Enterprise app development with Flutter: What you need to know

Get a closer look at Flutter enterprise app development and some of our best practices

February 7, 2023
February 7, 2023
updated on
April 19, 2024
Guest Contributor

Companies today have one leading way to communicate with their customers, employees and partners: They do it digitally. And a very good way to make that kind of digital connection is through applications.

Complicating this view is the fact that apps aren’t limited to a single platform. Web apps and desktop apps are both valid ways to reach PC audiences, while the mobile app landscape is split between Android and iOS devices. This means companies don't just need an app development strategy — they need one that will allow them to engage all of these segments.

Organizations that haven't yet figured out their approach to enterprise app development, or those stuck with an inefficient, labor-intensive approach need to think about their next steps, and do so quickly. In the race to create a positive digital customer experience, enterprise application development services are a critical consideration.

First, it pays to take a step back and think about what an app can accomplish for a company. Then, it's time to take action and implement best practices that will turn any company into a software development powerhouse.

Enterprise apps: How companies connect with audiences

Bain & Company research confirms that people reach for digital channels first when communicating with brands. The consultancy analyzed the data and found that both banks and consumer product companies that prioritize tech are leading their competitors in terms of compound annual growth rate and shareholder return.

These market leaders have decided to make technology a key part of their value proposition, embracing digital transformation to turn themselves into enterprise software development companies alongside their core business. While in decades past it may have seemed absurd for a bank to have a fully functioning team of coders on staff, today that's simply the cost of doing business — fast-moving companies need enterprise software, and someone has to develop it.

Once an organization is functioning as an enterprise app development company, it gains exciting new ways to interact with customers and internal users alike. Real-world examples of enterprise apps in action include:

  • Toyota: Advanced vehicle control features on easy-to-use touchscreen displays.
  • Betterment: Reliable on-the-go investing through a multi-platform mobile application.
  • Alibaba: A feature-rich e-commerce marketplace application with massive scalability.
  • BMW: Simplified vehicle tech system access through a mobile application.

The importance of multi-platform app development

The rise of Flutter is a fast-growing phenomenon: Over 1,000 new apps built with the framework are released every day. Organizations have seen the value of multi-platform development and are shifting rapidly to take advantage of it.

Flutter development is a revelation for companies because it combines the best of both worlds — teams can create powerful apps that make effective use of devices' processing power while uniting around a single codebase.

Without the headaches of managing multiple development streams, companies can focus on creating better apps, rather than simply trying to keep up between teams. They can push for tweaks to improve the digital user experience, or work on fine-tuning performance.

A good application will keep evolving over time, driven by both a long-term road map and short-term updates in response to usage patterns and feedback. A business developing its enterprise solution in Flutter can work on these priorities, rather than sacrificing time and effort to managing multiple code bases.

Choosing Flutter as an enterprise software development framework isn't just a good choice because of its multi-platform nature, either. The Flutter environment contains over 29,000 packages, allowing developers to quickly and painlessly build out their apps' functionality.

Once a business has committed to multi-platform development and shifted its codebase over to Flutter, it's time for that organization to make sure its developers are adhering to best practices and getting the most out of their efforts.

App development best practices

Rather than implementing quick-fix solutions to sharpen their app development practices, companies have to fully rethink the way they work. This doesn't have to act as a barrier stopping companies from developing enterprise software. Many of the best practices powering modern enterprise app development are common-sense ideas that pay off quickly.

At Very Good Ventures, we've given a lot of thought to these best practices and ideal workflows, as we've refined our Very Good approach to enterprise app development. The following are the five main areas we focus on in our method, and which can easily become part of any company's strategy.

1. Architecture

One of the most impactful decisions enterprise mobile app development teams will make is the way they structure the architecture of their software. If they choose a consistent, simple method, it becomes easier for each individual app developer to understand how the app works.

Breaking the functions of the app down into discrete layers is a key practice. This allows the team to build out code that is "boring" and easy to grasp, even for a new team member who has just joined the project. The net result is easier bug fixes and less time briefing new developers on how the app works.

State management should be another priority in addition to layered architecture. By choosing a reliable state management solution, a development team can set itself up with a simplified testing process and comprehensive documentation, making its own job easier.

2. Testing

Testing today should be a mixture of multiple methodologies. Manual quality assurance processes are still useful, no matter how advanced automation becomes. With that said, the increasing use of automation helps organizations attain very high levels of coverage to release code with fewer errors.

Attaining high levels of automated test coverage is a valuable practice for both short-term reasons, such as eliminating bugs before they reach production, and long-term purposes, including creating code that will keep functioning effectively through years and refactors.

Setting a high threshold of test coverage and then raising that standard over time is a valuable practice when organizations are determining how to handle this aspect of development. Working in this way, developers can approach 100% code coverage.

3. Configuration

Enterprise application configuration should be driven by the same best practices that have caught on in the mobile app development world. Perhaps most prominently, this means continuous integration. Small, rapid changes are a low-risk and highly effective way to roll out new features and bug fixes.

In addition to a good CI framework, organizations should have standardized processes that they rely on. A lack of esoteric practices has long-term benefits for developers, as any non-standard actions can lead to overly complicated code down the line.

Working in Flutter, developers have access to another simplifying feature that can help them do their jobs: build flavors. This functionality allows users to set up different builds that make sense for their team. For example,  setting up a development build can allow teams to move quickly and see changes in real time, while a separate stable build runs in production.

4. Automation

Adding automation to the development process has numerous benefits that make it worth the effort. Perhaps most prominently, removing manual work gives developers time back in their days. They can spend those hours saved on more experimental efforts, working on new items on the application's development roadmap.

Working with templates is one way to put automation in place. Developers can start a new app from a template, or use one to add a feature or a package to an existing application. The use of open source templates is a streamlining option for development workflows, one that encourages the continued use of best practices.

Repeatable and standardized GitHub Actions are another automation developers can use when building their enterprise apps. As with templates, many of these workflows are publicly available and open source, meaning they're accessible and community-tested.

5. Ecosystem

The Flutter ecosystem has extra advantages for developers. The thousands of packages available can plug into companies' workflows and help them reach their individual enterprise solution development goals. Flutter Community members, prominently including the Very Good Ventures team, are constantly adding new useful open source packages.

One way to measure the quality of a package is its popularity among developers. Other criteria to consider is how actively maintained a package is and if it contains adequate documentation.

No matter what their particular enterprise app use case may be, organizations can settle into the Flutter ecosystem, using the available tools to develop software that can adapt and grow in the years to come. Working with Flutter means becoming part of an active community.

The results of deploying an effective enterprise app

While best practices for enterprise app development are important, they're simply means to an end. The proof that these methods and workflows are worth embracing comes from the results companies achieve.

A reliable, future-proof mobile experience for 500,000 users

Businesses in the financial space have to deliver a truly exceptional app user experience today. Customers want quick, friction-free access to their account information and assets. Being an organization that manages clients' money is a high-pressure situation, one with no margin for error. Apps must be completely secure and reliable.

Betterment, an investment service with 500,000 customers and $26 million assets under management, needed a better way to manage its legacy code bases, which were becoming unwieldy and slowing down new feature development. The organization worked with Very Good Ventures to retrain its 20 developers in Flutter and move the app, piece by piece, into the multi-platform architecture.

With the app successfully transferred to Flutter, Betterment can keep providing a handy mobile experience for its large user base for years to come. Now that development has become significantly simpler, the company can iterate and add features, so the app will remain relevant in the future.

A tax tool that works for users and organizations alike

Rather than porting an existing app to Flutter, the tax administrator Berkheimer Tax Innovations decided to build a new application in the Flutter ecosystem. This would be an ambitious project, one that would use devices' cameras to capture document images and interact directly with the Pennsylvania state government's processing platform.

In addition to allowing developers to work with a single code base, Flutter offers a powerful tool set, so the Very Good Ventures team was able to execute on Berkheimer's design specifications. The resulting app provides a simple and elegant tax filing solution without compromising the security of user data.

The end result of releasing a reliable and powerful app was to double user growth year over year. The app runs on scalable cloud resources to ensure that it would be able to handle the traffic without suffering performance drop-offs. All those improvements came with a streamlined, cost-effective development process.

The process of working with an app development partner

Every company has its own use cases for mobile, desktop and web applications. By that same token, each organization will also have its own ideal development process. To achieve high levels of performance while pursuing their unique business goals, companies can form partnerships with third-party enterprise app development services, and these collaborations can take a variety of forms.

When reaching out to external teams for assistance working with their enterprise app development functions, an organization can control both the type of project and the depth of the engagement. Some of the options include:

  • Code assessment: An organization that already has an application, as well as the internal development talent to continue working on that app, may still want an expert set of eyes to assess its code. The third-party team can offer insights and recommendations about how to ensure the app is scalable and conforms with best practices.
  • App developer training: In cases when a development team needs an infusion of new skills, for example when a company is using Flutter for the first time, engineers can benefit from training sessions led by external experts.
  • Engineering a shift to Flutter: Shifting app features from native app developed legacy code to Flutter is a high-priority process for organizations hoping to move forward with a multi-platform app. To ensure success, these businesses can work with experienced partners.
  • Full application development: Not every organization has a full in-house enterprise application development team. To stay competitive in today's digital-focused corporate climate, these businesses can enlist enterprise application development services from experts.
  • Development acceleration: Outside developers don't have to take complete control of an app development process to drive its success. Kickstarting development with reliable frameworks and best practices can accelerate a development timeline.

At Very Good Ventures, we can help you add any of these capabilities to your organization's enterprise app development efforts. With a hand in numerous industry-leading Flutter apps, including the first commercial app built on Flutter, there is no more experienced digital transformation partner for your business.

Read our whitepaper to learn more about the Very Good approach to enterprise app development, or contact us today.

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