When I was working as an onsite change consultant, the project always began with an assessment. After all, you can’t figure out where you want to go if you don’t know where you are. These assessments always provided helpful information that informed the framework for changes to come.
The process never failed to uncover all the spreadsheets that were used in the company. Sometimes there was a small pile and other times – well, there were a lot.
Alternative to Spreadsheets
Spreadsheets fill in the gaps left by technology that doesn’t quite meet the needs of the user. They’re the perfect candidate for a low-code app, which can be created quickly using a low-code app platform, with minimal or no-code or the need for programming skills.
Many of them are built and maintained by one or two people who have control over what data is included, how calculations are created, and what is shared with others. Some are built by people for personal use to help them deal with the abundance of information that comes their way. And then there are others that are group managed – anyone can modify any information in the spreadsheet and it gets transferred around from person to person via email or some type of shared drive.
I’ve seen spreadsheets used for:
- expense reports
- cash flow management
- project management
- project estimating
- inventory management
- work orders
- asset management
Just to name a few. Regardless of how they’re used and who uses them, spreadsheets pose a risk to any company.
They are prone to errors and can distort information, especially those containing calculations. According to MarketWatch, 88% of spreadsheets have errors. That’s not a good thing.
Finding Low-Code App Opportunities in Your Company
So how do you wrangle those precious spreadsheets out of the hands of the people who love them so you can assess whether they’re a perfect candidate for a low- code app?
As with any change effort, you’ll run into early adopters, fence sitters, and “not in my lifetime” people. It’s important you gain their trust so they’ll work with you to help you identify what will be good candidates for creating a low-code app.
Where do you start?
If you know one area of the company that relies on spreadsheets more than others, start there. If you’re not sure where to start, just pick a department. You’ll need to sell this effort from the top by providing a compelling reason the leadership of the group should buy in to this effort. Make sure you understand their priorities and what causes pain in their department.
- Show them how low-code apps can help move their priorities forward by providing, if possible, specific examples of how you can save them time or money and make things more efficient.
- Share how you’ve helped other departments the same way; and
- Make sure you explain how quickly this can be accomplished compared to the lengthy timeline for a new IT solution.
You’ll also need an approach.
You can do one on one interviews with selected people or conduct focus groups to gather information. Make sure you ask people to bring along any documents or data that will help with the discussion. No matter what approach you use, you’ll need an ice breaker that will open people up and start the discussion.
It’s important to remember that people like to talk about themselves and their achievements. That’s always a good place to start when you’re digging for information. Three questions I always ask that really get people talking are:
- What do you do?
- What tools or programs help you get your work done?
- What change would help you do your job better?
Once you’ve conducted the interviews you should have enough information to determine whether it’s worth taking the next step to turn existing tools into low-code apps.
Share this eBook, the hidden costs of using spreadsheets to manage projects, with your spreadsheet-using colleagues today.Posted in Citizen Development, Democratization of IT, Rapid Application Development | Tagged low code app, low code application development, Low-code app development, manual processes