Saving Money with Consistent Enterprise Applications

Jason Beres [Infragistics] / Friday, August 20, 2021

Enterprise applications are the engine of most large businesses, providing the data, intelligence, and computational tools necessary to function in the digital economy. Every line of business within an organization depends on multiple software applications to function. Well-known enterprise software includes customer relationship management (CRM), supply chain management (SCM), project management tools, marketing automation, enterprise resource planning (ERP), business intelligence (BI) and others.

 With the dramatic increase in digital operations and cloud-based applications, companies are struggling to ramp up the number and types of enterprise applications to meet internal and external demand.

 However, older processes for building and modernizing enterprise apps are not keeping pace — resulting in lost time, inefficiency, lost productivity and increased errors. Companies need modern software with its properties of automation, connectivity, and visibility that have become critical to achieving competitive advantage.

 In this blog, we’ll look at:

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What are Enterprise Applications?

While enterprise application is a broad term, Gartner defines it as being “designed to integrate computer systems that run all phases of an enterprise’s operations to facilitate cooperation and coordination of work across the enterprise (Gartner Enterprise Applications Glossary).”

But enterprise applications can also refer more broadly to applications within any type of enterprise where several employees and processes are working simultaneously to perform various tasks. Some enterprises may orchestrate financial services while others handle sales, inventory, and accounts receivable. Regardless, many enterprises require different types of software to streamline various activities. This is where enterprise applications come in.

An enterprise application is a business software system that orchestrates a specific operation. There are many different types of enterprise applications, each containing its own unique set of tools and functions to perform a task. Enterprise applications can help businesses to minimize human intervention, boost productivity, and optimize operational efficiency through automation. This enables companies to scale without restraint or worry of outgrowing traditional management methods.

How Digital Transformation is Changing Enterprise Applications

A hallmark of an enterprise application is robustness, scalability and agility. It’s also important that a piece of software provides enough confidence for companies to run the most critical parts of their business with it. While this definition could have been provided 20 years ago as is, digital transformation is now taking the meaning of these words into uncharted territories. The most critical parts of a business spans across customer experience, operations and digital services. Robustness requires addressing a much broader audience in an instant way, while scalability requires addressing all relevant internal user personas with the right capabilities, such as relevant analytics.

For the most part, enterprise software over the last couple of decades looks like it was built with 50s-era UIs. Software used to work in big, clunky ways that was quite frankly painful for the users. Today companies are focusing on the real usability of software, which includes the user experience, simpler application flows, and simple connectivity to other systems in the enterprise.

"Digital transformation initiatives are bringing impactful changes to organizations such as the ability to work anywhere and anytime, identifying new insights because of cognitive and predictive processes, and reshaping the enterprise experience using modern and cloud-based enterprise applications," said Mickey North Rizza, program vice president, Enterprise Applications and Digital Commerce at IDC.

Why Consistency is an Important Function of Enterprise Applications

In most companies, employees struggle to use a wide variety of inconsistent applications. Some are old enterprise software systems bought from the major vendors, some are internally built applications developed over the years by different teams using a variety of platforms, and others are more modern, web-based applications. Typically, the only thing they have in common is that they all have inconsistent interaction and visual design. Adding your company’s header, logo, and colors to each application merely papers over the many interaction inconsistencies. 

When employees must use inconsistent applications, they constantly need to adapt to different interactions. What worked successfully on Application A, doesn’t do anything on Application B, and may cause you to lose data on Application C. It results in lost time, inefficiency, lost productivity, and increased errors – all of which wastes company money and resources. As new applications are developed by different teams, designers and developers waste additional time creating very different designs. 

Employees are very resilient at adapting to even the most cumbersome and inefficient software if they use it constantly. However, inefficiently working around system problems isn’t ideal, and no one adapts to applications that are used less frequently. Each time an employee switches to another application, with a completely different interface, they must try to remember how they used it last time and adjust their behavior appropriately. 

Building Consistent Enterprise Applications

Building great software is no different than any other technical endeavor, consistency drives results, which over time will lower the total cost of ownership (TCO) and raise the return on investment (ROI).

While there are multiple ways to drive consistency in application building, at Infragistics we focus on the building of UI toolkits and app-building tools that have many features that ensure consistency across applications including:

These elements help companies to lower:

  • Development costs
  • Testing and maintenance costs
  • Training costs

How Consistent Interactions and Visual Design Save Companies Money

A significant cost factor when building enterprise applications is when developers and development teams build their apps from scratch. Not trusting pre-built components or the quality of code that many pre-built tools offer, they go off and write new code every time they start a new app.

What’s wrong with this approach?

When developers build their own UI control libraries, they introduce a greater amount of uncertainty. They take on the risk of longer development cycles that in turn result in high project costs. They end up with a team building single-purpose controls with little or no documentation, and which have not been adequately tested and cannot be reused in other projects. And the user experience is compromised as user interactions are inconsistent

By using a standard UI toolkit that includes a design system, digital design teams can create applications with consistent interactions and create standard elements to use when designing applications. As future applications are created, the designers and developers will save time by following the standards and using the established design components. 

As shown in the graphic, a Forrester Total Economic Impact study found that by using a UX/UI process, companies saw a 33% reduction in the time required for project development and testing.

UI UX Cost Savings

Controls also need to be maintained and upgraded over time, which in many cases becomes unrealistic for individual companies, since the developers that built the controls move on to other projects. The result is that all domain knowledge is lost, creating significantly higher TCO over time.

At Infragistics, we’ve built rigorous testing platforms to ensure we can scale as the platforms scale and that we can adapt to change in teams over time. Our rigorous testing platforms also help build code stability. For example, our JavaScript data grid control has 27,000-unit test and automation tests written against it. These tests run every day to ensure high-quality is delivered every time.

Our in-house calculations1 show that the estimated expense for test automation on a rich control like the data grid in Ignite UI is 21 person-years, or roughly $1.9 million USD. Infragistics UI tools have hundreds of controls and components, with entire teams dedicated to delivering best-of-breed experiences that can be used across your portfolio of applications in the enterprise.

There is no feasible way that a development team building applications from scratch can afford the time and cost to test their components the way a company dedicated to building components can.

To learn more about the value of using standard UI toolkits, read the Benefits of UI Toolkit Standardization whitepaper.

UX-Cost to Build a Data Grid

An Amazing User Experience

Almost every study shows that improving the user experience delivers higher customer satisfaction and ultimately higher returns with satisfied, returning customers.

High-quality, third-party controls such as those from Infragistics “build-in” user experience. Every UI control we build goes through a user-centered design process, including design specs, customer feedback loops and usability studies. We devote extensive time designing high-performing UI controls and components that are extensible, can be styled to match any corporate brand, and are easy to implement. Ensuring an amazing user experience in our products is how we ensure you deliver more than expected in your applications.

A Platform for Building Consistent Enterprise Applications Quickly

Indigo.Design App Builder is a low code, cloud-based WYSIWYG drag & drop tool that helps design and development teams build business apps fast. It also helps ensure consistency across all of your enterprise applications. Our software platform is backed by a complete design system, is compatible with popular design tools like Adobe XD, Sketch & Figma, includes real UI controls, offers endless theming options and provides standards-based code output. 

It is a complete design-to-code platform that lets your digital design teams build consistent enterprise applications quickly and save money. 

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[1] To enable cross-platform testing, we’ve built a cross-platform testing framework based on several open-source tools like Cucumber, Gherkin and SpecFlow.

  • The cross-platform testing framework took roughly 6 months to design, develop and deploy internally at a cost of $180,000 based on UX design, architecture, development time and overall lines of code (LOC).
  • The Ignite UI JavaScript/MVC data grid has 27,000 tests written against it, based on interaction scenarios, and 1,800 UI tests focusing on cross-feature scenarios.
  • These tests were written over a five-year period, by a team with an average size of eight to 10 developers. Features are built based on customer need, UX enhancements, etc.
  • The Ignite UI data grid has 70% overall test-coverage for more than 200,000 lines of code.