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Mary Ludloff

Mary Ludloff

Recent Posts

Top Five Reasons Companies are Turning to No-Code Development Platforms

In the past, companies had two options for building custom apps: They could either hire a team of internal developers and have them work on traditional or low-code app platforms or outsource the entire process to a third-party agency. Either way, the process was highly resource-intensive. Now, a growing number of companies are embracing an alternative method of software development: leveraging no-code platforms. AppSheet’s no-code platform, for instance, enables technical or non-technical workers to quickly and inexpensively create custom apps that solve everyday business challenges. No-code platforms are now being used to build apps that do everything from creating and tracking daily workflows to streamlining site and safety inspections—and everything in between. With that in mind, let’s look at five reasons today’s leading organizations are increasingly turning to no-code development platforms. 1. Reduced software development costs A recent DZone article suggests that it can take as long as nine months and cost as much as $250,000 to build a custom software application. AppSheet’s no-code development platform expedites the process considerably—translating into significant savings. For example, a home services company based out of Singapore was able to reduce software expenses by 60% with AppSheet. Instead of having to build apps from scratch, AppSheet analyzes the underlying data to determine how an app should work. The platform then builds out an initial iteration of the app that can then be updated by citizen developers via an intuitive user-friendly interface. Add it all up, and no-code platforms like AppSheet enable non-technical employees to build custom apps in days—or even hours. 2. Reclaimed time thanks to automation We all know what it’s like to do repetitive tasks at work every day. Cumulatively, these tasks take up a lot of time. When you keep doing the same thing over and over again, things are bound to get a bit monotonous, too. No-code platforms enable employees to build software solutions that streamline routine tasks like tracking inventory, compiling daily reports, and filling out time cards. As such, companies that use the innovative technology can expect their teams to reclaim a lot of time. In fact, Forrester says that low-code platforms (including no-code) can reduce development time by at least 10x. All of that extra time can then be invested in other growth areas. 3. Increased employee engagement One of the main causes of unhappiness and poor performance at work is a lack of engagement. When workers feel powerless or tethered to inefficient processes, they tend to lose motivation. An easy way to boost employee engagement is by helping your team develop digital skills. No-code platforms can help here, too, by enabling citizen developers to build powerful applications. Employees get to use new technology to learn new things—which translates into increased engagement and, by extension, more productivity. 4. Decreased security risks The last thing a business wants is for insecure apps to cascade across the enterprise, opening the door to countless vulnerabilities. Today’s leading no-code platforms offer robust features that guarantee secure and compliant apps that are in line with new regulatory protocols like Europe’s GDPR. Because it enables employees to build the perfect tool for the job, no-code development can also help reduce shadow IT. This has enormous implications, particularly since Gartner predicts that 33% of successful attacks on enterprises will result from shadow IT by 2020. Taken together, no-code platforms can help organizations strengthen security and governance while mitigating their exposure to risks. 5. Accelerated innovation(!) Since no-code platforms speed up software development, the technology also accelerates innovation. With custom apps in place, employees can get more things done in less time—which means getting products to market faster. Imagine an employee has to toggle between several different platforms to do their job. Not only can such an experience be frustrating, it can also be quite time-consuming. Now let’s say that same employee uses an app built on the AppSheet platform (or other no-code platform) to manage those actions. Efficiency increases, driving competitive advantage. No-code: The future of app development Getting the best results starts with using the right tool for the job at hand. Thanks to no-code platforms, organizations can increase efficiency and productivity while making their employees happier. To learn more about how your enterprise can benefit from a no-code platform, take a look at some of these sample apps to get an idea of what you can build. You can also read about how one of Colorado’s leading construction contractors used AppSheet to streamline management with custom apps in this case study.  

KLB Construction Intern, Vivian Nowka-Keane, Talks About Her Fearless App Building Journey

Over the years, I’ve gotten to know Richard Glass, Director of Information Services at KLB Construction, pretty well. Since KLB is Seattle-based, we’ve gotten together a few times for lunch to discuss Richard’s digital transformation progress. And it’s safe to say that Richard and KLB continue to remain at the forefront of automation in the construction industry.  If you’re curious about what they’re doing, check out this case study. Now, I’ve known that Richard tends to hire interns to work on some of his app projects during the summer and school vacations. But I’ve always assumed those interns were University of Washington students as we have a number of them working for us each year. So, imagine my surprise when I discovered that Richard’s intern was a high school student! I had lunch with both of them and after chatting with Vivian Nowka-Keane, an intern who has worked with Richard for the past two years, I wanted to hear more of her story. And that’s how this podcast came into being. In it, one our UW interns, Dain “Yoshi” Yoshizumi, sits down with Vivian to talk about how she got into tech, what she learned about app development from KLB and Richard, how she used the AppSheet platform, and her future plans. And full disclosure: Vivian is now a freshman at the Rochester Institute of Technology, majoring in cybersecurity with an emphasis on—you guessed it, computer programming! This is a great, true story of how one young woman followed her passions—equal parts journalism, math, and of course, computer science—and learned to be fearless. In her words: “Never let fear get in the way of pursuing something you’re interested in—no fear of outside judgement, obstacles, or failure is more important than discovering things for yourself…” Hopefully, we’ve all had the good fortune to have mentors like Richard, ready and willing to help us on our own journeys! So when you have a few minutes, please listen to the podcast below and learn: How Vivian “found” her KLB app building gig. Vivian’s take on the digitization of the construction industry and why it’s important. Why user input is so critical for app adoption. The role that The Tao of Programming played during Vivian’s KLB internship.  

Leading construction contractor chooses to build a no-code solution over buying Procore software

Front Range Excavating streamlined management and saved thousands of dollars using AppSheet’s cutting-edge no-code app development platform. For more than 30 years, Front Range Excavating has provided construction, excavation, and environmental services to commercial property owners in Colorado’s Front Range region.   Together, the company’s 35 managers, field employees, drivers, and mechanics complete around 25 major projects every year. There is little room for error in this type of environment. Even the smallest oversight can lead to injuries, project delays, and other negative consequences. Succeeding in this space starts with having a reliable internal management system that makes it easy to store data, share notes, and update team members on new development. To keep everyone aligned, real-time communication is critical. Scott Nance, vice president of Front Range, has used several construction management platforms over the last several years. But he was disappointed with each one he tried. Platforms like Procore cost thousands of dollars per year but don’t guarantee a positive user experience. According to Nance, the team was frustrated with the lack of customization and flexibility each platform offered. Front Range required a solution that could meet their exact needs.   “Most platforms are meant for general contractors or larger operations,” Nance explains. “They offer a lot of features. But most of them don’t apply to what we do as a specialized subcontractor. We wanted something that could go deeper. ” Nance’s team needs to track things like labor and equipment, trucking, materials, and subcontractors on a regular basis. “There are certain details within those groups that aren’t easily captured with standard apps—like tonnage or yardage when a truck is hauling items and load counts,” Nance continues. “Those details can be very tricky to record with generic software. The services we tried all required workarounds and none of them were very beneficial. They were also expensive.” Since none of the existing solutions on the market met his needs, Nance decided to build an app himself. Front Range discovers AppSheet Nance stumbled across AppSheet’s no-code platform two years ago when he was building a form in Google. He was blown away at what he could create on his own with just a working knowledge of spreadsheets. Nance, after all, does not come from a technical background. His experience is in construction. Leveraging AppSheet’s renowned online community—and his wits—Nance was able to create a robust app that automates a variety of tasks like reporting, payroll, maintenance, and repairs. The app also provides email and text notifications, making it easy for team members to see important messages throughout the day. “I started building some basic forms, then let my imagination run,” Nance explains. “At first, we started using AppSheet to quickly capture data from the field. But the more we experimented with the platform, the more features we were able to discover and leverage.” Creating custom apps quickly On average, it takes at least six months to build an enterprise app. Thanks to AppSheet, it took Nance only one month to create a fully operational app that seamlessly captured every process in his company. The app can handle very large sets of data, which the company stores in a single Google file that has 30 different sheets. Each sheet has about 20 columns. Altogether, there are thousands of rows full of information.    Nance is still tinkering with the app today. In fact, he’s getting ready to release a major update. Right now, there are about 10 employees using the app for backend management and equipment maintenance. For example, the company’s shopkeepers, mechanics, technicians, and general superintendent all use the app to schedule and track repairs. Each machine can be entered and tracked for needing repairs—like low fluid levels and inadequate tire pressure. Front Range is in the process of scaling their app, though, and will soon roll the solution out to every employee in the company. For example, the company plans to release a field app for employees in non-managerial positions. This app will provide access to daily schedules, contact information, time cards, vacation and reimbursement requests, and more—basically anything that relates to an employee on a personal level. This will be a smaller version of the company’s management app, which offers the same features along with advanced reporting and governance tools. According to Nance, each department will have its own version of the app, tailored to their exact needs. “The newest rendition will save us at least two days’ worth of administrative work in the office,” Nance said. “Our payroll alone will be cut from a full-day’s worth of work down to maybe 30 minutes. We also plan to streamline many other processes—like writing hourly tickets, managing personnel, calculating load counts, and more.” The app also helps Front Range keep up with maintenance, repairs and numerous safety requirements mandated by the state and federal government. “We have safety meetings that we have to hold periodically,” Nance explained. “With AppSheet, we’re able to record those and email those to superintendents the minute they happen.” Front Range’s custom app also enables them track repairs in real time, which helps them see exactly which machines are getting serviced and what appointments are coming up. “We’re now able to do all of those tasks on a phone instead of having to do them on a computer,” Nance said. “This means no more clunky equipment laying around the shop.” What can you build with AppSheet? We asked Nance for some advice to share with other AppSheet users who are just starting out. Nance pointed back to AppSheet’s online community, which continues to inspire him. “There are people posting some absolutely amazing solutions to various problems,” Nance concluded. “Search through there and start thinking of the different things you want to include—whether that’s advanced reporting, email notification, charts or graphs. Use your imagination. If you can think of it, AppSheet can probably do it. You just have to figure out what it looks like and how to go about it.” Curious about what you can build with AppSheet? The short answer: whatever your business needs.  Take a look at these sample apps to get an idea. Interested in exploring how AppSheet supports larger enterprises? Check out KLB Construction's in-depth case study to learn how a Seattle-based company transformed their inspections, operations, and reporting systems for hundreds of employees and contractors. Or, get in touch with your specific needs.

How Husqvarna Became a Thought Leader in Warehouse and Inventory Management

Part of my job is to keep a finger on what I like to call our customer pulse in order to produce customer stories and case studies. And I am constantly surprised and impressed by the innovative ways our customers use our platform to create apps that truly transform their business. Such is the case with Husqvarna. Most likely you’ve seen or used many of their products as they are a manufacturer of outdoor power products, including chain saws, garden tractors, push mowers, and trimmers. You can always tell it’s a Husqvarna product due to its brand color that is always prominently featured—I call it the Husqvarna orange. Less than a year ago, the team at Husqvarna’s largest North American warehouse facility located in South Carolina, made a bold decision: automate the entire facility with a suite of custom apps built on the AppSheet platform. Their goal: digital transformation through the automation of all their warehouse and inventory management processes. This is a pretty ambitious goal, particularly when you consider that the 125,000-square-foot warehouse manages more than 35,000 product SKUs—with more than 160 warehouse workers supporting this effort. And yet, Husqvarna was able to accomplish this within 8 months by building a series of apps—41 in all—to manage inventory, personnel, forklift drivers, goods reception, and quality tracking. Now, you may think that Husqvarna either had a team of developers or consultants who took on the massive project which probably had an equally massive price tag. Well, think again. Mark Creighton, Operations Manager, and his co-worker, Erika Braxton, were the “development” team. Neither had any development background and yet, they were able to create 41 custom apps—all without writing a single line of code—at a fraction of the cost when compared with other development platform solutions. Fast forward to today. With the apps, Husqvarna was able to increase productivity, offer better visibility into key metrics, motivate workers, and contribute to profitability. In my mind, that’s how you become a leader in a space—by setting ambitious goals designed to transform your business and then setting out on a path that helps you achieve them. Such is the case with Husqvarna and I suspect by now that you want to know more about what they did and how they did it. To read the entire case study, go here. And as always, comments and questions are greatly appreciated!   

AppSheet Smart Assistant: You Can Now Talk to Your Apps

Have you ever wanted to just talk to an app you were trying to use? Bypass the interface and tell it what you were looking for or what you wanted to do? And then, magically, have the app do what you told it to do? Me too and I am happy to report that our latest feature, Smart Assistant, does just that. There's no magic here—Smart Assistant is a natural language interface that empowers users to bypass an app's interface and directly query the underlying data. By simply checking a box in our platform, creators can activate Smart Assistant across all apps deployed for their business. Users can then simply type or use voice commands to access data immediately, whether they are in an office or in the field. Pretty cool. Even cooler: this type of functionality, although incredibly useful, is also incredibly hard to implement! Normally, an app feature like this would take months to develop, require a senior developer with a background in machine learning and natural language processing, and, at minimum, a six-figure investment. But with the AppSheet platform, an automatic conversational UI is built out for an app in minutes. Yes, in minutes. I suspect you may be asking "how is this possible?" Well, AppSheet is a no-code, intelligent platform. Unlike code-driven platforms, our platform is intent-driven—able to derive the intent of the app being built. As a result, rich AI-forward features like Smart Assistant can be automatically created for any app built with our platform. So, instead of app users having to adapt to technology, technology adapts to the users. Check it out in the video below.     Essentially, Smart Assistant is the Siri for apps. And, of course, the more users use Smart Assistant, the more it learns and the more it learns, the more personalized the experience. Like I said: That's because technology should adapt to you, not the other way around. To learn more about how to enable Smart Assistant in your apps, go here. And for all the app users out there: Yes, you can now talk to your apps. Just tell your creators to turn on the option!

AppSheet Named A Leader Among Mobile Low-Code Platforms for Business Developers by Independent Research Firm

Leading global research and advisory firm, Forrester Research, named AppSheet as a leader in Mobile Low-Code Development Platforms for Business Developers. We received the highest scores possible in thirteen specific criteria, including business model/service vision, product revenue growth rate, enterprise installation growth, mobile offline, platform administration, and AI and NLP. AppSheet was among a group of select companies that Forrester invited to participate in its report, The Forrester Wave™: Mobile Low-Code Platforms for Business Developers, Q3 2018. Forrester identified the twelve most significant low-code platform vendors and evaluated them against 30 criteria, which were grouped into three high-level buckets: current offering, strategy, and market presence. We achieved the highest score in the strategy category. In AppSheet’s vendor profile, Forrester’s report stated: “AppSheet is laser-focused on creating apps from business-friendly sources.” “The AppSheet platform stood out as a powerful facilitator for business users with little or no programming knowledge to create apps in a matter of minutes.” “Users on the platform create robust applications and leverage top notch app analytics for suggestions to improve performance.” Needless to say (but we will), we are more than proud of this achievement. To us, it is a validation of the hard work we’ve been doing over the fast few years to advance our intelligent, intent-driven no code platform and position it for the future where apps run in any “container.” We started this journey with all of you in 2014. Our mission was simple: everyone should be able to make apps. Fast forward to 2018: we have a powerful, positioned-for-the-future app development platform that has been recognized as a leader in our space by a leading global research and advisory firm. Yes, we are more than proud. We are grateful to all of our customers and partners who have taken this journey with us. Thank you. To get a complimentary copy of this Forrester Wave™ report, go here.

Annual Load Book: An App for Truck Owner-Operators or Fleet Owners

Every person’s path to becoming an app creator is different. And every app is unique in its own way. For Annual Load Book owner Jack Bates, this is a story about how a simple app designed to formulate the cost and revenue per mile for each of his trucking jobs became an app that all truckers could use to manage their expenses, calculate the cost and revenue per mile, and share information about food and other services on routes. Like many app creators, Jack started out trying to solve a specific business problem: how to calculate the revenue per mile for a load to determine whether he should take on a job. While the spreadsheet he created calculated the revenue based on all the costs he entered, it was difficult to use when he was talking with freight brokers about loads. Enter AppSheet. Jack used the platform to create an app that he could use on his phone as he was talking with brokers about loads so that he could calculate load costs and revenue in real-time. In the red? Don’t take the load. In the black? Take the load. The app streamlined Jack’s decision-making process and steered him towards the most profitable jobs. On the road, it made his job much easier as he could simply enter expenses, etc., using his phone. And then Jack got a big idea. If the app worked so well for him, couldn’t it work for other owner operators or fleet managers? And that is how the Annual Load Book got its start. To find out more about Jack’s big idea and app that helps drivers calculate their revenue, go here. And if you’d like to see what kind of app you can create using the AppSheet platform, just sign up here to build your app.

Innovator Spotlight: How AppSheet Helped Nonprofit Translators without Borders Support Humanitarian Field Workers and Interpreters

One of the best things about my role at AppSheet is learning about how our customers use the AppSheet Platform to make their businesses and organizations more efficient. And when this includes influencing positive changes in the world, it’s gratifying and humbling at the same time. Translators without Borders falls into the gratifying and humbling category. It’s a nonprofit organization that offers language and translation support for humanitarian and development agencies. Imagine, for a minute, just how difficult it must be for those in crisis to navigate what is often a bewildering landscape of relief support. This is made more difficult when language becomes a barrier to understanding what support is available. Enter Mirko Plitt, Head of Technology for Translators without Borders. His goal: develop glossaries that support humanitarian field workers and interpreters so that they can communicate more effectively with the people they are helping. Mirko used the AppSheet Platform to build glossary apps that were then used in the field, in online and offline situations, by translators. As Mirko puts it: “These glossaries help to bridge a communication gap in the field because many terms are technical or administrative in nature and are not commonly known to translators… Due to the nature of our work, it’s critical that we are able to access this information when there is no internet access of any kind.” To learn more about Mirko, Translators without Borders, and the glossary apps, watch this AppSheet Innovators Series video. About Translators without Borders Originally founded in 1993 in France as Traducteurs sans Frontières by Lori Thicke and Ros Smith-Thomas to link the world’s translators to vetted non-profit organizations that focus on health, nutrition and education, Translators without Borders is a U.S. non-profit organization that aims to close the language gaps that hinder critical humanitarian and international development efforts worldwide. TWB recognizes that the effectiveness of any aid program depends on delivering information in the language of the affected population. By maintaining a global network of professional translators, TWB helps non-profit organizations overcome communication barriers, increasing access to critical information and services while fostering a climate of understanding, respect, and dignity in times of great need. 

Construction Management: Buy Off-the-Shelf or Build Your Own Apps?

Digital technology is changing industries and their players. Smartphones and mobile apps have made it easy for companies across verticals to do business in new, more efficient, and customer-friendly ways. Moving Towards a Digital Environment But not all industries are advancing at the same pace. Construction, for example, is one of the least digitized sectors in the world. The construction space has what McKinsey Global Institute describes as “an intractable productivity problem.” Large projects frequently run 20 percent longer than anticipated and go up to 80 percent over budget, the firm reports. “One reason for the industry’s poor productivity record is that it still relies mainly on paper to manage its processes and deliverables such as blueprints, design drawings, procurement and supply-chain orders, equipment logs, daily progress reports, and punch lists,” McKinsey notes. “Due to the lack of digitization, information sharing is delayed and may not be universal. Owners and contractors therefore often work from different versions of reality.” That’s a real barrier considering commercial construction industry faces continued labor shortages and involves a growing amount of off-site construction due to greater adoption of modular, prefabricated, and sustainable material solutions, as Construct Connect reports. Mobile Apps Key to Digitization in Construction Sector Mobile apps can help busy workers be more productive by allowing them to do away with paper-based processes and instead, access and enter information on their smartphones. That way people at construction offices and sites can get the job done efficiently and effectively wherever they are. Once you make the decision to go digital, there are a number of off-the-shelf solutions to consider as well as development platforms that enable you to build custom apps. Buy vs. Build Let’s look at some key considerations in the build vs. buy decision making process. Budget Some businesses hire outside specialists to build their mobile apps. That tends to be quite expensive. It also limits the scope of what organizations can achieve with their mobile apps. Because in the buy scenario, every app iteration or improvement brings added consulting and development costs. Timing You’ll also want to consider the time factor in your buy-or-build decision. Working with outside software developers – or even relying on your organization’s own internal developers and IT staff members – for app development can be a lengthy process. But with the right tools, people without technical backgrounds can create mobile apps quickly and easily. And they can add to and improve their mobile apps as needed. There’s another key benefit. Individuals who will be using the apps know what they need that software to do. So nothing gets lost in translation during the initial build or planning for future iterations. Adaptability Speaking of future iterations, ease of change is another thing to think about in making a buy vs. build determination. Organizations that buy packaged mobile apps, or engage developers to create them, tend to face a one-and-done scenario. So after the app is purchased, there’s little opportunity to tweak it as new needs arise and innovative ideas take hold. However, when people build their own apps, they enjoy the benefits of continuous improvement. And they can easily and inexpensively add additional features as needed. Once you determine your budget, timing, and adaptability criteria, it’s much easier to make the buy or build decision. And if your decision is to build your own, then we hope you will consider AppSheet’s development platform. Why AppSheet? Our platform allows people like you to make mobile apps directly from your data – with no coding. Those apps can be up and running on Android and iPhone devices within minutes. AppSheet lets you build app prototypes for free and customized apps at a very low cost. So you can start small and build from there. Get Started Today Now is the time for construction companies to adopt mobile apps to improve productivity and safety, and to drive growth. Whether you are looking to do inventory and material tracking, order taking, project management, safety compliance audits and reports, worker attendance and scheduling, and more—any process can be digitized and automated. Mobile apps allow you and your colleagues to get, record, and share vital information at job sites, in transit, or at the corporate office. But don’t take our word for it. Learn how KLB Construction made the decision to go mobile, creating a number of apps to manage their employees and job sites using AppSheet’s platform.