AppSheet: Construct Powerful App Tools for Your Business
Workflow drives any business and is needed to help standardize employee actions. Even small businesses can benefit from standardization to reduce administrative labor. While smaller businesses may not hire additional employees to accomplish the admin work, this work will fall on the owner to accomplish these small redundant aspects required to run a business. These aspects may be functions such as transferring data from paper to digital form, calculating employee work hours, etc. Creating new app based workflows that restructure your business processes allow computers to do the simple repetitive work and reduce the human labor spent “working in the business” so you can focus the labor towards “working on the business”.
Appsheet is one of the leading No-Code platforms for businesses. The formula AppSheet gets right is that the platform focuses app creators to decide on how data is captured and how the workflow functions while minimizing the ability to modify the user interface (UI) and manage other bells and whistles. Mobile UIs have evolved over the last decade to become fairly standardized today. Since creators are developing tools for business worrying about the basic layout of the app is an unnecessary waste of time and would require an additional learning curve to publish apps for use. AppSheet takes the best practices of a good UI and creates a standard UI that is intuitive, familiar to employees and just works.
The most important feature that other No-Code platforms miss is that AppSheet lets you keep and maintain your data. It can be a spreadsheet in Box, Dropbox, Google Drive, or even a table in a mySQL database that you already own and you can connect it directly to your app. You retain control over your data so it makes it easy to use familiar tools such as Microsoft Excel to analyze your data. This also has the benefit of keeping costs down since one does not have to pay for another cloud storage provider and opens up future possibilities to connect your data to additional platforms or services. AppSheet doesn’t box in your data like other leading platforms do.
The formula to create an app on the AppSheet platform is simple: Create the data structure, connect the data to AppSheet platform, tie the data source to a view type, repeat the previous steps if needed and then publish the app for employees to use. Apps can be a simple or as complicated as you want. A simple timeclock app for your employees can be set up in less than an hour. Add in some auditing features to this timeclock app and you can have employee labor summaries published with a click of a button every 2 weeks.
In the prior example, manual inputs such as a sign-in sheet or a traditional timeclock created a record that would need to be compiled at a later date. Whether it was monthly or bi-weekly, an individual would need to sit down and go through the logs and add up the hours worked and generate a report to issue to their employees. This is just one example of the time that can be saved by automating business workflows.
Another area where app based automation can help is by increasing the transparency into your organizational processes to provide a real-time awareness of your operations. For example, say you are a property manager that manages a large group of rental properties who does not use a maintenance management system because it is cost prohibitive for the size of the portfolio you manage. To provide some structure to your organization you have your central office admin manage the maintenance and customer call requests via a spreadsheet or by paper and the customer input is a phone call, user email, or in person visit.
While it may be simple to log these events as they come in, it is the process of completing these tasks that require the most administrative burden. Once the request is logged, the work requests are transferred for the technician to complete. It is at this point where the visibility of this task starts to get foggy. The tenant and central office will lack visibility of the request’s status unless they expend additional labor to call for an update or they receive a call from the technician. To get a status update individuals would need to start a chain of calls to figure out where the request is in the queue.
This back and forth in this workflow is required and visibility never improves over time and only becomes more labor intensive to maintain as the requests grow. The central office won’t have an up to date status when asked by an inquisitive tenant, the technician may have to retrieve his work orders in person or get an email with the details, the tenant will remain in the dark until the technician either calls or arrives on site, and the owner may remain unaware of the maintenance activities until someone generates a report on a monthly or annual basis.
One can see how one simple request can snowball to require many additional inputs and outputs which will keep consuming more and more manpower until the cost of business operations increase. Spending 4-6 hours to create a simple workflow app for the tenant, central office, technician and owners will enhance the visibility of the ongoing activities, help give a more professional market presence and increase upfront data capture to reduce redundant data compilation for monthly reporting or other required business administration tasks.
This was just scratching the surface, in the same example, it would be easy to function stack the newly automated process to capture technician work hours and capturing pictures of issues to help document recurring maintenance too. When apps start to reference the same datasets the utility starts to increase exponentially and the more your business can be automated with similar tools that large corporations use but at a fraction of the cost.
With this power, it is also important to remember that just because you can create a tool for something doesn't mean you “should” create a tool. It is easy to get carried away and start to capture too much data. In this case, you start to slow down the workflows of your organization. Keep apps as simple as possible and only capture the data you know you need. When you keep it simple for the end user they are more likely to use and accept any tool that is developed.
You can get started with AppSheet today with no risk. The team offers free plans that allow you to tinker and learn before you are ready to pay for a plan. You can get started quickly by making a copy of one of their sample apps to jump-start your project.
If you like the concept of low-cost mobile tools for your business, but do not have the time to create an app, CryptoCoach provides a service that will develop custom tailored apps for your business workflow. Please contact [email protected] or call 707-200-7978 for a free consultation.