What do popular applications like Google Docs, Salesforce CRM, and Netflix have in common?
They’re all web apps.
Just like traditional websites, web apps (or web applications) rely on a web browser to display information. Like traditional websites, web apps can be accessed from any browser on any device – laptop, desktop, mobile phone, or tablet.
The difference between web apps, traditional websites, and mobile apps
Still, there are fundamental differences between web apps and regular sites:
- Whereas traditional web sites are generally designed for information sharing, web apps tend to be more interactive, enabling users to initiate workflows, submit forms, share data with other systems and engage with the app in other ways.
- Web apps automatically adapt to fit the device they’re being accessed on. For example, when a user navigates to a web page on their smartphone, that page will automatically adjust to fit their phone’s screen and provide a good user experience.
- Although web apps can have multiple pages, most do not have as many pages as a traditional website or a mobile application. This makes them easier to build and manage and more cost-effective to maintain.
Web apps also have significant benefits over mobile apps, which need to be customized for iOS or Android OS. For instance, there’s no need to develop a web app for a specific app store or mobile operating system, as they can be accessed from any web browser. That means they require fewer resources to build, and are easier and less expensive to build.
The power of web apps
Web apps typically serve a specific function or purpose, but don’t let that focus fool you. Despite their perceived simplicity, web apps are highly customizable and can be extraordinarily powerful tools for collecting and managing information and interacting with customers.
Web apps’ winning combination of power and cost-effectiveness makes them a tool that every startup should consider. But which web apps should you prioritize building? Here’s a list of four essential web apps you and your team should consider creating:
1. Lead inquiry forms (or lead generation forms)
Lead inquiry forms are designed to gather critical information about a customer or prospect. They typically include basic information like name, company, contact information, as well as demographic information and such. Some might include fields asking the prospect to provide additional information or feedback.
2. Customer relationship management (CRM) tools
As mentioned above, Salesforce CRM is one of the most popular and powerful off-the-shelf customer relationship management tools around–and it’s a web app. It shows how a robust web app can be used to collect and share customer information, emails, inquiries, and more. However, often out of the box solutions don’t meet your exact needs and aren’t easy to customize. With no-code tools, you can build a custom CRM to match your specific requirements.
3. Invoicing and billing apps
Web apps don’t need to be exclusively customer-facing. Your internal teams can also use web apps for their multi-stage workflow processes that span multiple departments. For example, a customer can approve a quote that then goes to the sales team to review and process then forward to the finance team for invoicing through a web app. You can also develop web apps that customers can use to pay bills via the device of their choice using no-code solutions.
4. IT and customer support forms
Instead of having employees call the IT help desk or send the IT administrator an email, employees can sign into a web app on their device, fill out a simple form, and have their help request automatically routed and assigned to a support team member. The support team will have full visibility to all open requests and can monitor statuses and assign escalations to the Quality Assurance team or Tier 2 Support team for more complex issues. Likewise, customers shouldn’t have to call an 800 number or write an email to customer care; they can submit an inquiry via a web app which is more efficient.
Creating your own web apps using no-code development
Web apps are easier to build than you might think. In fact, just about anyone can create a web app using no-code application development practices.
No-code development democratizes application development by enabling those with minimal or even no programming experience to create their own applications. With no-code, users can build user-friendly interfaces and backend workflows and can configure business rules for their applications. They simply drag and drop objects onto a design canvas. They don’t need to understand or manipulate the underlying source code. All of that is updated automatically based on where the user places their objects. It is also an option to integrate with other popular applications and third party systems.
Democratizing development through no-code allows web apps to be developed faster and more easily. Software developers can build web apps more quickly by using the drag and drop method, freeing them up to focus on building more labor-intensive and complex applications. And by negating the need for deep coding experience, you can invite others in your company to develop web apps, too.
Embodying the startup mentality
Startups are known for their fervent attention to customers and prospects and an “all hands on deck” approach where everyone is involved in building their companies’ offerings. Web apps and no-code development match up well with both of these ideals. You can use web apps to engage with your audiences and create compelling and rich online experiences, and you can use no-code to get everyone involved in that process.
The result will be fast and cost-efficient application development and the ability to reach your customers and prospects any time, anywhere, and on any device.
No-code application development tools enable non-technical employees in your lines of business (LoBs) to quickly and easily create forms, workflows and applications. By augmenting traditional development approaches, no-code app builders are empowering organizations to rapidly and cost-effectively achieve digital transformation.
In fact, “increased demand for … digital transformation has sparked the emergence of citizen developers outside of IT,” Gartner reports. Today, 41% of non-IT employees customize or build data or technology solutions, the analyst firm says.
But your citizen developers probably aren’t experienced in planning and executing application development projects. To benefit the most from no-code, follow these best-practice steps:
1. Understand business goals
Start by identifying the business benefit you want to achieve from no-code. That could be allowing internal or external customers to complete an online form. It might be streamlining a particular workflow within a team or department. Or it could be enabling a process that extends across multiple business functions. You can leverage no-code to optimize a broad range of processes, from creating new customer accounts, to handling budget requests and approvals, to integrating remote sites.
But to achieve success, you first need to be clear about your objectives. That includes establishing simple metrics, like number of workflow steps automated, speed of data inputs, or number of customers served.
2. Determine application requirements
Once you know your goals, you can identify the functionality the no-code application must provide. For instance, if you’re building a workflow, do all steps remain within a single team, or do they extend across multiple departments? If the project involves a broad process flow, you might need input from all stakeholders who will use it.
Similarly, if you’re creating an online form, should data inputs be automatically entered into corporate systems? If so, you’ll need the necessary integrations. An effective no-code tool will enable integration through APIs or web services, all without coding.
3. Select the right no-code solution
No-code app builders come in a lot of flavors. Some are complex platforms that provide “low-code” application development that requires coding knowledge. Others are only designed to create mobile apps for use on iOS or Android.
A no-code tool that’s useful for LoB employees should effectively enable web forms, web apps, mobile web apps, workflow apps, or business process management. Look for a no-code provider that can support all these use cases with either a single solution or a portfolio of targeted, easy-to-use tools.
4. Assign roles and responsibilities
No-code applications can be created by a single employee or a few employees, but if an application will be used day-to-day by an entire department, you need to be sure the citizen developers understand the requirements to deliver applications that meet the department’s needs and objectives.
In that case, consider getting multiple people involved in the application development process. Some stakeholders might have input into desired features. Others might create the actual application. Still others might try out the application and provide feedback before it’s deployed. Just be sure all participants understand how they contribute to the project’s success.
5. Manage the project
No-code tools are so easy to use, many users might approach application creation in an ad-hoc manner. But to get the results you want you’ll benefit from a more structured mindset.
Make a list of the features you identified in Step 2 and check them off as you build them into the application. Set interim milestones and final deadlines to keep the project on target. Monitor stakeholder involvement to be sure everyone’s doing their part. Your no-code project management doesn’t have to be complicated, but you need enough oversight to track your progress and keep the project moving forward.
6. Measure the results
An effective no-code app builder should give you visibility into the process you’ve created. This is where the metrics you created in Step 1 will show their value. If you’re achieving your performance goals, you know your deliberate approach to no-code development is paying off. If you’re falling short of targets, it’s time to identify ways to improve.
Go back over the application. Are form fields unclear, making it hard for users to complete the form? Are workflow outputs not giving you the data you need? Are the wrong people getting alerts for workflow reviews and approvals? If people aren’t using the application, is that because it doesn’t integrate well with other processes? Finding the root cause will point you to the solution.
7. Continually improve
The good news is that with a no-code tool, you can quickly and easily make improvements to your application. That’s valuable even if your application is performing at a high level today.
After all, business requirements evolve over time. Customers have changing demands. A new team might need to be incorporated into an existing workflow. You might replace a core system, requiring new application integrations. No-code gives you the capabilities to make these adjustments quickly and painlessly.
No-code/low-code (NCLC) will produce 70% of new applications by 2025, according to Gartner. The emergence of NCLC is nothing short of a “revolution,” Accenture says, one that will drive an “explosion of user-generated innovation.” By following these steps for planning and executing your no-code project, you can be sure your organization is benefiting from employee-driven, no-code-enabled innovation and digital transformation.
Workflows are how your employees get their jobs done. If your workflows are efficient and effective, then your employees are more productive and engaged, your customers enjoy better experiences, and your business operates to its full potential.
That’s why a growing number of organizations are turning to no-code application development to optimize their workflows. With a no-code workflow builder, non-technical employees in your lines of business (LoBs) have the capabilities they need to quickly and easily create efficient, digitized workflows that turbocharge your business.
Going With the No-code Workflow
Here are five workflows you can optimize with no-code in your company, based on real-world success stories:
1. Customer and employee surveys – Electronic surveys are a great way to understand employee needs or customer demands. A no-code tool can equip you to design professional, customizable surveys to benefit your workforce or drive leads that increase sales.
A form builder supports creation of sophisticated survey forms. The workflow tool itself enables you to quickly and consistently execute the survey, saving costs and improving response rates. You can make survey execution part of an extended workflow that avoids manual errors and misplaced survey responses. In fact, at least one professional-services firm uses no-code to create marketing surveys as a service to its Fortune 500 clients.
2. New customer account creation – Setting up new customer accounts can be time-consuming and cumbersome. A no-code tool can improve the experience for employees and customers alike.
No-code lets you design a new-account workflow that requires zero training. You can enforce a standardized process for consistency and completeness. A smart form autofills relevant fields to speed the process and reduce manual errors.
The digitized workflow can capture customer information at your main location or remotely in the field. You can complete forms without an internet link and then automatically upload results when a connection is available. You can then route customer data to authorized stakeholders for review and approval, and automatically integrate data with corporate systems.
3. Employee onboarding – New-hire onboarding should follow a standardized process, and the data it captures needs to be accurate. A no-code tool can help.
You can create a workflow to cover new-hire data gathering, document collection, forms processing, compliance and more. Employees can fill out electronic forms, with the results automatically integrated with your HR database. You can even include user authentication, identity verification and digital signatures.
Workflows can be consolidated with major HR systems, with audit trails to ensure confirmation and compliance. Indeed, no-code is so effective for onboarding that professional staffing firms use it to optimize their core business of placing employees with clients.
4. Budget requests and approvals – When LoBs submit budget requests, they can’t be delayed by manual, inconsistent processes. No-code can standardize and accelerate the approval workflow, eliminate budget-request bottlenecks that slow operations, and improve business compliance.
No-code can reduce the time to process budget requests, from origination to final approval. Team members can create and modify request forms, without the need for help from IT. Authentication protocols allow only authorized personnel to submit, approve or deny requests.
The workflow can route requests to stakeholders for approval and signature capture. It can also notify requesters of workflow status. You can integrate the workflow with your financial systems and accommodate manual interventions as necessary.
5. Remote-site process integration – Many organizations maintain satellite offices close to where they go to market. Often these sites manage their own manual processes. Digitizing those workflows can benefit the local offices and your entire enterprise.
No-code empowers you to create electronic workflows that extend across remote sites and scale to support thousands of users. Multi-site, cross-LoB workflows address a wide variety of scenarios, from resource requests to incident reports. You can customize workflows to reflect local practices or enforce standardized policies, and automatically centralize request and report data in corporate systems.
No-code even includes the capability to track and measure workflow performance to validate process improvements and compliance. Most importantly, it eliminates one-off manual processes in remote sites, reducing processing times, saving costs on administrative tasks, and making your entire business run smoother.
Driving Workflow Innovation
Those are just a few examples of how no-code can transform your workflows. Organizations across industries – including healthcare, insurance, energy, retail, financial services, public sector and education – are deploying no-code to achieve similar innovations. They’re using no-code workflows across departments, including HR, finance, sales, marketing, IT, operations and customer support. They’ve proven you can achieve advantages in any situation where you need to, including:
- Replacing static paper or PDF forms
- Accelerating operations
- Integrating processes
- Ensuring compliance
- Avoiding manual errors
- Reducing costs
- Serving customers better
Ultimately, workflows created with a no-code tool empower your organization to:
- Reduce time for workflow design and deployment
- Minimize dependence on technical resources
- Improve communication and compliance
- Gain better visibility into operations
- Realize substantial cost savings
- Equip employees to do their jobs more efficiently and serve customers more effectively
No-code workflow automation can accelerate your operations and give your organization a new competitive advantage. And with an effective no-code tool, you can achieve those goals faster and more cost-effectively than you thought possible.
Your IT department and the end users it supports can sometimes seem like they’re at odds. After all, your techies know digital – the latest devices and apps and best practices for getting the most out of them. Your business users, in contrast, don’t always have the same grasp of technology – though they certainly depend on it to do their jobs.
So what happens when you throw no-code application development into the mix?
A no-code app builder allows non-technical employees to create their own applications quickly and easily. They can build interfaces, forms and workflows simply by dragging and dropping reusable software elements onto a digital canvas. The tool then automatically assembles a functional, stable and secure application.
Make no mistake: No-code is the future of software creation. Two-thirds of application development will be achieved through no-code/low-code (NC/LC) tools by 2024, Gartner predicts. And 82% of companies say “citizen developers” are increasingly important to their business, TechRepublic reports. But are IT pros buying in?
Easing the Pressure on IT
You’d think IT departments might not like ceding some control of application creation. But the fact is, IT is embracing no-code in a big way. A whopping 92% of IT leaders are comfortable with business users taking advantage of non-code/low-code tools.
There are several reasons for this no-code enthusiasm. First and foremost is that no-code alleviates the demand for professional application developers. And expert developers are in short supply – to the point that the dearth of developers is slowing down business.
In fact, 86% of IT decision-makers say the biggest impediment to digital transformation is a lack of developers. This supply-demand gap is delaying digital transformation projects by an average 8.1 months. As a direct result, NC/LC is becoming a priority for 96% of IT decision makers.
Expert application development remains crucial to many businesses, of course. Yet traditional development processes require months of coding, reviews and testing before even the simplest software is ready for use. And while methodologies such as DevOps aim to accelerate processes, even DevOps-enabled development involves many manual, time-consuming steps.
With no-code, citizen developers alleviate development teams from less-complex, workflow-specific application creation. Line-of-business (LoB) employees using no-code follow a simple, proven process to quickly assemble their own secure and stable software. There’s no need for extensive training, technical expertise or lengthy development cycles. Pro development teams gain the time and energy to focus on coding enterprise-wide, mission-critical software.
Empowering Application Developers
But your software development team can also take advantage of no-code. Developers use no-code to quickly create robust, secure interfaces, forms and workflows that underlie more extensive applications. The reusable components of no-code have already gone through quality assurance and testing for security. They’re reliable, they integrate with popular systems, and they scale for higher performance.
Without the need to manually code entire programs from scratch, developers have more time to create sophisticated, function-specific or industry-targeted software. That can help you digitize processes and differentiates your company from the competition.
In fact, 2.57 million developers, or 11% of the development population, are now no-code or low-code specialists. It’s no wonder even the DevOps community is embracing no-code for its ability to “enable experienced developers to accelerate deployment and reduce IT backlogs.”
Making IT More Effective
As more citizen developers experience the benefits of no-code, it’s important for your IT team to retain ownership of software governance. Your IT function should vet the no-code platforms you deploy. IT should also make sure business users understand when an LoB-created no-code workflow provides the best solution, and when enterprise-scale software developed by your professional team makes more sense.
Yet governance is another area where no-code helps IT – especially when it comes to “shadow IT.” Shadow IT occurs when LoBs circumvent corporate policies to purchase their own software. Unapproved software can result in high costs, because one-off software purchases don’t benefit from economies of scale. Shadow IT can also introduce cybersecurity vulnerabilities that IT teams don’t even know about.
No-code helps IT departments limit rogue technology spending. When business users have no-code builders to create their own software, they’re less likely to waste money on shadow IT. And IT has less trouble trying to support unapproved applications.
Use of no-code and low-code technologies will nearly triple in the next few years, growing from 25% of new applications in 2020 to 70% of new applications by 2025, according to Gartner. Now, IT teams and business users have something they can agree on: No-code is good for everybody.
Small businesses have some advantages over their larger competitors. They can sense and respond to new customer demands quickly. They can turn on a dime when market drivers suddenly change. They’re not held back by bureaucracy, outmoded ways of doing business, or fear of new business models.
But when it comes to technology, large enterprises often gain the upper hand. They can afford the most sophisticated hardware and software. They can implement the latest and greatest features. They benefit from economies of scale. And they can field large application development teams to design any software functionality they can’t buy off the shelf.
Yet there’s one technology that levels the playing field for small businesses: no-code application development. A no-code app builder can give even the smallest startup the same capacity as an industry juggernaut to create customized capabilities that improve processes and serve customers better.
No-code: Big Trend for Small Business
A no-code application development tool enables non-technical team members to create sophisticated applications quickly and easily. Business users build applications simply by dragging and dropping reusable software elements onto a digital canvas. Behind the scenes, the tool assembles a functional, stable and secure application.
No-code is being embraced by small and midsize businesses (SMBs). In fact, 56% of SMBs have plans to increase their use of no-code and low-code tools compared to other enterprise software, according to Accenture. And for good reason. Here are five ways small companies can improve their business with no-code:
1. Avoid complex application development.
Application development is challenging, costly and time-consuming, for many reasons. First, it can be tough for small businesses to attract and retain experienced coders. Plus, those coders command high salaries. Then there’s the development process itself, which can require months of coding, reviews and testing before even the simplest software is ready for use.
No-code does away with all that. With no-code, “citizen developers” – virtually any business users in your company – follow a simple, proven process to quickly assemble secure and stable software. There’s no need for extensive training, technical expertise, or lengthy development cycles. It’s no surprise Accenture says 20% of SMBs are pursuing no-code and low-code because of the scarcity of technical staff.
2. Empower workers.
Your employees understand the workflows they manage every day. They also know the kinds of improvements that will eliminate redundant process steps and increase productivity. No-code empowers your employees by letting them apply their intimate knowledge of your business to continually improve it.
No-code-optimized webforms and workflows can make employees happier and more productive in their work. And the ability to take control of their workflows can make employees more engaged. That in itself can make your teams more efficient, as productivity for highly engaged teams is 14% higher than for teams with low engagement, according to Gallup.
3. Enable remote work.
The Covid-19 pandemic forced many small businesses to pivot to remote work where possible. Now that employees are working remotely, many want to keep it that way.
No-code can help. No-code apps are an effective way to enable remote workers and optimize remote work. No-code tools deliver robust interfaces that make business applications easier to use. They provide secure forms for fast data capture, data sharing and reporting. And they assemble sophisticated workflows that automate and accelerate both internal and customer-facing processes.
4. Optimize workflows.
No-code is an effective way to create workflow apps – software that partially or fully automates the steps to complete a task.
Workflow apps typically route information along a defined path, from data entry to reviews and approvals. The apps automatically guide each step along the way, triggering actions and issuing alerts. They can also measure workflow performance, so you can monitor how well workflows are functioning.
SMBs are using no-code and low-code for a variety of workflow-related purposes. According to the aforementioned Accenture research, those purposes include establishing new business rules and process controls (49% of respondents), building new process flows to complement other software (44%), creating new user experiences (41%), developing new business apps (37%), and offering new customer-facing apps (37%).
5. Drive faster growth.
Most small businesses want to grow – fast. No-code can help in three essential ways.
First, you can automate processes for greater efficiency. You can create applications that streamline repetitive but business-critical processes. Results include fewer errors, smoother operations, and more time for customer-facing activities.
Second, you can rapidly respond to changing needs. Because no-code tools are so easy to use, team members can quickly tweak forms and workflows to reflect new ways of doing business or even to meet a specific customer’s needs.
Last, you can drive continual business improvement. The more forms you digitize and workflows you automate, the faster you can complete repetitive tasks. And as team members become advocates for no-code development, they can foster a culture of innovation that encourages everyone in your organization to make digital improvements.
In fact, Accenture’s research shows that SMBs are gaining a wide range of benefits from no-code and low-code, including greater business agility (79% of respondents), faster speed to market (56%) and higher productivity (53%).
Ultimately, no-code app builders can help you enhance customer experiences. You can improve internal operations to focus on customer service, and you can find new ways to digitize how you serve customers. That’s powerful. After all, for businesses large and small alike, winning customers is the key to success.
For years now, organizations have relied on Microsoft Excel, Google Sheets and other spreadsheet software to support essential aspects of their businesses. Smaller businesses might handle major portions of their financial accounting in spreadsheets. Even large enterprises with sophisticated ERP systems regularly turn to spreadsheets to organize data or crunch numbers.
But as organizations digitize and automate, the limitations of this software become apparent. Even though they’re easy to use for less technical employees, spreadsheets aren’t designed for managing complex data or workflows of today’s business operations.
The fact is, the time has come for organizations of all sizes to recognize – and migrate away from – the constraints of their outdated spreadsheets. That’s especially true when it comes to managing workflows.
The good news is that an alternative solution already exists – one that’s simple, cost effective, and as easy to use as a spreadsheet. A no-code application development solution can empower you to quickly and easily create customized applications that optimize workflows, span process gaps, and help automate operations – in ways no spreadsheet ever could.
Addressing Spreadsheet Shortcomings
A no-code tool enables any business user to create software without writing code. Users simply drag and drop objects on a virtual canvas to build web apps, workflow apps, web forms or reports. The no-code tool automatically assembles those elements to create stable, secure no-code software to digitize and automate forms, applications and workflows.
There are several areas where spreadsheets fall short but where no-code provides the solution:
Avoiding errors – Because spreadsheets require repetitious, manual data entry, their outputs fall victim to human error. No-code software enables the creation of digitized forms and workflows that standardize data capture and enforce consistent processes, reducing errors.
Establishing controls – Spreadsheets are inherently siloed. They don’t allow you to easily view and manage workflows across systems or lines of business (LoBs). No-code applications are designed to span departments and link processes. Internal teams and external customers can benefit from no-code apps that store data and manage workflows in a centralized location.
Achieving insights and compliance – Spreadsheets don’t tell you anything about how workflows are running or status updates. A good no-code tool not only digitizes workflows; it also lets you track the effectiveness of those workflows. It can even help you demonstrate compliance with both internal process rules and external regulations.
Improving flexibility – Spreadsheets aren’t easily adaptable to evolving business demands. No-code tools let you customize workflows to your unique requirements. And because no-code tools are simple to use, team members can quickly fine-tune workflows to meet new departmental or customer needs – whenever those needs arise.
No-code Workflow Wins
Enterprises are using no-code and low-code app builders for a range of purposes, according to a recent survey. The survey found that businesses are using no-code and low-code for automating workflows (17% of respondents), creating new applications (15%), accelerating application development (15%), automating data collection and reporting (14%), and reducing the burden on professional developers (10%).
Another survey found that the top no-code benefits organizations cited include higher productivity (15%), faster application development (14%), automation of manual processes (12%), and easier workflows (10%).
No-code equips users to digitize a portion of a workflow for an incremental improvement or encode end-to-end workflows for even greater automation. The resulting workflows can enable data capture, notifications, escalations, reporting, and more. They can even integrate with existing systems to support broader processes and ensure efficiency and compliance.
Organizations across a wide range of industries are using no-code to optimize workflows: healthcare, insurance, energy, retail, financial services, higher education, K-12 schools and so on. No-code helps these organizations:
- Reduce manual errors
- Speed up processes
- Lower costs
- Enable compliance
- Improve customer service
- Replace static paper and PDF forms
Likewise, any business function can benefit from no-code, including finance, sales and marketing, IT, HR, customer support, facilities and more. For instance:
Finance can build workflow apps to manage order-to-cash, process invoices, handle payroll and approve budgets.
Sales can build workflows to route leads, approve quotes and process orders.
IT can assemble workflows to provision user technology, manage helpdesk calls and offer employee self-services.
HR can design workflows to onboard employees, conduct performance reviews, approve travel expenses and let workers request time off.
A spreadsheet might be able to help with some aspects of some of those tasks – in a limited, manual and error-prone way. But a good no-code application development tool is clearly superior: as easy to use as a spreadsheet, but able to create no-code software with far greater functionality and business benefit.
So, the next time you reach for your spreadsheet, stop and think about how much better the outcome could be. And then turn to a no-code solution to better manage your workflows.
The world has gone mobile. Nearly 16 billion mobile devices are in operation today. Well over one-half of all web traffic is now conducted from a mobile device. And in the workplace, 62% of users say mobile devices play a key role in helping them be productive, while 36% report their use of mobile devices at work has increased in the past year.
These trends have big implications for how your employees access the applications they need to do their jobs. The more your workers rely on smartphones and tablets, the more they need mobile access to your organization’s business-enabling software.
But does that mean you should migrate your applications to mobile apps? Or is there another way your users can access productivity software on their mobile devices? Knowing the answer can help your organization gain the most benefit from the mobile-device juggernaut.
The Defining Qualities of Mobile Applications
Before identifying the mobile strategy that’s right for your organization, it’s important to understand the difference between a native mobile app and a mobile web application.
A native mobile app is a program designed exclusively to run on a mobile device like a smartphone or tablet. It’s called “native” because it’s coded specifically for a particular mobile operating system (OS) such as Apple iOS or Google Android. These are the familiar consumer apps that you can download from an app store and that are used for everything from gaming to chatting to fitness.
Native mobile apps are popular because they offer specialized functionality in a self-contained format. But for business purposes, they have limitations. For starters, they don’t necessarily dovetail with other applications and processes in your enterprise.
But there’s a bigger issue when it comes to the custom applications you need to run your operations. Native mobile apps must be individually coded for different mobile platforms. So, you need to either limit your users to a specific mobile operating system – or spend the time and resources to have your development team essentially create separate apps for each mobile OS.
Mobile web applications are well-suited for business use. They enable your employees to use the mobile devices they already have to quickly and easily access the business functionality they need to do their jobs – whenever and wherever they need it. And there’s no need to create multiple versions for multiple mobile platforms.
No-Code Tools for Mobile Web Applications
In the past, organizations relied on their application development teams to design and create their mobile web applications. Today, your organization can take advantage of a no-code app builder to allow nontechnical teams to quickly and easily create applications for use on their mobile devices.
These citizen developers leverage a no-code software development tool to create, deploy and continually improve applications. When using a no-code tool, the organization benefits from insights and innovation already embedded in the workforce. In fact, Gartner says “the future of apps must include citizen development” and reports that 61% of companies are implementing or have plans for this approach.
How does it work? Customizable templates make building mobile web applications fast and easy. A drag-and-drop visual designer lets users simply select design objects for the application and drag them to a canvas. Behind the scenes, the tool automatically creates the application code. Departments from HR to finance to sales and service can digitize and automate workflows and processes for higher productivity and more effective customer service.
A no-code tool can also allow professional development teams to work more efficiently and cost-effectively. Developers can use no-code to speedily create robust, secure interfaces, forms and workflows that underlie mobile web applications. That way, they can focus on the more complex aspects of digitizing end-to-end processes.
Organizations across a wide range of industries – from energy to healthcare to higher education – are embracing no-code app builders to deploy the mobile web applications they need. By speeding up customized, business-enabling functionality to every employee’s mobile device, they can automate workflows, empower workers, save money and serve customers better.
Intelligent process automation (IPA), robotic process automation (RPA), processes enabled by artificial intelligence (AI) – organizations are investing significant sums in different types of automation. In fact, global spending on IPA, RPA and AI business processes will grow 68%, from an estimated $20.3 billion in 2021 to an expected $34.2 billion in 2023.
It’s easy to see why. Automation can transform company operations to run faster, more reliably and with fewer errors. It can also improve customer experiences while increasing employee engagement – freeing workers from repetitive tasks to focus on activities that add value.
Like processes, workflows are also increasingly automated. Workflows are sequential steps followed to complete a specific task. They might be used by a small team in the finance department. They may involve a function like HR that touches every employee. Or they could extend across multiple departments, such as IT and procurement. They’re how your employees get their jobs done – and how your organization runs.
But what exactly are workflow apps? And is there a way to quickly, easily and cost-effectively create customized workflow apps to make your organization run better?
Application Automation for Every Workflow
Workflow apps are simply software that automates, or partially automates, the steps to complete a task. Typically, workflow apps route information along a defined path, from data entry, to data transfer, to reviews and approvals.
Workflows apps automatically guide each step along the way, triggering actions and issuing alerts to the people who need them. They can also measure workflow performance so you can monitor how well your workflows are functioning.
Virtually every department in your organization can benefit from a workflow app: finance, HR, sales, marketing, IT, operations, customer support and more. For example:
- Finance can use workflow apps to handle payroll, manage order-to-cash processes, approve budgets, process invoices and more.
- HR can use them for onboarding employees, enabling workers to request time off, approving travel expenses and overseeing performance reviews.
- Sales and marketing can automate workflows for routing leads, nurturing leads, approving quotes, processing orders, and similar customer-focused activities.
- IT can leverage workflow apps to provision hardware and software, manage help desk incidents, enable employee self-services and more.
Without automation, these workflows can result in endless emails, manual revisions, miscommunication and slow company performance. They also can lead to mistakes, omissions and frustrations for both employees and customers.
Workflow apps can render these tasks speedy, on-target and predictable. They can help make sure staff get paid on time, IT problems get resolved quickly, customers get the prompt attention they deserve, and overall satisfaction is higher for employees and customers alike.
Building Workflow Apps with No-Code Workflow Tools
In the past, organizations had to shell out hefty fees for workflow automation software which often wasn’t tailored to meet their unique needs. Or they needed to hire specialized IT consultants to create custom workflow apps – a time-consuming and costly endeavor.
Today, though, a no-code workflow builder can empower non-technical employees, or citizen developers, to create their own workflow applications. Now the people who know your workflow processes best – your employees who work in finance, HR, sales and so on – can digitize and automate their workflows. The result is fast, cost-effective, and continual business improvement.
In fact, 55% of C-level executives see no-code/low-code tools as creators of new process flows, according to Accenture. And organizations say the top benefits of no-code/low-code solutions include automation of manual processes, easier workflows, and higher productivity, ZDNet reports.
A no-code tool can empower your citizen developers to digitize a portion of a workflow for an incremental improvement or build workflow apps for end-to-end workflows for even greater automation. The resulting workflows can enable data capture, notifications, escalations, reporting and more. They can even integrate with existing applications or databases to extend workflows and ensure both efficiency and compliance.
A drag-and-drop visual workflow designer lets users simply select design objects for the workflow app and drag them to a canvas to create the user interface, define workflow stages and configure business rules. Behind the scenes, the tool automatically creates code to digitize and automate the workflow.
Ultimately, workflow apps created with a no-code tool empower your organization to:
- Reduce time for workflow development and deployment
- Minimize dependence on technical resources
- Realize substantial cost savings
- Improve communication and compliance
- Gain better visibility into workflows and operations
- Empower employees to do their jobs more efficiently and serve customers more effectively
Workflow automation is accelerating operations and giving organizations new competitive advantages. And workflow apps created with a no-code workflow builder are enabling enterprises to achieve those goals faster and more cost-effectively than they thought possible.
Business process automation (BPA) and business process management (BPM) sound an awful lot alike. While the two are related, and in many ways complementary, they’re not the same. BPA is about automating processes, while BPM is about managing processes, which may or may not involve automation. In other words, you can consider all BPA to be a form of BPM, but not all BPM may include BPA.
Process automation and management are related, but not identical.
Both these concepts are important to the business world, and they apply in industries as diverse as food services, precision machining, and healthcare. The goal of both BPA and BPM is to make work more efficient, cut out unnecessary steps, and streamline workflows for greater productivity, better morale, and happier customers.
What Is BPA Software?
BPA software enables activities or services to be automated. A simple example of BPA would be software that takes a converts a paper form into an electronic form that is automatically submitted to the proper recipient upon completion. BPA software may be used in just about any department, including HR, supply chain, and IT. Form creating software is widely available, but that doesn’t mean that one software package is as good as another.
Business processes that are amenable to automation are typically those that are started by a specific, triggering event. For example, the filing of an expense report may trigger a pre-defined succession of steps that ends when the employee receives a reimbursement check (or electronic funds transferred to his or her account). Sometimes BPA software is aimed at a single initiative (like expense reporting), but it may be part of a larger BPM strategy.
What Is BPM Software?
BPM software is more comprehensive than BPA software, because it is designed to manage multiple workflows within an organization. Rather than focusing on automating a single process, BPM workflow software allows businesses to achieve greater overall efficiency and evolve along with changing business needs. Another result of a successful BPM Software implementation is reduction in human error (because, for instance, less manual data entry is typically involved) and clearer understanding of roles and responsibilities.
BPM is a systematic approach to improving processes. When it is successfully implemented, everyone understands better how they contribute to the achievement of business goals. This generally leads to a happier, more productive workforce, which tends to result in happier customers, higher revenues, and lower costs.
Greater staff efficiency improves morale, which leads to happier customers.
Workflow Automation Software and Business Processes
Workflow automation software with built-in flexibility, usability, and power can help an organization embark on business process automation or full-scale business process management. Many companies begin by automating a single process as a pilot project. For example, a company that is used to submitting IT help requests via phone or sticky note may develop an electronic online form that employees can use at their workstation or from their mobile device to request IT services. Once any unexpected wrinkles are ironed out and the new process proves its utility, the company may expand and automate other processes, such as new employee onboarding, travel expense reporting, or building maintenance requests.
Not Just Any Form Software Can Do the Job
Form creating software is widely available, but that doesn’t mean that one software package is as good as another. Don’t settle for form software that has a clunky or difficult user interface, or that locks you into pre-existing templates that aren’t right for your needs. Rather, you should choose form software with an intuitive user interface that doesn’t require users to know how to program in order to create useful, aesthetically pleasing electronic survey forms and sleek, automated workflows.
Many companies prefer cloud-hosted software so that they don’t have to worry over on-site servers and their maintenance. Does your form software offer a cloud-hosted option? Technical and customer service after the sale are also critically important, so be sure to read case studies or contact companies that have used a product before you commit to it. If the form software provider offers a free trial, check that out too. This way you can make an informed decision that can make a measurable difference in your organization’s workflows and efficiency.
PerfectForms’ form software offers tremendous power through an intuitive interface that allows users to easily drag and drop form or workflow elements into place on a virtual canvas. You can start with a range of included, fully customizable templates or begin from scratch if you want. Organizations that automate one form or workflow with PerfectForms soon find countless other applications for it. Why not sign up for a free trial and discover for yourself how powerful and easy-to-use PerfectForms software is?
The issue of automation can be a touchy one for many businesses. While people embrace the idea of having the technology tools they need to do their work with maximum efficiency, many of them are wary of the possibility of being automated out of a job altogether.
But in many cases, automation won’t replace human workers, and in fact will free them up to do their best work, by taking some of the repetitive drudgery out of certain tasks.
If your business is working toward automating some of your more repetitive or inefficient workflows, you should be aware of some of the most common challenges businesses face when adopting automated workflows. Here are five challenges of business process automation adoption:
1. Workflow Steps That Are Taken for Granted
To create automated workflows, you have to understand them thoroughly, on a step-by-step basis. The entire process must be defined in discrete steps so that the right conditions trigger the right sequential actions. If one step in a current workflow is, for example, “Handing the folder to Brenda for processing,” then you must also break down every step that Brenda takes in processing that folder. Otherwise, automation can’t improve the “meat” of the business process.
2. Taking on Too Much at Once
When you have outstanding workflow software, naturally you want to put it to work right away. But trying to overhaul all your business processes at once can lead to confusion and disappointment. It’s better to start with one clearly definable workflow, automate and test it, and then, once it proves its mettle, choose another workflow to automate. You’re better off starting by automating simple, standalone processes before attempting to automate complex business processes.
3. Failure to Set and Measure Progress Toward Goals
While “automated workflows” can itself be a goal, you have to be more specific. Successful automated workflows must be designed with clear goals in mind, such as, “Cutting the travel reimbursement process from a five-day process to a two-day process”. As you design the workflow, you must test it out along the way to ensure that progress is indeed being made toward that goal. Before your automated workflow goes live for all users, you need to run one or more test cases to see if any unforeseen issues will slow it down, and if so, fix them.
4. Workflow Automation Software That’s Inadequate or Difficult to Use
There was a time not that long ago when workflow automation required the input of trained programmers. Today that is not necessarily the case, but not all workflow software is equal. A software package that’s designed for ease of use may not be powerful enough to do what you need it to. Conversely, a software package that’s powerful enough may have an excessively steep learning curve. Evaluate workflow automation software carefully to ensure both that it does what you want, and that you can learn to use it in a reasonable amount of time.
5. Lack of Follow-Up
You have performed workflow automation, and all appears to be going well. Now is not the time to forget about it, however. Longer-term follow-up is necessary to deal with unforeseen problems, and to apply metrics that help you determine ROI. How much faster is the new automated workflow than the old manual one? Have error rates dropped? They should have. What are people’s main “pain points” with the new workflow? Can they be addressed without unnecessary disruption?
Efficient business process automation is a competitive differentiator for businesses, and for many businesses, the automated workflow is a key ingredient. With PerfectForms as your workflow management software, you not only have power and flexibility to automate workflows across departments, you have a user-friendly interface that eliminates the need for programming.
If you want to find out for yourself, you can try PerfectForms for free by signing up for a trial. Automate a single workflow and see for yourself how efficient, automated workflows can change everything!