This content is part of the Essential Guide: HR mobile apps for employees strengthen HCM strategies

How should IT handle app onboarding for employees?

When it comes to onboarding a mobile app for internal use, IT should make the process as easy as possible. Here are several strategies to help.

When an organization introduces a new app to employees, IT can expect a lot of questions -- but listening to users from the start will enable them to adjust more easily.

App onboarding is the task of making users familiar with an app. When you teach end users about the complexities involved in using an app, they have a better user experience and are more likely to continue using it.

There's little difference between an internal app and their customer-facing brethren with respect to the software development and maintenance process. But because internal apps have a different user base and a smaller scale than customer-facing apps, they have their own unique set of app onboarding requirements essential to their success.

Internal vs. customer-facing mobile apps

While customer-facing apps are usually quite polished in terms of look and feel, the level of effort required is usually lower for apps developed for employees. This is not to say that developers should compromise ease of use, reliability or range of function, but they can devote less effort to making the app pretty and appealing.

Developers should not compromise on training and support for internal apps, however. Customer-facing apps must be usable by untrained customers whose sole responsibility is to download, install and fire up the app.

Internal apps, on the other hand, will likely include documentation that includes brief training materials. They will also have support available from the help desk.

Here are a few tips to ease the internal app onboarding experience:

Make sure that IT support staff participates in the design phase of app development. Listen to their suggestions, as they can often improve the app's quality and reduce the support load over the life of the app. End-user onboarding and use are critical issues for IT because they often deal with the majority of users' questions and concerns.

Similarly, have an end-user advisory board and solicit feedback from a select group representing a range of end-user experience and skill, both during the design phase and as part of a limited-scale internal beta release. Never do a large-scale rollout without verifying functionality, reliability and ease of use with at least a few real end users.

Never exhibit a take it or leave it attitude toward internal users.

Keep in mind that learning from feedback is just as critical with in-house apps as it is with their customer-facing counterparts. Never exhibit a take it or leave it attitude toward internal users. Provide a mechanism for end users to express concerns, provide suggestions and otherwise participate in the evolution of the app over time.

Consider implementing the app as a web service wherever possible rather than as a custom downloadable app. Web-based development often takes less time, and the functionality of a web service is usually easier to modify and evolve as potential user issues arise than a custom downloaded app .

You'll also enjoy Write once, run anywhere convenience, which can be advantageous in a BYOD environment -- but it's important to check browser compatibility in every case.

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