Is Custom Software the Best Investment for Your Company?
If you haven’t thought about what custom software for your company would do, even if you’re not a tech company — especially if you’re not a tech company — then now is the time. Here are six reasons to invest in an app for your business. Which of these resonated the most with you?
Full Transcript Below:
We can take that and allow them to replace pen and paper with an iPad.
If you’re deciding “Should I invest in basically building custom, or finding something off the shelf?”
You can enforce certain standards and quality and time and all sorts of factors that are difficult to enforce just on pen and paper.
You have a process, it’s standardized, it’s fairly manual, but you want to be able to start to digitize that in a way you can do so much more.
All right, Andrew, we get to do something fun today, which is talk about businesses and their processes. Everyone obviously has a way of doing things, but sometimes I think there’re processes that are so specific, or maybe elaborate that it requires you either custom building or finding something off the shelf that would fall into what I would call a business process app or application. So I want to unpack what we think are the top six things that you need to take into consideration if you’re deciding “Should I invest in basically building custom, or finding something off the shelf?”
Number one I think has to do with things that have a standard process to them. If you’re finding yourself, always doing the same thing over and over, always telling the same person to do the same thing over and over, and there’s a process you can standardize and outline… That for me, I think is point number one that really helps solidify that. Any thoughts on that?
Yeah. When you’ve got a process where you’ve got people colloguing different things together in order to this football all the way across the field… almost said across the finish line… then a business process app can be really great for streamlining that and standardizing things. Because if you’ve got to use a piece of software or mobile app, it does require that you can enforce certain standards of quality and time and all sorts of factors that are difficult to enforce just on pen and paper.
Sounds good. What about number two?
Number two would be… I kind of touched on it a little bit… You’re dealing with a lot of pen and paper forms. So maybe you’ve got checklist, inspectors going on site, filling out things on pen and paper. They take all that information. Maybe they take a picture with their phone and email someone. Maybe they type it all out in an email afterwards. But there’s a lot of pen and paper. A lot of manual data collection.
If that’s well defined, we can take that and allow them to replace pen and paper with an iPad. So the iPad can allow them to fill out forms, can snap photos, different things like that. So you can really unify things electronically using, in many cases, a mobile app or an iPad app is really useful for this.
My guess is that’s going to obviously help not only with speed, because generally people can type faster than they can write. You’re also going to be taking away from that pen and paper process. You’re actually digitizing it now. I don’t know how often I’ve pulled out a pair of jeans and you pull out that $5 bill that you forgot about or the old crusty receipt. Paper just gets lost so easily. So having that I think is very helpful. And so again, you have a process it’s standardized, it’s fairly manual, but you want to be able to start to digitize that in a way you can do so much more.
It allows you to put in a database too.
Exactly. Actually that’s one thing too… When you’re dealing with these pen and paper forms or whatever your processes are, they can be very detailed. I would say number three.. You probably don’t need a business process app if your business process sales cycle or whatever this thing is that you’re working with is four steps. You probably don’t need an app for that. You can remember four steps. But if you have a lot of detail, as you mentioned, you’re snapping photos, you’re attaching files to it, it always happens in this way in this order, these five people have to interact with this thing-
You want to make sure that this particular person did all the steps.
Exactly. There’s a lot that plays into that. So if you have a lot of attention to detail that you obviously want to make sure you are not missing out on, I think that’s a great step number three for “Should I have a process app?”
I think I touched on it a little bit, but what about four?
If you have reports that you need to build off of this inspection information, or whatever the process is. If you need to take this information and you need to standardize it into a report.. Because you’re storing in a database, we can say, this is the client information…We can make the information very standard, very readable, very easy to digest and deliver to people.
Building reports can be really time-consuming. As long as you’re collecting the data in a fairly standard way, a fairly normalized way, then we can automate in many cases, the creation of these reports or even build them off of templates. So maybe they’re not %100 automated, but it puts everything in the right order for you where now, with a little manual manipulation, you can really dial it in.
So if you’re custom building this or you find something off the shelf, it might have a template of these recording processes. And so now, you can find something that tailor fits to what you’re doing right now. But also you can even expand upon it. Maybe there’s something within that report that you didn’t even think to look for. But now, because it’s digitized and it’s captured, you’re finding all this information, you can template and expand and create new reports, which is very important. So number four, delivering reports to your clients, I think is very important.
Multiple People or Teams Involved
I wanted to circle back on one that I was thinking through is multiple people being involved, but also multiple departments might even be involved. So not only are you dealing with just individuals, but entire departments now could be getting access to these reports. Or you have clients, you have stakeholders, you have the sales department, so on and so forth. All these things that I think allow you to take business processes that were probably on a smaller scale, when you’re running a business process app, you can filter that app and take larger departments in.
An example of that is we were doing one with inspections. There’s someone in the office who will define who the client is, what properties the client has, what inspections need to happen in each property, what inspector needs to do these inspections. The inspector goes out in the field, they actually complete the inspections. That data gets sent back via the cloud to the office. Someone over there takes a report, which we’ve generated much of the data for based off a template. They go in there and add all the sales information in. So it really is streamlining all of that back and forth. And like you said, there’s different people with different responsibilities and this is really conducive to that.
So standard processes, we’re dealing with taking pen and paper, lots of detail, lots of departments involved. Ultimately you’re getting a lot of reporting out of this stuff.
What about point number six to bring it all home? What’s the last thing, number six, that we think is a good candidate to say “Yeah, I need a business process app”?
Leverage Your Data
If you have this feeling like the data I gathered, I could do so much more with it. If it was just stored in a database, if I could run reports off of it, if I could mine that data, if I could have lots of historical data. If my data’s all captured in pen and paper, it would be very difficult for me, impossible really, to say “I want to run a report on all the clients that fit this particular condition, or in all the jobs that had a time delay or were not according to budget”. Things like that. By storing all that data, it’s very, mineable. You can do analytics off of it. You can go back and look at historical data and learn new insights, even long after those things have happened. It’s super useful.
And you don’t have to have a million file cabinets, which is the worst.
I think seeing the rise of these business process apps almost feels a lot like back when it used to just be the server farm in your closet, and you started to expand as a company, and you had to go find the bigger server closet in the bigger place. And suddenly we started to go into a lot more cloud computing. I’m seeing business process apps go the same way, where companies are going to be able to utilize so much more information than they used to be able to leverage and access simply because of physical storage space. When you’re putting reports up in the cloud, when you’re having this across multiple departments and multiple locations, data just goes places faster and overall is just stored in a smarter manner.
I think it’s exciting. I’m looking forward to obviously taking more projects where we get to custom build these business process apps. Any thoughts, any closing things on that we might not have touched on?
I think one more good indicator that you’re in need of a process app is… Well, A, you’ve got a process, but B, that lots of people have kind of collogued together a way of making this happen. So maybe they’re using a cell for this, they’re printing to a PDF here, they’re emailing it, they’re then moving that to Google drive… There’s just a lot of… You’ve made your process work, and maybe it’s even gone beyond pen and paper to electronic, but there’s not really a unified solution. It’s very like manual relies on people taking lots of steps if somebody miss a step, it falls.
I look for companies who collogued together their own solution that does work, but is far from streamlined. But they’ve taken the time to really identify that these are the steps in our process. Those are really great as opposed to someone who doesn’t even have a feel for what their process is at all. So we’re helping people streamline processes, not necessarily come up with the process.
At the end of the day, we want to take what you’ve already done… We want to basically build upon that and make it far less error prone, far more predictable, and that much more extensible.
Thank you for joining us for this episode of Bixly Tech Tuesday. I hope you enjoyed that conversation between Andrew and Cris, as they talked all about business process apps. If you said yes to one or more of the items that they brought up today, you should really consider investing in custom software for your business. If you have any questions about what they talked about, go ahead and leave them in the comment section and we will get right back to you.
Also, don’t forget to check out our description box down below. We have a ton of really helpful links in there, including a link to our custom software guide. And that’ll give you a little bit of insight into what that process might look like. You can also check us out on bixly.com. Right at the top, there’s a button that says “start my roadmap”. That gives you a free 60-minute call with Chris to talk about your next project idea. Until next time, this has been an episode of Bixly Tech Tuesday.
Originally published at https://blog.bixly.com on May 3, 2022.