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:
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:
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.
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.