three more categories:
- For separate employees
- For separate departments
- For the whole company
The apps for employees are the easiest ones to create. They don’t have so many connections as the last type, for example. Also, they don’t need to process a considerable amount of data and integrate it with other software.
Enterprise web applications for a specific department are a bit more tricky. They have to streamline lots of internal workflows and can also be used as a tool for customers to connect with the specialists.
Company-level enterprise applications practically form a separate network. Such apps require the highest security level and stable access to numerous databases, documents, etc. In the case of company-level solutions, different access levels define what actions a particular person can do in an app.
Let’s move to the second type of enterprise application – apps for external use. They give the B2B clients access to some of your company’s data.
The mixed type is quite common as well. In its case, both employees and B2B clients have access to a certain amount of the company’s information. This approach usually aims at easing some processes for B2B clients.
Delivery services would be a great illustration of its use case. Say that an enterprise “A” provides delivery services, and an enterprise “B” sells something. “B” has its clients who need the services from “A”. To save the client’s time, “B” communicates with “A” itself by accessing the necessary data through the particular software.
There may be either one enterprise web application with different access levels or several apps for both sides separately for a mixed type.
As you can see, enterprise web development is complicated indeed. But with the right approach, it’ll require the same amount of resources as any other project. We’ll try to provide all the necessary information to form a deep understanding of the whole process – from beginning to end.
Enterprise Web Development: Software Examples
One of the most common examples of enterprise applications is ERPs (Enterprise Resource Planning). Besides off-the-shelf solutions like MS Dynamics or Oracle ERP, those applications can include anything required to cover the full range of requirements. An ERP system is a solution with an extensive set of modules and features. All of them aim at streamlining the workflow of the whole organization. Some help manage employees and clients, and others are responsible for logistics, document management, etc. Let’s take a quick look at the most common modules:
- ECMs (Content Management)
- Business Intelligence
Before we proceed to the description of some of the mentioned ERP modules, let’s clarify that they can be a part of the ERP system or exist on their own as a separate software solution.
An ECM system stands for enterprise content management. ECM is a set of programs designed to process all the company’s documents and other data. It manages various types of organizational records, including PDF files, Excel spreadsheets, etc. Altogether, it is a repository for all files and programs of a specific enterprise. Keeping files in strictly defined places is not the only role of the ECM. It also enables document converting, transmitting, reporting, etc. So, in general, the main goal of ECM is to put the document workflow in order.
CRM is a customer relationship management system. It helps to organize all data related to customers. All interactions with the existing and potential clients are recorded in this module. It also usually provides the analysis feature to track the patterns of contacting customers and, consequently, set reminders.
Accounting software focuses precisely on the analysis of a company’s finances. It allows planning all expenditures related to manufacturing, purchasing, and other operations. It also includes monthly or weekly reports on balance, profits, losses, and all transactions in general.
The manufacturing module manages the lifecycle of materials. It starts with their procurement to the production. This component includes many tools for inventory management, such as raw material quality control, planning, and optimization of the distribution and production processes. It provides the possibility to plan time and budget as well.
The business intelligence component works with all the information gathered from the whole system. It is a powerful tool that allows the company to make some realistic predictions about future sales, expenses, or revenues. This module gathers the data from the other components and forms regular reports on its basis.
The HR module manages all employee-related information from the moment of recruitment to the very retirement. It contains all the positions a person had taken, his promotions, projects, attendance, vacations, etc. This component allows building strategies for future recruitment and analyzing the employees’ actual performance.
What other modules are there in the ERP systems?
Want to find out some more detailed information about parts of the ERP system? What modules are there? What are their primary goal and features? Which ones are a must-have?
ENTERPRISE WEB DEVELOPMENT VS. GENERAL PRODUCT WEB DEVELOPMENT
Before proceeding to the discussion of enterprise web development, let’s point out the main differences between enterprise solutions and products for the general public.
Regardless of the type of app you’re creating, some standard web development practices are always applicable and recommended to use. However, the difference lies in the fact that developers should prioritize them differently depending on the app complexity, which grows proportionally to the business size.
If the volume of some app’s target audience is relatively low, and the software isn’t going to be used by large organizations, we can say that the list of priorities would look like this:
- Visual design
- User retention
So, apps for the general public use aim at the easy UI, usability, and user retention. The last one, along with monetization, is essential for product web apps because people are free to leave the app any time they want. That’s why it requires hard work to keep the users interested.
The situation with enterprise web development is inherently different. ERPs often neglect the engaging learning process because security, for example, is much more critical, and it’s wise to spend more resources on it. Apart from that, enterprise systems typically have many integrations with various data sources, which is also rather time-consuming. Let’s also say a few words about visual design. It is always great to have a pleasant and slick UI, but it is not as critical for enterprise apps as general market products. So, functional requirements are often considered more important than visual presentation. The thing is, clients always want the product on time, and the development cannot last forever. That’s why sometimes it’s essential to make choices and prioritize some features over others. For enterprise apps, we would put the web development practices in such order:
- Visual design
As we can see, web development is suitable for enterprises as well as it is for simpler apps, but the priorities are different.
BEST TECHNOLOGIES FOR ENTERPRISE WEB DEVELOPMENT
Nowadays, more and more new technologies appear, and sometimes it’s difficult to make the right decision. When choosing the tech stack for your project, it’s essential to understand all requirements in detail typically lasts decide what technologies can help you meet them.
Enterprise web development includes front-end and back-end development, database integration. If you decide to host your software on the cloud, you’ll also need to find the cloud platform.
Well, let’s look at the technologies that would be the optimal choice for enterprise web application development.
The front-end part of the app is what a user sees. As we’ve already mentioned, the visual design might not be the priority for enterprise apps, but the UI still needs to be simple enough. Besides, enterprise systems often contain so much information that it’s challenging to place it all on the screen. That’s why front-end development is an essential part of ERP systems, and it’s critical to choose the most suitable enterprise web development framework.
Let’s see what technologies can help deliver the best results. According to the StackOverflow survey, 40% of developers use React.js, 23% choose Angular, and 19% prefer Vue.js.
Each framework is relatively easy to learn and use, which is great for developers who don’t have enough experience with these technologies. These frameworks are component-based, which makes most of the code reusable. It leads to decreased time and, consequently, budget.
Vue.js provides such a helpful feature as DOM rendering meaning a visually presented structure of all HTML pages. As well as Angular, Vue.js has two-way data binding. In simple terms, it means that adjustments in the code quickly appear on the website, so it becomes easier to observe the effect of code changing.
According to the statistics, Python, Java, and Node.js take the 3rd, 5th, and 6th places respectively on the list of the most popular technologies. These languages are considered the best options for enterprise web development because they’re trusted and well-supported. However, they have both advantages and disadvantages. Let’s look into them.
Python and Node.js have a pretty smooth learning curve, which allows mastering them relatively quickly.
All three technologies have great developers community where people can ask for advice and receive feedback at any time. Also, they are all open-source and platform-independent, meaning that users don’t need special hardware or software to run programs in these languages. In addition, all of them have a large set of libraries for various purposes, which is very helpful for enterprise web development because ERPs perform extremely versatile operations.
The advantage of Java over its competitors is that it is multithreaded, which allows performing numerous tasks simultaneously.
The weak spots of Python and Java are memory management and speed limitations. These technologies have room for improvement in performance because they are significantly slower than Node.js and consume much more memory. However, if lightning speed is not essential for your product, you can benefit from other advantages of these languages.
As for Node.js, we can highlight the npm, Node.js package manager, as a significant upside of this technology. It allows managing a large number of modules efficiently, resulting in intelligent dependency conflict solving. However, we should say that dealing with relational databases may be somewhat challenging if you’re using Node.js as the leading technology on the backend. It’s more reasonable to choose it only if you use NoSQL databases.
We cannot disregard the core priority of enterprise web development, which is security. We should say that among the named technologies, Java is the only one with the required OOP approach. Python supports it too, but it is still much more flexible and adaptable. Of course, it can be an upside for some projects, but it can be a drawback when it comes to strictly defined access levels and data protection.
MySQL, PostgreSQL, MongoDB take the top charts of the most popular databases. Let’s start with the fact that the first two candidates are traditional RDBMS (relational database management systems), and MongoDB is a non-relational database. They all support predefined typing, which impacts data protection positively.
One major advantage of MongoDB over the others is the number of languages it supports. It can be programmed in 29 languages, while for MySQL, the number constitutes 19 languages, and for PostgreSQL, only 10.
Another significant upside of MongoDB, which is especially important for enterprise web development, is that it is the only one of three options that supports user concepts meaning the ability to define user roles and permissions. MySQL and PostgreSQL have a so-called fine-grained idea meaning that there are no user groups.
As we can see, the prevailing opinion that non-relational databases are not a good option for complex systems is not entirely true. However, there is an element of truth since SQL databases have much more advanced tools for dealing with structured data and tables with a predefined number of rows and columns. It provides extra data protection.
AWS, Google Cloud Platform, and Microsoft Azure dominate the cloud world and take the first three places on the list of the most used cloud platforms.
Google Cloud is the youngest candidate. It appeared in 2011 and is now one of the biggest cloud providers. It enables easy integration with other cloud services and allows uploading up to 5 TB of data as well as its competitors.
Excellent analytics tools are essential for enterprise web development. By this criterion, Microsoft Azure is the winner. It includes numerous tools for data analysis and deals perfectly with big data and enterprise solutions.
AWS is the most flexible option in terms of database integration because it easily handles both SQL and NoSQL databases. Azure, in turn, manages SQL solutions better, and Google Cloud, on the contrary, mainly supports non-relational DBs.
Speaking about pricing, AWS provides you with some billing options to choose from, unlike its competitors. Google Cloud and Azure bill users per minute. AWS provides the possibility to pay per hour and pay for used resources only. The second option allows saving some budget if you’re not going to use AWS’s full range of services.
ENTERPRISE WEB DEVELOPMENT PROCESS
When we’ve figured out most of the critical points about enterprise web development, let’s discuss what steps the software goes through.
There are many frameworks that help organize the development process. They are called SDLC models, which stand for software development lifecycle.
For now, let’s name the core development stages regardless of the approach. They are:
- Discovery and requirements analysis
- UI/UX design
- Support and maintenance
The most significant part of work specialists performs during the discovery phase, especially when it comes to complex systems that process vast amounts of data. So, during a few weeks, a business analyst, project manager, and UI/UX designers work together to clearly understand the product and form its presentation in the form of an SRS document.
The software requirements specification document contains everything that will be used by the designers, developers, and QA engineers during the following phases: user stories, diagrams, wireframes, roles, and permissions, etc.
The next stage is UI/UX design. It usually takes about a month to create app screen mockups and, in some cases, a prototype. While creating a product for the general public, paying particular attention to the colors, shapes, and other visual presentation tips makes sense. However, in terms of enterprise web development, the priorities move towards the logical workflow. The main challenge in the process of designing an enterprise application is to make all necessary information easily accessible by the users. The thing is that we often encounter apps with just 2 or 3 buttons on the screen, but it won’t work for an ERP system. One tab should contain a vast amount of information related to a specific field.
This picture represents how many elements one tab of an enterprise web app usually contains.
After designers finish with mockups, it’s the programmers’ turn to put all requirements into code and make it work the expected way. Depending on the software development approach, developers may work with QA engineers or one after another. The first option is more suitable for enterprise web development because it reduces the development time and the number of bugs. This phase typically lasts about 20-30 weeks, but the numbers may increase due to the system complexity. Besides, a vast deal of work is dedicated to application security and integrations with other software.
The support and maintenance stage starts when the software is developed and tested and fully corresponds to the requirements listed in the SRS document. It doesn’t have some timeframes. It lasts as long as the software’s being used. There are unique documents signed by both sides: software development company and their clients. They describe the responsibilities and rights of both sides, such as how many free consultations calls a client has per month, what their price is if the customer exceeds the predefined number, etc.
Software Development Team
Let’s discuss the development team. The number of team members depends on the timeframes and software complexity.
The usual composition is:
- 1 project manager
- 1 business analyst
- 1 UI/UX designer
- 1 backend developer
- 1 frontend developer
- 1 QA engineer
- 1 DevOps engineer (mention the security again)
If there’s a goal to build a complex solution in relatively tight timeframes, it would be wise to extend a team a bit and engage 2 backend and frontend developers instead of 1.
Some people would say that a DevOps engineer shouldn’t necessarily be on the team, but it’s pretty essential when it comes to enterprise web development. The thing is, such systems are pervasive, they contain numerous modules and integrations, and it may be challenging to launch everything properly. Consistent software delivery is among the responsibilities of DevOps specialists, so it’s better to trust them on this issue.
WEB ENTERPRISE APP MUST-HAVE CHARACTERISTICS
Let’s take a look at the core characteristics of enterprise web applications to summarize a bit all the presented information.
Secure login. Plenty of software attacks occur during authorization. They are generally called identity theft. To prevent it from happening, it’s worth implementing many-factor authentication. It can be biometric data like fingerprints or face identification. However, it makes sense to think of more complex solutions for enterprise security. For example, we’ve created an application for enterprise security, which is based on the AI component that identifies the usual speed of entering a password, computer mouse’s movements, etc. Later, it remembers this data and compares it with the actual results of each authentication. So that, even having the proper login and password won’t help hack someone’s account.
Simple UI. Enterprise apps contain a tremendous amount of information, and sometimes it is difficult to sort through it and find what you were looking for. That’s why user interface should facilitate this task as much as possible. It takes a lot of designers’ work to create a UI that allows storing much information and presenting it in an understandable view.
Reporting and analytics. These features are essential for any ERP system. As the automation of processes is the primary goal of enterprise-level software, it’s no wonder that automated reporting and analytics are a must-have. They help save precious time and allow employees to concentrate on more critical tasks.
In the picture, you can see the example of the data report related to order tracking. It presents all information concerning invoices and delivery destinations. The analytics component draws data from the system and forms reports according to the specific criteria.
Interoperability. It might not seem so apparent for enterprise apps, but more and more companies are now adopting the idea that even ERPs should have a mobile component with some basic functionality. Of course, mobile ERPs include only the most often used features that people might need on the go, but having such a solution may be pretty valuable.
For example, you can see a list of purchase orders and work orders. Compared to the web version, it is presented in a simplified view, but it still provides all the necessary information.
High performance. Enterprise web development should target high performance from the very first development steps. The workflow of a whole organization depends on the application, so it’s crucial to provide a stable connection and foresee how the system failures will be handled.
HOW LONG DOES ENTERPRISE WEB DEVELOPMENT TAKE
Creating such a complicated system is a lengthy and complex process, which requires an adequately gathered team and the chosen technology stack. As we’ve already mentioned, the development process usually consists of 5 stages. Let’s see how long they take:
- Pre-development stage – 3-6 weeks
- UI/UX design – 4-7 weeks
- Development – 25-30 weeks
- Testing – 2-4 weeks
- Launch and system setup – 2-4 weeks
Altogether, it takes from 6 to 9 months to create a very simple enterprise application. The duration of the process will depend on a number of factors, such as the team size, amount of integrations, number of modules, etc. So, if you’re building an advanced system, the development time may increase up to 12 months only to launch the app. It may also decrease if you need just the basic functionality.
When it comes to complicated processes, companies often follow Agile methodologies. According to them, the development comes in iterations, and sometimes only the first one may take about a year. Enterprise systems require constant adjustments, so in the majority of the cases, the development of internal applications for companies with thousands of employees is a never-ending process and can last for years and years. New versions of the app are being constantly developed to address new business challenges.
ENTERPRISE WEB DEVELOPMENT COST
It’s nearly impossible to calculate the development cost of an enterprise application. The thing is that the project duration affects the final price most of all, but it cannot be strictly defined for such a complex system. However, the development cost also depends on the chosen technologies, the team members included in the working process, the development rates in a particular geographic area, and the project duration. So let’s see what aspects we can predict.
Since we’re speaking about Eastern Europe, we can name the average development rate of about $50 per hour. Besides, we’ve also discussed the most optimal team composition – it is an average-sized team that includes 7 developers. However, it may include much more members, especially if the timeframes are rather restricted. We’ve also determined the average time needed to launch the first app version. It varies between 6 to 12 months.
According to the Agile methodology, all specialists work simultaneously, but each of them has different responsibilities. So, the 12-month timeframe implies that all 7-8 people actively participate in each stage.
With all that said, we can approximately estimate the enterprise web development cost for different levels of complexity:
- A simple enterprise application: $120k-160k
- An application of medium complexity: $160k-$500k
- An enterprise application with advanced functionality: $500k+
The development doesn’t stop when the first version is released. After this, a great amount of time and resources are dedicated to the app support and updates. Usually, there are two teams working on the project after the first launch. The first one is responsible for supporting the existing version, and the other one deals with new functionality and updates. What’s most important is that there are no predefined timeframes of how long the work may be going because ERP systems should be maintained and updated as long as the company exists.
Businesses in any sphere shouldn’t turn down the opportunity to try using enterprise systems. They are a powerful tool leading to highly increased business efficiency and processes automation. They save lots of employees’ time. So that you’ll have much more time and people ready to achieve the most critical goals instead of manually filling the documents and forming weekly reports.
Enterprise web development requires a thoughtful approach. However, this process doesn’t have to be necessarily complicated. We aim to provide clarity and transparency to our customers and deliver quality results in reasonable timeframes.
Want to develop an enterprise solution?
Don’t hesitate to share it with EXISTEK specialists. Fortunately, enterprise web development is among our strengths, and we’re ready to leverage all our knowledge to meet all your requirements and help you boost your business effectiveness.
How long does enterprise web development take?
Enterprise web development is a lengthy and complicated process, and it's nearly impossible to define accurate timeframes. We can get as close to the truth as possible only if we know all your requirements, and have thoroughly analyzed them. However, in general, it may take from 6 to 12 months for a first development iteration, but support and maintenance are a never-ending process.
How much does it cost to build an enterprise application?
If we take European development rates, we have about $50 hourly. Given that a team usually consists of 6-8 people, and the development lasts about a year, we can name the approximate price. A very simple app would cost from $120k to $160k, a price of a medium complexity solution would constitute $160k-$500k, and an enterprise application with complex features costs $500k and more.
What are the most common modules of the ERP system?
ERP systems aim to make the business efficient in all its branches, so there are a lot of modules for each business sphere, such as human resources, budgeting, marketing, etc. Among the most common modules of an enterprise resource planning system, there are ECM, HR, reporting, analytics, CRM, supply chain management, general ledger, accounting, manufacturing, and business intelligence.