Read what Chris Conde, Director of IT at Quick Base, has to say about why we’re “drinking our own champagne”.
I equate the Quick Base platform to a multifunction Swiss Army knife in that it enables us to deliver the customized tools our internal users ask for to help them do their jobs better and more efficiently. We can also deliver them much faster than coding an app the traditional way, and it’s more flexible and cost-effective than trying to find, buy, and retrofit a point solution.
One of the IT divisions I worked for previously had in-house developers creating apps in .NET and other coding languages. Knowing what I know now, I feel that a lot of what they created could have been done in Quick Base more easily and at a much lower cost.
Our internal app development shop
To help keep our business on the top of its game, we’ve dedicated members of our IT team to creating Quick Base apps. We have three BAs [Business Analysts], dedicated to our three biggest departments: Sales, Marketing, and Customer Success. They’re responsible for designing the new applications or processes, and then handing that information over to our two builders who create the apps using the Quick Base platform.
Everything is coordinated through our Quick Base project management tool. The advantages of building this tool in Quick Base is that it’s tailored precisely to our project management process. That’s a big plus. If we had bought it off the shelf we’d be stuck with their terminology, their workflow, and the cost to procure it.
CRM [Customer Relationship Management]—Most of our effort is focused on building out, and in some cases centrally managing, the bigger and more complex cross-functional apps, like our CRM system. We are constantly working to update and refine it. One of the bigger initiatives underway is a series of development projects related to the Total Addressable Market and the revenue opportunities it will help us uncover.
When we talk about people closest to the work creating the most helpful solutions, the development of our CRM system provides a good example. Our CRM BA works closely with the Sales Department and collaborates with sales managers and reps to create the kind of solutions that will help drive better customer experiences and more business. She also has previous sales ops experience, so she knows what types of features should be in the system and how to help evolve it.
P2P [Purchase to Pay]—Our Quick Base development team has also created a procurement app that helps the business quickly process purchase orders. Users fill out the form, attach key documents, and click to submit. The app then kicks off alerts and notifications that move the approval process through the right channels—from the manager of the cost center to Legal, if a contract is involved, and on to Finance to cut the check.
OKR [Objectives & Key Results] and onboarding/offboarding—the OKR app was created by HR and our Quick Base development team to give managers and HR staff an effective and time-saving way to track and measure performance against goals.
An IT onboarding/offboarding tool with an HR workspace was also recently created to standardize and streamline these processes—including automated notifications to facilities to set up cubicles and to us in IT to get the machines ready. There are a lot of steps for onboarding and offboarding employees and this helps us ensure that nothing falls through the cracks and that everything is completed in a timely manner.
Other helpful apps—The previous examples are some of the bigger apps we support, but we also use Quick Base for smaller projects. I find myself thinking a lot in Quick Base terms these days; if something pops up I’m like, “Okay let’s make a quick little app”. Just recently we spun up a survey and sent it out to employees to provide feedback on our IT support services. It was easy to create; we didn’t have to go out and pay a survey company; and all of that information stays with us.
A culture of innovation
Of course, people outside of IT are creating and maintaining their own Quick Base apps all the time to help themselves or their teams. We have a tradition of empowerment and a culture of innovation here, and Quick Base is the catalyst. That said, if they need us, we’re here. They can put in an app request or just come down and talk to one of our BAs. We can spin up a new tool for them or help add functionality to an existing app, like integrations or a more complex feature.
The other thing that keeps things operating smoothly is that our Quick Base platform is centralized and our project management processes are standardized. So, for example, if someone wants to create an app for marketing that may impact some part of the CRM system, we can address it with stakeholders and avoid potential problems before it’s even built.
A shared experience, a better product
If you’re selling a product, I think it’s good practice to be using it internally as much as possible. That way, you’re just as immersed in the experience as your customers are—you recognize what works well, what could be improved, and what new features might be of value.
Recently our development team participated in the beta tests for our new Quick Base Certification Program. They took those early exams with our customers, and their input was included in the feedback that helped improve the tests and the experience prior to the official release. I’m happy to report that they’ve all earned their Quick Base certifications.
One of my goals is to get our Quick Base development team more involved in the product development cycle. So, when something new is created, maybe we could be the next step after the Quality & Assurance Group does its testing. Perhaps we could act as a sounding board for potential new features and functionality, providing input from a customer’s perspective because we really are customers—we just happen to work for the same company.
Progress and savings for all
With Quick Base in our corner I feel we can solve problems faster, and as a result, help our departments become a lot more efficient and productive. And if we can create a faster, better environment here at Quick Base, then our external customers are likely to experience that too.
We’re also saving money. Instead of buying expensive solutions with features we may not ever use, we can create and quickly update our own solutions and always have a perfect fit. That leads me to another initiative on my roadmap—to roll existing point solutions into Quick Base. In one instance alone, I expect it to save us about $12,000 a year.
All these advantages that we’re touting to our customers are the same ones we’re benefitting from for ourselves.
To access a recording of our recent webinar: “Gaining Control Over Shadow IT” featuring Forrester Research’s John Rymer, click here.
Posted in Business & IT Alignment, Citizen Development, Democratization of IT, Rapid Application Development | Tagged app development, business-IT, digital business, enterprise IT, IT, quickbase