Let’s say your business is used fork sales. You buy second-hand forks, test them, refurbish them as needed, and sell them online. Seems like a manageable process, doesn’t it?
But, wait. The second-hand utensil market is heating up and, by golly, you find yourself having trouble meeting demand. Forking over the cash to hire a helper is one solution, but there’s another option, too. And this one might serve you better in the long run: Making your business processes more efficient.
That’s where custom web applications come in.
The word “web app” gets thrown around a lot, so let’s clear the air: A web app behaves a lot like traditional software, but you execute it through a browser. There are a couple of advantages to this, like greater accessibility and the fact that no installation is required. Web apps are “on the go” in that you can usually access them from any computer or mobile device connected to the internet (unless it’s configured for internal use only, of course.)
The web app’s interface is what you see and interact with; it’s the proverbial tip of the iceberg. Below the crust are interconnected databases that store your data in tables, fields and records.
So, back to Forks’R’Us:
The CEO of Forks’R’Us decides to invest in a custom application so the company is poised for growth instead of playing catch-up. Here’s what the basic makeup of the Forks’R’Us web app might look like, to mirror their existing business process:
Purchase – All purchase-related data, including receipt information, is organized and stored. At this point, a unique record for each fork is created, which will help “tell the story” of the fork as it moves through the workflow.
Inspection – This is where things can get interesting. With a responsive web app, you could perform each (four-point?) inspection using a mobile device and submit the results directly to the database with a tap of the touchscreen. Beats paper, pens, scanning and saving, don’t you think?
Refurbishment – Once the inspection results are in, this component automatically creates a work order based on any needed repairs. Upon completion, it is marked as being ready for sale.
Sale – If Forks’R’Us has an ecommerce site, this component could automatically list the fork online, capture and process sale and customer information, and cue it for shipping. It could even extend into the realm of customer relations management to handle customer satisfaction checks and future communications like electronic mailouts.
The bigger benefits
On the surface, it’s easy to see how the Forks’R’Us web app cuts the time, effort and cost of day-to-day operations. Truth is, though, that’s just the beginning. Even in this simple example, a good web app can position a company for sustainable, long-term growth. The more you know!
Centralized data – Forks’R’Us’ data is in a single, secure repository, meaning staff can confidently access the most up-to-date information without having to worry about finding “the latest spreadsheet” or wasting time on duplicating and emailing data from person-to-person.
Remote offices – With a web-based, multi-user solution, staff can work from anywhere. This opens the door for satellite teams, and enables staff to work while they’re travelling or from home.
Low IT costs – Once you’ve invested in a custom web app, it’s yours – no annual license renewals required. The only thing you might have to pay for is monthly/annual offsite hosting costs (for secure and worriless server use and data storage) but the cost is minimal.
Easy reporting and auditing – By having all your information centralized, organized and connected, auditing becomes way less painful. You can also have your web app designed to do custom reporting, or automatically export and send out reports on a regular basis.
Web-based applications can help your company work more efficiently. They give your employees the information and tools to access the data they want, when and where they want it. This benefit trickles down to customers, suppliers and other stakeholders as well.
When technology is used to digitize traditional work processes, it is always an expense. But technology that eliminates bureaucracy, inefficiencies and dated procedures is a revenue generator. Here, at Urban Lighthouse, our bread and butter is working with forward-thinking firms to build those technologies.
And yes, technology can be beautiful. If you haven’t experienced that feeling, or are wondering how a web app can help you become more effective and efficient, give us a call. We’d be happy to help, even if you just need a little guidance.