The “Invisible” ROI of Ad Hoc Apps

Most QuickBase customers come to us looking for solutions. They usually need to solve some very specific problems. In most cases QuickBase is an excellent choice and they can start to calculate the return on their investment in short order.

The applications they build are often big, thoughtfully designed, and reasonably complex. These apps typically replace some purchased solution, or an ad hoc system based on spreadsheets. Either way, their QuickBase is the new asset on the block and it’s here to stay.

Let’s talk about ROI. At a high-level, ROI measures how much you save with this thing vs. that thing. You can save time, money, resources, and effort. You can make fewer phone calls, send fewer emails, do less manual work, etc. It all translates into saved dollars, greenbacks, benjamins and sometimes duckets.

Side Note: Are you tracking the ROI of your QuickBase solutions yet? If not, you should be. But that’s another blog post.

So! Where do ad hoc apps come in? Ad hoc apps can save you a lot of time and money. Think of all the ways you use (and abuse) spreadsheets. Think of all the lists you manage and maintain. Think of all the times where you need a bunch of people to answer a question, send you something, perform a task, be reminded, receive updates, etc. There are probably many. You can use QuickBase as an “instant solution” factory, making this kind of work much more productive. Here’s an example of an ad hoc app I created recently. Maybe it’ll trigger some ideas in you about the kinds of ad hoc apps you and your teammates can create with QuickBase.


The QuickBase Sales Engineering team recently needed to reach out and contact all the accounts we manage who have integrated their LDAP directories with their QuickBase Enterprise Realms. We needed them to add our secondary datacenter IP address to their firewall rules and then let us know when it was completed so we could do some testing. Email, Call, Connect, Talk, Follow-up, etc. I had ten such accounts to contact.

Standard solution:

I had the list of accounts to contact in a spreadsheet. I could craft an email and start working the list, generating new emails for each person (editing their name and company information each time) and send them out manually. Then I could follow up with a call to each. Then I would have to manage all the folks I didn’t reach the first time and call them back. Rinse and repeat.


Ad Hoc App Solution:

I could use QuickBase to save me time and my company money. I imported that spreadsheet to QuickBase and created a new application from scratch. That took about 60 seconds. Each record was a customer I had to contact. I made sure I imported their email address into a user field so I could control their access to the data via a role. I configured the role to only allow customers to view records where they were the user associated with the record. I copied the text from the email I drafted and added it to the dashboard of the app, welcoming the audience with background and instructions. I left one report on the dashboard that would show only the record that each user was allowed to see and edit. I also pasted the text from my email into a text element on the form, giving the user a reminder of what I needed them to do. Next I setup some report subscriptions that would remind customers they still had a task to complete for me, and notifications to let me know when a customer had updated their record.  Finally I used that same text from the email, the dashboard, and the form and pasted it into the invitations I sent to my customers.

What was my ROI?

Well, of the ten accounts I needed to contact – I only had to actually call one. All of my customers received the invites and reminders. They all took the necessary action AND they let me know when they were done. I was able to focus on other work. I estimate that I saved myself and Intuit approximately eight hours of my time. If your time is like my time, then you know it’s not cheap.

So… what kinds of ad hoc apps have you used? Can you share them with us in the comments? If you’ve never used one, can you think of a process where one might come in handy? We want to know how you could use ad hoc QuickBases to solve problems and save money.

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Posted in QuickBase Platform, RAD Ideas