Would the IT be able to update a custom mobile app?

Would the IT be able to update a custom mobile app?
Image by Mark Fugarino

We are often asked by our clients if their in-house IT staff can take over the future updates or they have to come back to us every time an update is needed.

What are the types of upgrades that would be needed over time and what skills/knowledge would our tech support require if they were the ones to upgrade?

The short answer is that most people can learn how to update a mobile app if they learn how to code, but software development isn’t usually part of the IT’s job description.

Historically when IT needs a software or application, they just buy one from a prominent vendor. This software is often packed with all kinds of features. It is customizable mostly by configuration and sometimes by custom plugins and extensions. The software also comes with a license that covers future updates from the vendor for a specific period of time usually form one to several years. These are off-the-shelf software that are developed once and marketed to hundreds and thousands customers. The cost of future updates are included in the licensing fees. A good example is when you buy yourself a copy of Windows, Office, Sharepoint, keynote, etc.

The IT staff don’t create the software updates, the vendors do. Whenever updates are made available by the vendors, it is the IT’s job to download and apply them to the systems in the company. Most system software and application these days provide one-click feature where a notification pops up and the user can approve an update to go through. Some even update themselves in the background.

A custom mobile or cloud apps however is only developed for one customer. Whenever updates are required, the vendor has to spend time and resources to create the updates and apply them for the customer in exchange for a fee. These update may include changes to the application code itself as well as scripts that migrate the existing data to work with the updated app.

Software development is generally not part of the IT’s job description or skill set. So when enterprise has a mobile app developed for them, they often continue working with the vendor to obtain future updates. This may go against what the enterprise is used to, but in this case, they own the app as well as all the costs associated with maintaining it.