What is enterprise application development?

June 20, 2023 // 6 min read

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Enterprise application development is the process of creating customized software that helps entire organizations automate tasks, streamline workflows, and increase productivity and efficiency. Learn how it enables developers to optimize an organization’s existing technology and adapt to changing business needs.

An introduction to enterprise application development

Enterprise application development enables organizations to simplify business processes in systems like enterprise resource planning, supply chain management, customer relationship management, and human resource management. Also known as enterprise software development, it gives organizations the customization and scalability offered by enterprise-level software. For example, enterprise-level software provides a more powerful platform to handle demanding business processes, store large amounts of data, and provide more security features, which aren’t available in consumer-level software.

Typical goals of enterprise app development are to:

  • Implement automation. Automating mundane, repetitive tasks frees employees to focus on mission-critical activities that keep them engaged and motivated.
  • Enhance security. Hosting an enterprise application in the cloud offers more security features because cloud providers invest heavily in protecting data and recruiting top talent to maintain high levels of protection.
  • Increase efficiency and productivity. Using an enterprise application to access one source of truth helps employees to streamline their work processes for greater efficiency and productivity.

The need for enterprise application development

Digital transformation is changing the way organizations do business. It converts paper-based processes into technology powered, time-saving workflows. Enterprise application development is a way for your organization to customize this transformation to meet business needs.

In addition to automation, security, efficiency, and productivity, developing enterprise applications for your organization enables:

  • Connectivity. Foster collaboration with a single point of contact for employees across the organization, whether in the office, on the road, or working from home.
  • Scalability. Address business growth and technological advancements without having to train employees on new software.
  • Customization. Incorporate feedback from teams and departments across the organization to continually improve the app for on-site and remote accessibility.
  • Personalization. Give employees the ability to create home pages or dashboards with tools and resources that help them do their work faster.

Benefits of enterprise application development

Developing an enterprise application for your organization gives your employees the specific tools they need to do their jobs efficiently and successfully. The development process includes evaluating your tech stack, identifying what your employees use or don’t use, and designing your enterprise application to optimize your technology. Additional outcomes of enterprise software development include:

  • Enhancing data management. Get data out of silos and manage data quality, usage, and security with proper data governance.
  • Gaining insight into app performance. Track system use and gather employee feedback to improve the effectiveness of your enterprise application.
  • Creating a competitive advantage. Empower your employees with reliable data and high-performing technology for results that help set your organization apart in the industry.

Developing enterprise applications for business needs

There are commercially available enterprise applications like Salesforce for customer relationship management and SAP for enterprise resource planning. In this era of technology and innovation, some organizations choose to invest in enterprise application development to differentiate themselves and help them capitalize on things like AI, machine learning, and the Internet of Things (IoT). For example, enterprise apps may be developed to:

  • Improve workplace safety with AI. Collect data from motion detectors, cameras, and weather sensors to identify unusual behaviors or dangerous conditions and take preventive or corrective actions.
  • Put data to work with machine learning. Learn what kind of information employees search for on the intranet to respond with resources that are most likely to answer their questions.
  • Enhance operations with IoT. Deliver data to employees—whether they are tracking equipment in the warehouse, monitoring temperatures in a lab, or receiving alerts for urgent issues—that helps them stay informed with critical information.

It’s important to know that there is a difference between enterprise applications and web applications. Enterprise applications are customizable, built to scale up or down to meet business needs, and are installed on a local server or private network. They use security measures like authentication and authorization and are designed to work with an existing tech stack. Web applications are designed for a large number of users and run on a web server. They often have fewer security measures and don’t interact with other systems as easily.

An overview of building enterprise applications

Significant preparation and planning are required before building an enterprise application and responsibilities don’t end upon implementation. To declare your software a success, be sure to include these elements of define, design, develop, and optimize.

  • Define goals with key stakeholders across the organization. Interview executives, managers, and team members to identify their needs and expectations.
  • Design prototypes that demonstrate key features of the application. Let employees interact with the application and offer feedback about features and functionality.
  • Develop the front end and back end of the software. Adhere to sprint cycles and schedule demonstrations for design validation. Evaluate your progress.
  • Optimize the application that you developed. Stay up to date on technology that will further enhance the functionality and usefulness of the app.

Of course, no development endeavor is without its challenges. Some you’re able to plan for, but others are waiting to test your mettle.

Challenges to enterprise application development

Enterprise application development meets the requirements of a whole organization, not just a few individuals. This, in addition to ensuring interoperability and providing a great user experience, is a tall order.

Anticipating the challenges of enterprise application development will help your developer teams to collaborate more effectively and discover practical solutions. Common challenges to expect include:

  • Managing changing requirements. Revising project scope during development often results in cost overruns and delayed delivery. Project managers need to evaluate and prioritize change requests to keep software development in line with budgetary and time constraints.
  • Addressing security concerns. Accessing sensitive business information on mobile devices introduces security concerns like data corruption, compromise, and loss. Authentication and authorization controls must be factored in when developing an enterprise application.
  • Moving to a mobile platform. Enabling tools for data and service sharing is an important consideration in a work-from-anywhere environment. Developers should aim to build an application that is just as user friendly on mobile devices as it is on desktop and laptop computers.
  • Storing data. Accessing data quickly and efficiently is an expectation of just about every employee in an organization. To help ensure fast and consistent access for authorized users, choose the right cloud platform for your business needs.
  • Ensuring interoperability. Identifying software that is necessary for day-to-day operations and building an enterprise application that works with that software is the key to a successful endeavor. Employees want to streamline their tools, not have to learn new ones.
  • Creating the best user experience. Providing a practical, easy-to-use interface may take several iterations before finding the format that makes enterprise software indispensable for the organization.
  • Determining the return on investment (ROI). Defining key performance indicators helps stakeholders measure the value of the enterprise application.

It might take anywhere from three to nine months to build an enterprise application for your organization. Planning and preparation, along with understanding the challenges, will give your development team the proper mindset for delivering a top-notch app.

Tools and technologies for enterprise application development

Enterprise application development requires tools like code editors, graphic user interface designers, performance analyzers, and compilers. When deciding on tools, you’ll want to investigate their capabilities for things like bug and issue tracking, sprint management, automation, and collaboration.

Choosing a technology that helps to address business requirements may depend on your organization’s budget or the skills of your development teams. Options include, but certainly are not limited to, the Java programming language and computing platform, the .NET cross-platform framework, Python, and PHP.

Cloud platforms provide the security, uptime, and availability that’s needed for successful enterprise app development and they eliminate the need for your organization to spend time and money on hardware installation and infrastructure setup. Cloud-based development also means you pay only for what you need, which pairs beautifully with the concept of an enterprise application that scales to meet your organization’s needs.

On-premises enterprise application development tools give you control over your resources, but it comes with high ownership costs and the responsibility for updates and maintenance. Opting for a hybrid solution gives you scalability and more control of your data centers and virtual machines.

To help your organization build, scale, and deliver a more secure enterprise application, GitHub Enterprise offers two deployment options: GitHub Enterprise Cloud includes advanced functionality on GitHub.com, and GitHub Enterprise Server is a self-hosted platform.

Developing your own enterprise applications helps your organization get the features and functionality to drive employee productivity. Explore GitHub Enterprise and discover how collaboration, automation, and security can transform your business processes.

Start a free trial >

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Frequently asked questions

What is an enterprise application developer?

An enterprise application developer designs, builds, and maintains applications that are used for specific business functions. They collaborate with stakeholders throughout planning and implementation to help ensure that the application meets business needs.

What are four major types of enterprise applications?

Four major types of enterprise applications (also known as business apps) are enterprise resource planning systems, supply chain management systems, customer relationship management systems, and human resource management systems.

What are some examples of enterprise applications?

Learn how Mercedes-Benz standardized its source code, automated onboarding, and helped remediate vulnerabilities on GitHub to deliver automotive engineering excellence.

Explore solutions from Seagate and CORTX using GitHub to enable enterprises to store more data that’s valuable for their applications and their businesses.

See why 3M turned to GitHub to overcome knowledge silos, share code, and collaborate across development teams.

Learn how DVAG conquered tool sprawl, unified the developer experience, helped developers manage code efficiently, and improved security control.

How are enterprise applications created?

Enterprise applications are created using development software (in-house) or working with an app developer (outsourcing). Before getting started, it’s important to document your goals for the application, determine how it will interact with your current technology stack, and get input from employees about their needs and expectations for the app.

How long does it take to develop an enterprise application?

Depending on its complexity and the experience of the app developers, it might take three to nine months to develop an enterprise application. This includes research and design, testing the app, getting feedback from those who will use it, and making improvements along the way.

What are the challenges of enterprise application development?

Challenges to overcome in enterprise application development include changing business requirements, managing security concerns, handling and storing data, integrating with third-party software, and creating the best user experience.

What is enterprise application technology?

Enterprise application technology includes the platform on which developers build, scale, and deliver the software; project planning and tracking work; a cloud-based development environment; and automating the build, test, and deployment pipeline.

What is the difference between web application and enterprise application?

Enterprise applications are customizable, built to scale up or down to meet business needs, and are installed on a local server or private network. They use security measures like authentication and authorization and are designed to work with an existing tech stack.

Web applications are designed for a large number of users and run on a web server. They often have fewer security measures and don’t interact with other systems as easily.

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