Five years ago, Sympo, Inc., a Quickbase Solution Provider (QSP), began working with Reading & Math, Inc. on a number of app development projects to help better support and expand the organization’s educational proficiency programs for children.
Recently, we checked in with Phil Rudy, Project Manager & UI/UX Designer for Sympo and his two colleagues, Michael Geary, Lead Technical Architect, and Cindy Juengling, a Quickbase power builder, to learn more about how they are collaborating with Reading & Math’s internal team of Quickbase innovators, led by Information Systems Manager, Ryan Kjesbo-Johnson.
Sympo’s experts are valued extensions of Reading & Math’s Quickbase team, providing consultation and development services as required, including custom-coded tools that extend native Quickbase capabilities.
Phil: Reading & Math came to us in 2013 to build three basic Quickbase apps for tracking and managing:
- AmeriCorp member activities
- Partner sites, schools, and community centers
- Master coaches—literary and math experts who visit and train members, and other staff
We began working with Ryan when he joined Reading & Math in 2015 and have continued to collaborate on different projects with him and his growing team of Quickbase builders. They’ve ramped up pretty quickly, and now do most of the heavy lifting with regard to overseeing and evolving their Quickbase platform. They reach out to us for things like broader application build-outs and/or where the advanced programming portion of our services is needed.
New Tools and Integrations
Quickbase integrations with iCIMS (Reading & Math’s HR cloud-based system), along with the development of custom onboarding and invoicing tools that amplify the benefits of the Quickbase platform, are a few areas where Sympo know-how has made a real difference. With less time and effort required to carry out these business-critical activities, more time can be devoted to expanding Reading & Math’s mission.
Michael: The organization is always expanding, and onboarding is a huge and frequent need. Tracking everything through a single process, especially when different roles need to be routed down different paths requires more than just pulling data from iCIMS and dropping it into Quickbase. Some people may require background checks, for instance. Others may have different paperwork or special needs. And some will need specific training scheduled when they begin and in the future.
To help simplify and streamline onboarding we needed to apply a lot of business logic to the iCIMS integration. By running things through a business app filter, it’s easier to look at things, compare multiple fields, and essentially employ a logic layer so that all the different variables are automatically handled in Quickbase.
The Master Coaching App is good example of custom work we’ve done that has helped alleviate another big pain point. It’s an invoicing tool that involves a mini portal where master coaches enter expense related information, such as the training they’ve provided at different schools. By bringing in associations with various grants and programs and applying custom business rules, we make it easy to determine how to proportionally allocate charges from various expenses against different grants. Now instead of the finance team having to go through stacks of Excel spreadsheets and calculate out the percentages of each line item by grant, it’s all done automatically for them in Quickbase.
The portals and integrations we’re building are feeding data—that has been run through sophisticated business logic—into Quickbase to create a powerful, agile business brain.
Reading & Math 2.0: Three Core Apps Into One
A major project that Sympo and Reading & Math are currently working on together is consolidating the three original Quickbase apps into a single Reading & Math 2.0 platform. The goal is to provide a complete system that will facilitate a more seamless way to access and share information, making it easier for everyone—especially newly onboarded states—to utilize the system. It will also help drive Reading & Math’s mission forward by simplifying the platform’s ability to scale.
Cindy: Ryan and his team are directing this project backed by a deep understanding of their processes and needs. What we can bring to the table is a battle-hardened perspective on how things should be architected. One of the key initiatives is to enhance scalability. For instance, instead of having to rewire things and rebuild reports each year at the field level, the new structure will enable the team to scale faster and more efficiently simply by adding new records. We’re also collaborating on building a cleaner database architecture that will simplify integration work for more flexibility in the future.
How to Maximize the Value of a QSP
When asked how to make the most of a Quickbase Solution Provider’s services, we received the following advice from the Sympo team.
Phil: I think we’re at our most effective when our customers come to us with an understanding that Quickbase is like a piece of clay that can be molded in millions of ways to solve an equal number of pain points. Having an open mind in terms of how that can happen—not only within the Quickbase framework but also how it can be augmented outside of that—gives us virtually limitless capacity to quickly create the perfect solution.
Michael: Another thing that is very helpful, and something that the Reading & Math team has become really great at doing, is documenting requirements. All those mental exercises closely following their data through its lifespan, and turning that into requirements for a QSP, makes a huge difference in the quality and the speed of what we build.
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