Is your PWA web-app a Product or Business Process Tool?

Is it a Product App or a Process App?

I was chatting with a friend the other day about some of the web-app projects I’ve been working on.  We got to talking about and how powerful it is for creating web-apps.  And even though it’s “codeless” development, there is a learning curve; however you don’t need an engineering degree to create your own app.  He was intrigued…

The topic of conversation turned to some of the new “shiny” things going on in technology these days – cryptocurrency, machine-learning, artificial intelligence, etc, etc.  My friend has lots of ideas for “products”, he’s just not sure how to go about creating them, to which I chuckled to myself.  I explained to him that creating “products”, while certainly challenging, probably isn’t going to be his biggest hurdle.  Creating something the market cares about (i.e. someone will buy it) will be.

As we kept talking, I started thinking about some of the web-apps I’ve created and which ones were successful – and which ones weren’t.  I told him that at a high-level, there were two categories that my web-apps fell into; Product Apps and Business Process Apps.

Product Apps

In the context of the conversation we were having, I told him that a “product” to me was a web-app that always starts out as a good idea.  One of those things were you say to yourself, “Hey, wouldn’t it be great if there was a product that did <blank>”.  Then you do some market research, look at the competitive landscape, talk to a few people and start developing an MVP.  Create once and sell to everyone, so the theory goes.  This provides you a lot of leverage for your investment in time developing the web-app.

I personally think Product Apps space is a tough marketplace to create a web-app and compete in because from the get go, you’re trying to create something that will appeal to a large audience.  There’s a focus on creating a need your audience may not even be aware of.  While generalizing, these products are also more business to consumer (B2C) type web-apps, and consumers can be a fickle audience to sell to. There’s pressure to get lots of web-traffic to your app; lots of competing shiny things vying for your potential Customer’s attention (and money).  However, launching a product on the web does have a certain about of appear to it…

Business Process Apps

While you might consider a Business Process App a product (and in some contexts it is), I explained to him that this type of web-app is typically custom built (one of a kind) to address a client’s specific problem.  Instead of the create once and sell many model, it’s a create once, sell once model so you don’t get the same leverage as you do with Product Apps.

I find Business Process Apps are typically used to help businesses connect or coordinate people and information so they can more efficiently achieve a business objective.  Compared to Product Apps mentioned earlier, these web-apps are business to business (B2B) in that you (your business) are selling a web-app to another business.  This type of web-app requires you to have consulting, teaching and requirements gathering skills.  By this I mean you need understand your client’s processes and business objectives.  You need to help your client understand (educate them) the technology and how you can blend process and technology together to create a Business Process App.  I find creating a prototype within hours and getting it in front of a client is a huge benefit to both you and your client because it keeps you both “looking” at the same thing and making sure there’s alignment.  A prototype also helps to jumpstart educating your clients on the capabilities of the technology and how it can help them.

I also find businesses I speak with think is a great technology to meet their business needs.  Instead of spending a small fortune (high 5-figure / low 6-figures) for a web-app to improve efficiency and effectiveness in a business process, they see as a means to cost-effectively (and quickly) implement a web-app.  Game-changer…


Creating web-apps or anything for that matter is a lot of fun.  It’s not easy – apps don’t always work as intended, periodic misunderstanding of client requirements, etc.  Creating Products Apps might also be a bit more fun than creating Business Process Apps because you tend to have more freedom in the design; Business Process Apps tend to have pre-determined client-driven constraints as part of the design.  Your investment in time to create a Product App is more highly leveraged compared to Business Process Apps because of the create one, sell many model.  However, with Business Process Apps, unscientifically, I’d say that anything you create that’s a tool which helps businesses achieve their goals has a higher likelihood of market success compared to a Product App.

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