Internal business applications are company-specific apps that encompass anything internal — from a simple approval workflow between two teams to comprehensive applications that support field services, inventory management, and HR functions, just to name a few.
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Table of contents:
- Why Employee Experience Matters
- How Low-Code Internal Business Applications Boost Employee Productivity
- 4 Types of Internal Business Applications to Improve Productivity
- The Benefits of Building Internal Apps on a Low-Code Platform
Internal business apps are often custom-developed using traditional coding that can take months to build or using commercial off-the-shelf-solutions that are costly and difficult to customize.
The advent of SaaS and software purchases decentralized from IT has contributed to the proliferation of apps inside organizations. But while the intent has been noble — trying to solve business problems and make users more productive — it’s had the opposite effect.
Multiple apps can create friction and app fatigue, which negatively impacts employee engagement — especially if the provided experiences feel disjointed and misaligned with the company’s brand look and feel, or if accessing them means searching around multiple sources, resulting in a myriad of browser tabs open. When relying on traditional coding or customizing an off-the-shelf package, the complexity becomes exponentially exhausting.
IT teams are facing a huge backlog of requests to build apps across their enterprises. On top of that, many organizations are struggling with an IT talent shortage, and traditional development methods are not up to par with today's demands for speed, agility, and innovation.
So, how do you deploy stellar digital experiences that can boost employee efficiency, productivity, and overall job satisfaction?
Why Employee Experience Matters
The rise of remote and hybrid work has changed how workforces interact with their employers. Accelerated by the pandemic, it’s part of an overall shift that’s been a long time coming: a deeper recognition that employee experience (EX) is foundational to business performance.
IT and business leaders increasingly acknowledge the key role EX plays in attracting and retaining the best talent. According to a recent Qualtrics study, retaining top performers is the No. 1 priority of most C-suite leaders, with 72 percent of executives reporting that they plan to spend more to retain their workforce in 2022. That’s up from 62 percent in 2021 — which makes sense given how much it costs to recruit, onboard, and develop new hires.
Today's employees have high expectations for the digital tools they need to do their day-to-day work — and have far less tolerance for cumbersome, inefficient processes. Dated tools and legacy applications that are difficult to maintain and unable to update no longer have a place in an employee-focused digital reality that is transforming rapidly.
How Low-Code Internal Business Applications Boost Employee Productivity
Internal business applications should function as the bonding matter of a heterogeneous fabric of systems, and their primary mission is to connect different parts of the organization and enable cross-system automation. Ultimately, these internal business applications must bridge gaps between systems, allowing the organization to function (ideally) with greater efficiency.
Historically, these apps were notorious for an absence of automation and for poor UX/UI. When employees have to log in to a system 20 or 30 times a day to do the exact same thing, you end up with an experience problem. But with modern-built apps rich in automation, you can alleviate redundant, manual tasks and consolidate the employee experience.
With the increase of distributed workforces and virtual environments, employees today expect personalized experiences similar to their interactions with consumer brands. That’s where a low-code platform can offer incredible value.
Low-code is a software development approach that enables the delivery of applications faster and with minimal hand-coding, giving organizations the ability to rapidly build and connect apps that elevate internal operations and help improve efficiency.
4 Types of Internal Business Applications to Improve Productivity
Here are 4 types of internal business apps you can build on a low-code platform to uplevel the employee experience and make them more productive:
- Employee onboarding and support: From talent management and training, to compensation, benefits and compliance, HR departments can eliminate manual tasks and scattered data and provide a better first impression to applicants with processes that flow seamlessly. Beyond hiring, integrated HR apps and portals — tailored to operational needs — like providing employees with easy access to commonly required services, such as expense submission, leave requests, work permits, and so much more.
A great example of aggregating services and functionalities within a single environment is the employee “super-app” developed by OutSystems customer Telkomsel. The app developed by the Indonesian carrier includes 60+ features — from employee onboarding, timesheets, emergency alerts, travel requests, and more. And they went from ideation to production in just under four months.
- Field service management: To keep customers and employees happy, field agents on-the-go need secure and reliable access to databases and systems, even offline. Mobile field service apps give field service employees and contractors fast, real-time visibility to help them on the job — giving them the information they need, when they need it. With customized mobile field services apps, technicians can increase their first-time fix rates and reduce the amount of time they spend switching between different applications.
That’s exactly what Monadelphous did. This Australian-based customer developed "MonaWork" — a mobile app that has streamlined employee engagement and improved user experience for over 2,000 employees. It has provided the workforce with a single app that unifies all work-related communication and scheduling. Employees are able to see upcoming work requirements and accept jobs with one click. Their calendars update automatically, and any messages, contacts, travel, and accommodation details are easy to find without searching through emails.
- Order and inventory management: There's never a dull moment for a modern supply chain organization, and becoming more resilient to disruptions is a make-or-break imperative. With a low-code platform, businesses can build order management systems that easily integrate with existing systems or create something completely new — each in far less time. The result? Lower maintenance burden on employees while stores and warehouses are replenished and logistics are safe from supply chain disruptions.
And that level of assurance was what Rossmann Poland got once they started using OutSystems a little over two-and-a-half years ago. The Polish retailer has relied on an OutSystems-based logistics app called “S-Hub” in its central distribution warehouse, which — along with 24 other applications built in the meantime — have made Rossmann a more agile organization. Their newly attained resiliency was tested and proven when they were able to quickly adapt to the many disruptions the COVID pandemic threw at retailers.
- Approvals and exception management: Enterprises are looking to create modern, interconnected workplaces rich in automation, but they still need to maintain an engaging, people-first approach. That’s why it’s critical to build intuitive applications tailored to specific operational models. A low-code platform allows companies to add crucial workflow automation to your business processes — such as documentation management (e-signature apps and document approval), contract management, and expense management (expense tracking, travel scheduling, and internal procurement) — for better engagement and productivity.
The sky really is the limit for what businesses can build with OutSystems. Take a look at Redington Gulf — an IT distributor with multi-billion-dollar turnover that wanted to modernize its complex, manual approach to rebate program management. With no fast or cost-effective way to change its core systems, Redington decided to build around them, using OutSystems to create an RPA-assisted app in just three weeks. The new app has already increased the efficiency and accuracy with which the team inputs data, delights its users, and benefits from a proven template for future process reengineering.
The Benefits of Building Internal Apps on a Low-Code Platform
As companies become more customer-focused, they start realizing the benefits of using the same processes, ideas, and technologies that work externally for internal use. Internal business applications must now look pixel-perfect and provide users a rewarding experience, directly impacting operational efficiency, talent retention, and even employer brand awareness.
With a high-performance low-code platform, you can respond by rapidly building internal business applications and enhancing how your employees collaborate and execute their day-to-day work. Regardless of which department, a low-code development platform allows you to tailor modern applications with no restraints to create a modern, interconnected workplace — rich in automation and more efficient than ever.
Visit our page to learn more about how you can use OutSystems high-performance low-code to build internal business apps that boost employee productivity and improve the employee experience.