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Mobile apps are on the rise. The global market value of mobile apps stood at around $106.7 billion in 2018, and that figure may rise to $407.31 billion by 2026.

Apps have become integral to the way we manage our daily lives, and the world of HR is no exception. Over the past few years, there has been a noticeable surge in the number of apps designed to support the activities of HR departments. It makes sense: Quantitative and qualitative data play huge roles in the decisions of HR professionals, and apps are ideally placed to streamline the collection and utilization of that data.

Take recruitment for example: New apps are doing away with manual candidate searches and screens by processing huge volumes of applicant data and connecting recruiters to the people who are most suited for the job.

While that is one common type of HR app, it certainly isn’t the only kind on offer — nor is it the full extent of what mobile apps can do for an HR team. The challenge for those setting out to build apps for HR purposes is determining what problems need solving or processes need improving — and how an app can be creatively used to do so.

What should a team consider when setting out to create an app to support HR activities? Having worked with a host of different businesses, we at Studio Graphene have seen firsthand what makes for a successful business app. Here are our thoughts on the matter:

1. Keep It Simple

When it comes to an effective app, simplicity is key. Rather than striving to be all things to all people, a good app keeps its function and purpose as focused as possible.

An effective app is one that takes on the tedious and time-consuming day-to-day functions of an HR professional, allowing them to focus their energy on more value-adding responsibilities instead. However, an app can quickly become overcomplicated or unwieldy if it tries to take on too many functions at once.

Instead, focus on a few core items that will provide the user with tangible benefits, such as reducing costs or increasing productivity. For example, you could address communication challenges within the organization by developing a platform that allows employees to share news, ideas, and feedback. Similarly, you might develop an app to give managers on-the-go access to HR and financial information, enabling them to make real-time decisions and increase productivity.

The use cases are endless, but no app can address all use cases at once. To develop a clear, easy-to-use app, it’s important to keep the end goal of the app in sight throughout the entire development process. To test whether the app is simple enough, try describing its purpose/functionality in one unambiguous sentence. If this can’t be done, chances are the app is too complicated.

2. High Performance Is Key

For mobile users, especially those who rely on apps for professional purposes, an app full of bugs or subject to long load times is simply unacceptable. The numbers speak volumes here: Dimensional Research found that 80 percent of app users will only attempt to use a problematic, poorly functioning app three times or less before giving up completely.

For this reason, you can’t overlook the significance of the testing period. Putting a finished app through a series of stress tests will help you identify and address problems, and it can also offer insight into what problems might arise in the future and how they can be fixed.

For more expert HR insights, check out the latest issue of Recruiter.com Magazine:

3. Opt for a Native App When Possible

Another important consideration is whether to develop a native or hybrid app, as these have different reputations for performance.

Native apps are built in a specific programming language for a specific device platform (either iOS or Android). In contrast, hybrid apps are built using web technologies like HTML, CSS, and JavaScript, and they are designed to be used across various device platforms.

Native apps are known for offering the fastest and most reliable user experiences. They also make tapping into the camera, microphone, and swipe gestures of a smartphone very simple. Budget permitting, it would be advisable to opt for a native app.

4. The Best Ideas Are Right in Front of You

When creating an app, people tend to think about the complicated problems they want to solve. In reality, the most successful apps are those that solve mundane problems people regularly face every day.

For example, if we think of common HR challenges, one of the issues that immediately springs to mind is the process of giving feedback. An important task of any HR team is listening to and addressing the feedback and grievances of employees. However, this can be an awkward and difficult process for employees who might not be comfortable voicing their opinions.

An app could solve this problem by allowing users to give feedback quickly and easily through an online portal whenever a situation arises, rather than banking up their thoughts for a meeting that may or may not ever take place. The feedback could also be made anonymous for particularly sensitive issues.

Mobile apps are bringing radical benefits to HR departments, with more and more teams adopting apps to help them recruit new talent, develop employees, and keep morale high.

However, it can be easy to get lost in the ever-growing sea of options. When setting out to create — or adopt — an app for your HR department, remember: The best solutions are easy to use, do what they say on the tin, and most crucially, effectively support the real needs of your team.

Ritam Gandhi is the founder and director of Studio Graphene.

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