The future of business Apps is upon us and business owners and department heads across the country are jumping for joy. Finance teams can finally liberate the data stuck in their old and rigid spreadsheets and operations teams are no longer held hostage by their inflexible and out of date software. Low Code Development Platforms are democratizing business software by making affordable and highly customized applications available to every line of business.
What is a Low-Code Application Platform? Low-Code Platforms are analogous to prefabricated homes. With prefabricated homes, the main components are built in advance and sent to the homesite. The general contractor simply puts the pieces together, resulting in a cost to build that is a fraction of fully custom homes.
Low-code applications are similar, in that, the low-code platform providers, such as Salesforce, Amazon AWS, Zoho Creator, pre-build the databases and user interface. Then, companies like TechOps put the pieces together and customize the application for individual clients. These platforms are truly changing the complexion of web-based and mobile apps. Now, lines of business can create very affordable and customized tools for their entire company or department.
In this blog, I’ll use practical terms to discuss how business owners can leverage low-code applications to improve data organization and collaboration.
A finance Department
A typical finance team manages most accounting functions from an accounting system. However, as most finance people know, finance teams rely on a host of spreadsheet managing data the cannot reside in the accounting system. Over time, these spreadsheets become a cobbled mess of siloed data that’s difficult to manage. What's more, spreadsheets are notoriously difficult to collaborate across multiple employees.
Just a few years ago, a CFO didn’t have many cost-effective options for managing the data residing outside of the accounting system. Custom databases would cost tens of thousands of dollars to develop, and even more to manage.
Low-code platforms emerged over the last three years. They’ve changed the face of application development by simplifying and democratizing the ability to create low-cost, actionable databases from spreadsheets.
Convert Your Spreadsheets Into Actionable Low-Code Applications
Here are four benefits of converting your spreadsheets into low-code applications:
Cost and Speed of Development
A traditional database built from scratch would cost upwards of $20,000. For many business leaders, this isn’t an affordable solution. Low-code platforms are pre-built, so only customization is required. The cost to customize a low-code platform is a fraction of the cost to develop a fully customized application. Development can be completed in as little as one week.
Employee Experience and Accessibility
Unlike a spreadsheet, a low-code database is a web application like many SaaS tools you're using today. Your data is no longer siloed in spreadsheets that have to be emailed back and forth. Instead, low-code platforms are web-based, allowing any user to access data from any mobile or desktop web browser. What's more, the owner of the database controls permissions for who can access what information.
Additionally, dashboards and custom reports can be created with a low-code platform. With dashboards based on the same underlying data that show different users different reports, low-code platforms improve the employee’s experience.
Low-code applications are remarkably smart! You can use them to better manage how your information is actioned by creating workflows from your data. Low-code platforms also have open APIs so that you can move data back and forth between other applications. Workflow tools include text and email notifications, custom formulas that trigger exception reporting, and task management functionality across multiple employees.
Portal and Mobile Access
Many businesses have data that must be shared with clients or partners. Low-code applications are the perfect solution for this task. With API and permission management, business owners can pull data from one application into a low-code platform, then share that data through a custom web portal with a client or partner.
Low-Code Applications At A Glance
A price quote application for a commercial landscaper to manage bids
This application housed hundreds of species of plants and allowed the pricing team to quickly query a species, add a quantity and price, and email the finished proposal directly to the client. The application cut the proposal time down from nearly four hours to just 45 minutes.
A fund management application for a finance company to manage limited partners and deal flow
This application replaced a large and complex spreadsheet managing the fund, limited partners, percentage of ownership, and quarterly invoicing. The goal of this application was to make the data accessible to all general partners and provide the limited partners with a web portal to view their information.
A customer relationship database for a merchant services company to manage merchant applications and credit card processor submissions
This application is a workflow optimization tool designed to automate the process of collecting merchant information and submitting that information to credit card processors. It integrates a webform with PDF, which saves hours of data entry.
A workflow and task management application for a real estate company
The application optimized workflows over the course of a property lease. Pre-set and time-based tasks were triggered during the lease term to remind employees to complete certain tasks. The workflow notified employees when a task was assigned to them via mobile app and SMS. Tasks were designed in sequence; when an employee completed one task, the application triggered the next task.