4 Steps for NGOs / NPOs to Decide Whether or Not to Publish a Mobile App

January 21, 2017 12:00 AM

Deciding whether to publish a mobile app is an important element of any organization’s technology strategy. However, given the stark difference between the open web and mobile app ecosystems, this is not a trivial decision. For instance, having an online presence can be as simple as filling a form to publish a website. However, mobile app development is significantly more resource intensive, requiring deliberate decision-making. Unlike for-profit entities, NGOs and NPOs need to carefully evaluate the suitability of mobile apps to their mission. 

Step-1: Stakeholder & Process Analysis

Prior to evaluating the decision-making criteria, an NGO must assess its service profile as follows:

  • List the stakeholders.
  • Consider which stakeholders can benefit from a mobile app.
  • Identify each stakeholder’s expectations of the NGO.
  • Describe the processes used to interact with each stakeholder.
  • Analyze which processes are suitable for delivery via a mobile app.
  • Evaluate whether a mobile app can complement or substitute each such process.
  • Assess whether the reconfigured processes will require linkages with other software systems. For instance, if a feedback process is planned for inclusion in the app, assess the need for further processing of the received feedback and the mode of processing.

Step-2: Goal Identification

Once the NGO’s service profile has been assessed, thought must be given to the goals to be achieved via the mobile app:

  • Information dissemination: The app is yet another channel for providing information about the NGO.
  • Access to service(s): The app includes features through which the NGO’s service(s) can be accessed.
  • Communication: The app offers a means of interacting with the NGO, for instance as a feedback mechanism.
  • User acquisition: The NGO aims to leverage apps to acquire users, for instance, millennials.

Step-3: Usability Review / User Experience Goals

Given the fragmented device ecosystem, it is important to consider the type of user experience the NGO wishes to create. How important is it to provide the user a native app experience? For instance, if the purpose of the app is to enable access to the NGO’s service(s), developing a native app may be preferable in the interest of user experience. On the other hand, if the purpose is information dissemination, a mobile web app or a responsive website might suffice.

Step-4: Resource Analysis

At this stage, the NGO will have enough information to prepare a scope document which can be used for estimating the cost/resource requirement. The appropriate technology option can be chosen based on the resource availability: native, hybrid, or mobile web app development.

Conclusion

Using appropriate criteria would enable an NGO / NPO to make an informed decision about their mobile app strategy. While resource constraints may not allow a full-fledged app to be funded, the NGO / NPO can consider including only the key process in the first iteration and add features eventually.

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NGOs should carefully evaluate the viability of having mobile apps

Firstly NGO would need to identify stakeholders, how they would benefit from the app and the process of interaction with them

Next would be to clearly outline the goal behind having the app

Third step would be to evaluate the type of user experience the NGO wishes to create

The final step is to estimate cost and resources required and the subsequent availability of the latter

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