Full Guide To Build Internal Tools With No-Code
What is no-code? Why no-code tools are important? You’re gonna find more questions answers and a case study about build internal tools with no-code.
Businesses of the 21st century are evolving into efficient machines. It is now a requirement that business processes are as streamlined as possible so that human resources are being used on only the most important tasks. In this economic environment of hyper-competition, you can’t afford to operate any other way.
If a business is still operating using paper trails and inefficient back and forth between employees and clients, they are likely on the back foot heading into a digital-first world.
Formstack’s “State of Workflow Automation” report indicates that high-level managers are spending on average 8 hours a week on unstructured data tasks.
The move from in-office to remote work has accelerated this change even further. It is now impossible for reams of files and papers to be shifted around an office from desk to desk. Desks are sometimes hundreds of miles apart from each other.
97% of Camunda’s survey respondents agree that process automation is an imperative part of their company’s ability to stay relevant. When your company is no longer relevant, it is a slippery slope to eventual failure.
Workflow Automation: Do You Need It?
Workflow automation is the transformation of tasks that would be manually completed by an employee (or multiple employees) to an automated process that is powered by smart software which requires minimal input, and much less time-resource investment.
So, does your business need it? The answer is almost always yes.
This will be especially true if your business has been around for 5+ years and is largely reliant on legacy systems like printers, copiers, files, and even a large amount of back-and-forth email and communication.
A good thought process to follow to find out if you have any processes is in your business that could be made more efficient is this:
Think about how information moves around your company.
- How does it come in from clients?
- How does it go out to clients?
- How is it passed around internally?
If there are humans at every node of these transactions, your business is a prime candidate for some sort of process automation.
But where do you even begin when automating a business process?
Business Software Development for Internal Tools: A Growing Trend
The importance of technology in replacing these processes is becoming extremely evident in the current demand for software developers.
The US Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that the demand growth for Software Developer roles is in the region of 22%. This is compared with normal job demand growth of 4%.
Indeed.com says one of the top reasons for this high demand for software engineers comes down to the “need for innovative software”. As companies are pressured to bolster their bottom lines in a fiercely competitive environment, they’re looking to process automation to make their businesses as efficient as possible.
One thing to note from this is where there is a high demand for something, it generally means there is an associated increase in price.
Indeed lists the average annual salary of a software developer at around $108 848 USD. Most job sites agree with this and list figures all around the $100k mark. That is a significant expense for a single employee – especially for smaller companies.
Operating a Software Development Team
If you’re considering automating some of your business processes, you may be considering the possibility of hiring your own software team or developer or using existing IT resources in your business.
Here are some important points to consider.
⇒ IT Ops Teams aren’t Developers
If your business has got an IT department, it’s important to note that a lot of the time, these are not your typical software developers. They may have some operational skills, but their cost-efficiency is normally a result of a different skill level.
IT Teams are normally responsible for infrastructure maintenance and upkeep, not the development of new systems.
Speaking of the development of new systems…
⇒ It Takes A-Team
It may be tempting to think that one or two developers working alongside each other will be enough to meet the needs of your business’s software requirements.
In theory, you’d be correct. But in the real world, developers don’t operate in isolation. They are generally part of a team, which might include:
- A project manager,
- A product manager,
At a minimum, one of these roles is going to be required alongside a development team. In general, this is a Product Manager, whose role is to convert business requirements into software outcomes for a developer to work towards.
Unfortunately, very few software developers have the skill (nor the want) to interact with businesspeople and are very seldom able to efficiently convert business goals into the right product.
It is unlikely that many small businesses will have the know-how or resources to hire a full development team.
But there are other options.
Outsourcing to External Development Firms
Fortunately, there are software development firms that specialize in exactly this.
Their value proposition is almost always directly related to converting business goals into efficient pieces of software, without you needing the hassle of managing your own development team.
This is a great solution, but does not come without its caveats, some of which are…
- Very high upfront cost. These agencies are hiring developers (which are expensive), and then they’re adding margin onto their salaries so they can make money. They also have to pay for the overheads of administration staff.
- Scope creep. Because of the nature of the business relationship, it is in the interests of the firm to make the outcome as large as possible. For that reason, it is very unusual to see a project term of fewer than 3 months. For a team of 3 developers, plus a project manager, that is at minimum a $50k cost straight away.
- Ongoing maintenance. Very much aligned with the above point, it is in the interests of software development firms to deploy an initial product, and then charge ongoing maintenance fees for these products. Almost all design firms have a “Product Advance” sector where they have a team of developers and maintenance engineers who will be in charge of constant maintenance and upgrades of your product, with very little productive work being done.
Building No-Code Business Automations
So, you’re a business owner that is looking to automate certain flows throughout your company. You don’t want to pay exorbitant fees for a software firm to do the build for you, nor do you have the resources or know-how to hire an internal development team.
What options do you have?
This is the exact use case where no-code tools are the right option.
⇒ What is No-Code?
It’s software development, without code.
You heard me right. No-code tools are specifically designed so that almost anyone can build software and internal tools for their businesses that can be used by employees. They don’t require any formal software training because the interface through which you create software is a drag-and-drop builder, that makes sense to anyone.
No-code tools are designed to lower the barrier to entry for businesses and individuals when it comes to software development. Instead of having to learn different languages, tech-stacks, and infrastructures, no-code tools allow a user to intuitively build a process that people can use and interact with.
⇒ Why No-Code Tools?
The benefits of no-code tools are substantial. Here’s why no-code tools are more than likely the best solution for your automation needs.
The information and process flow in your business is probably not a new problem. They might be specific to your business, but the frameworks (like information flows, or communication flows) are very similar on a case-by-case basis. That means someone has solved them before or at least built a system for solving them.
With that in mind, it doesn’t make sense for every business that needs an internal tool created to build it itself. They should rather repurpose the learnings of other people’s systems for their specific situation.
That is what no-code tools allow. They have learned the specific frameworks, components, and modules that software engineers build, and made them easily deployable and connectable to form a working solution.
Other benefits of no-code tools include:
- Saving time. Speed of development is much faster. You will have a product to use, test and deploy in a time frame that is 10X better than the traditional process.
- Saving money. Because of the reduced development time, money gets saved throughout the whole process.
- Improved customer experience. Because no-code tools lower the barrier to entry for custom software solutions, your business is more likely and able to deploy a customer-facing product that makes their experience of interacting with your business much more efficient.
- Improved employee experience. Human beings don’t like doing repeated, mundane tasks that are mind-numbing. And these are the exact tasks that a computer can take off their hands. This leads to happier employees. It also means employee time can be spent on value-add activities that will grow your business, not just operate it.
In summary: Custom-built no-code internal tools are a great way to grow your business.
A No-Code Solution: What is Possible?
Almost anything. If you’ve ever heard of the 80/20 rule, it is certainly applicable here. 80% to 90% of the functionality of a custom-developed solution can be built without a line of code. It is the last 10% of very niche features that are only applicable to very specific use cases.
And the beauty of it is if you get to a point where you run out of functionality, integrating a no-code solution with the last-mile custom software work is easy.
With no-code tools like SimianBot, you can build and deploy custom:
- Web applications.
- Web services (backend operations).
- Integrations (connecting various services).
- Android apps.
- iOS apps.
This opens up a host of possibilities.
Do you need a customer service portal to interact with clients better? Easy peasy.
Do you want to solicit feedback from clients on a specific topic? Done in less than an hour.
These solutions are easily repeatable, reusable, and take almost no time at all to deploy and test. The iteration time from idea to the solution is unbeatable. That is the power of a product like SimianBot.
The features you can build into these types of solutions are wide-ranging. The best part is they can be joined together using a user-friendly drag-and-drop interface.
Some features available through SimianBot include:
- QR and BarCode readers.
- Email and messaging.
- Camera use.
- Maps and GPS geolocation.
- Data storage, and more.
With this range of modules available, the functionality you could build is wide-ranging. Below is just one case study on an example solution built for an insurance broker.
A Case Study: Insurance Broker
An insurance broker – Larry’s Insurance – was founded by Larry in the late ‘90s. A team of 15 employees, the team is made up of mostly insurance administrators and underwriters whose job it is to liaise with clients about their coverage and claims.
A repeatable process in Larry’s Insurance company comes around every year when each client has to do their renewal. The process involves making sure that every client is aware of what they are and aren’t covered for.
The start of the renewal process involves the client filling out a questionnaire about their assets and operating behavior. This previously happened through a word document that most clients would print out and fill and then scan back in and return.
The administrators then had to take those answers, and update the policies of the various clients accordingly. Once updated, they produced an updated policy and cover document which got sent back to the client.
Using no-code tools, this process was fully automated and now looks something like this:
- On a much more frequent basis (monthly) Larry’s Insurance clients are emailed with a link to review their policy.
- When they land on the link, they view their policy outlined in an easy-to-read format with different sections and different covers explained clearly.
- They have the option to one-click accept, or they are able to adjust the values of their assets and/or operational behaviors.
- When a change is made, or the renewal accepted, the administrator gets an automatic notification via email to notify them of the changes.
- If there is a change required in their policy, the administrator approves the change. The policy document is automatically updated and sent to the client. Their premium is automatically adjusted according to the changes made. If necessary, the administrator and underwriters are able to manually adjust the premium too.
As a result of these simple automation processes, overall client happiness improved, and processing times for renewals were reduced from 6 hours of work per client, every month to a maximum of 30 minutes.
Best of all, the solution was built and deployed in less than a week by a non-technical consultant and the total cost to the company for the contract was a SimianBot Enterprise License.
Based on a monthly salary for an administrator equating to $8/hour, it would take only 525 hours (or 65 working days) of saved time to repay the investment. For a company like Larry’s Insurance with multiple administrators and more than 50 clients, there was a positive return on this investment in less than 4 months!
No-code solutions are the future of custom internal software development. In 95% of the cases where software is required, no-code tools can do the job faster and cheaper than the alternative.