Agency workflows for Enterprise DPS customers

I often encounter questions about how Agencies and their Enterprise customers should collaborate on DPS projects. While not hard to do, there are definitely nuances to how Agencies and Enterprises interact when it comes to building apps in general, and DPS apps in particular. I’d like to outline a few scenarios and provide some best practices along the way.

First, let’s set a few expectations. There are cases when the Agency is doing all of the work for their Enterprise customer, and this will include the Agency owning the Apple Developer account, the Adobe DPS account, and all of the creative. This article is not intended to shed any light on that scenario. Instead, we’ll look at the following cases:

  • The Enterprise owns the Apple Developer Account and the DPS Account but the Agency supplies the creative
  • The Enterprise owns the Apple Developer Account and the Agency owns the DPS Account and supplies the creative
  • The Enterprise owns the DPS account and the Agency owns the Apple Developer Account and the creative

Enterprise owns it all

This scenario is very common for DPS customers who build internal apps for Enterprise distribution through Mobile Device Management (MDM) solutions. It also applies for brands who build branded customer-facing apps that they distribute using app marketplaces such as iTunes. Public apps will not only bear the Enterprise brand, but they will also appear as being published by the Enterprise.

In this case, the Enterprise has several options when it comes to using the creative content that the Agency will supply. The preferred workflow is for the Enterprise to extend an AdobeID to its Agency or Agencies that can be used by the Agency when they are making folios for the Enterprise. Typically, the AdobeID might be related to a brand or a project, and would not be specific to the Agency. For instance, if ABC company had XYZ brand, and Agency Q was providing creative for their DPS projects, then ABC might make an AdobeID called XYZ_DPS_agency@ABCCompany.com. The alternative is for the Agency to use its own AdobeIDs for content creation, and then they would share the folios with XYZ_DPS@ABCCompany.com for publishing to DPS. In either scenario, the Enterprise controls whether to publish the folios to its app.

In the case of the app, if there is a custom Library or Storefront, then the Agency can provide the code to the Enterprise as a .zip archive, which the Enterprise will include in App Builder when they make their app. The Enterprise, usually through their IT department, will control the Apple Developer certificates and mobileprovision files, and the Enterprise will also not need to share access to iTunes Connect or their Enterprise Mobile Device Management (MDM) portal. As a result, the Agency will provide the look and feel of the app, but IT will do the actual building. An alternative to this scenario would be that the Enterprise creates an AdobeID with the App Builder role and shares it with the Agency. The Agency can then create an app and sign it with their own Apple certificate and mobileprovision file. This allows the Agency to test the full functionality of the app without being able to publish an app on behalf of the Enterprise, since they would not have access to the Enterprise’s Apple Developer account. When the app had cleared review, the Enterprise would then log in to the App Builder with the same or another AdobeID with App Builder role and update the app with the Enterprise’s Apple certificates and mobileprovision files.

Enterprise has the Apple Developer relationship and the Agency has the DPS account

This arrangement is common for Enterprises who make apps but are unfamiliar with DPS or are interested in testing some apps as part of an evaluation. Also, it is common for a digital Agency who makes apps on behalf of their customers to use DPS to meet a specific campaign need for their client when speed market and a rich user experience is important. Any apps published under this arrangement will have the Enterprise branding and will appear to be published by the Enterprise in app marketplaces. The Agency would need a specific DPS license in order to use their DPS account for publishing on behalf of their client, so the Agency should contact their DPS Account Executive to determine if they have a license that supports this scenario.

In this case, the Agency will be making all of the content using their Adobe DPS account. They would use their own AdobeID which is associated with their Adobe DPS account for content, and their own AdobeID for accessing App Builder. The Agency would share folios with an AdobeID that the Enterprise controlled so that the Enterprise could review content using Adobe Content Viewer. The Agency would test the app using their own Apple Developer certificates and mobileprovision files, and then bring a device to the Enterprise or enroll an Enterprise device in their Apple Developer pool so that they could send developer apps to the Enterprise for testing.Once approved, the Enterprise would need to sign the app with their own Apple Developer certificates and mobileprovision, and then distribute it via Enterprise MDM or iTunes.

There are three app building methods that have been most widely used. The first is for the Enterprise to create a set of .p12 certificates and mobileprovision files for the app and transmit them to the Agency for use in App Builder, and it is the lesser of the methods that Enterprises use today. The next, more popular method, is for the Agency to provide App Builder access to the Enterprise through an Agency AdobeID they build for the Enterprise. Following our previous example, the Agency would make an AdobeID called XYZ_DPS_appbuilder@Q.com and share the password with the Enterprise. The Enterprise IT department would then use App Builder to sign the app with their own Apple Developer certificates and mobileprovision files, and ultimately distribute using iTunes or MDM. The third method, and most popular, is for the Agency to create an app using their own Apple Developer certificates and mobileprovision files, and then the Enterprise would simple re-sign the app with their own Apple Developer certificates and mobileprovision files.

Enterprise has the DPS Account and the Agency owns the Apple Developer relationship

This is a scenario used by many Enterprise customers who want to make branded apps for distribution through iTunes. They often want to do market testing or produce short-lived campaign pieces they need to get to market very quickly. In this model, the Enterprise would own the DPS account, but they would likely be using the Agency for creative. In the same manner as our first scenario, the Enterprise would either make and share an AdobeID with the Agency, or the Agency would create content using their own DPS account and share it with the Enterprise. Review and approval would be like the first scenario as well. Things get different in the App Builder stage.

Since the Agency has the Apple Developer relationship, only the Agency will be able to build apps unless they create and share Apple Developer certificates and mobileprovision files with the Enterprise. They would also need to enroll an Enterprise device in their Apple Developer pool to enable developer apps to be reviewed at the Enterprise. If they are unwilling to share certificates and mobileprovision files with the Enterprise, then they will need to enroll an Enterprise device in their developer pool so that they can send a developer app to the Enterprise for review. Once approved, the Agency would then publish the app under their own account using iTunes Connect. This is the same end result as when the Agency owns the DPS account and the Apple Developer relationship, which we did not discuss in detail here.

No matter how you slice it, it comes up DPS!

Each of these three scenarios has its nuances, and business rules will decide which scenario is appropriate for a specific Enterprise/Agency relationship. Regardless of how the Enterprise and the Agency collaborate, it is possible to use DPS to make apps and to get them to the appropriate distribution channel.

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