At the recent Intuit QuickBase #EMPOWER2015 conference, one session included a few small but mighty IT outfits discussing how they drive innovation through low-code app development.
In Chicago this year, Intuit QuickBase marketing director, Karen Devine moderated a lively panel of SMB representatives , including Sarah Clark, director of finance and operations at Gateways Access to Jewish Education; Cyril Cohen, president at Cyril’s Bakery; Andrew Cole, HR manager at Revolution Brewing; Coco Curiopolis, chief operating officer at Style Blueprint; and Chris Schwartz, logistics manager at McDonough.
Rethinking Key Processes
Small businesses manage a lot of moving parts, but many forward-thinking owners and executives are leveraging technology to facilitate core operations. For instance, for Chris at logistics company McDonough, QuickBase transformed how products were tracked. “Before the new system, we typed everything into a spreadsheet, and it was difficult for our sales team to derive any meaningful information from it,” he says. “Now we are able to enter production details for each unit in real time.”
Cyril’s Bakery, which provides frozen baked goods to restaurants and grocery stores, has a complex distribution model, and the U.S. Food Service had mandated the company switch from disparate to centralized information storage. “We design and market the products, but we never touch them,” says owner Cyril. “Because we deal with multiple manufacturers, it has helped to automate the cycle from purchase order to delivery. We’re also much better able to secure deduction backup from distributors. It now happens in minutes instead of months.”
Andrew, whose company supplies alcoholic beverages to events, is developing a cloud-based management system that allocates resources such as equipment, products, and staff, fields donation requests, and assesses costs and return on investment. “We anticipate being able to tell, much more objectively, if a particular event is successful,” Andrew says. “We will also be able to make sure nothing slips through the cracks, such as a payroll manager forgetting an email that results in an employee not getting paid. Our previous system was unwieldy and mistakes were made.”
Every year, Sarah’s organization hires a new army of teenage volunteers. She was accustomed to a time-consuming process involving lots of paperwork and emails being passed back and forth. “Using QuickBase, we’ve automated everything,” she says. “It appeals to the teens because it’s technically-based – boosting our brand and reputation. Potential volunteers think we are cool people to work for.”
At online magazine Style Blueprint, Coco was losing advertisers because they felt ignored. “We need to take care of our advertisers by ensuring that they are included in editorial content, but it has been hard to keep track of activity,” she says. “We’re now using QuickBase to get our sales and editorial teams talking to each other and to deliberately incorporate ad clients into stories each month.”
Small and medium-sized businesses are moving more operations into the cloud, and system integration is essential. Cyril claims that by the end of this year, the bakery will be 100 percent cloud-based, integrating QuickBase with Bill.com for accounting and DocuSign for digital signatures.
Sarah uses software program DonorPerfect and QuickBooks with QuickBase, and Coco currently integrates Zap with QuickBase and plans to incorporate Bill.com, DocuSign, and QuickBooks online in the coming year.
At Revolution Brewing, reports are automated in QuickBase and imported into the ADP payroll system. Andrew is also adding recruiting and other HR functions to his QuickBase arsenal. “We just keep integrating more and more, because QuickBase really is the perfect platform for low-code employees,” he says. “Ownership at the app level can be anyone in the company. All it takes is an individual with a drive to make a process better.”
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