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Randall Nichols
 |  September 19, 2017

How Versa Cloud Uses Process Apps to Automate Site Inspections.png

Municipalities are often at a disadvantage when searching for operation management applications. On the one hand, cities and towns require access to the same types of powerful solutions that large enterprises use. However, they are typically confined by tight budgets.

These are the challenges we face at OperationWorks, where we supply operation management solutions for a variety of organizations across multiple states. Many of our clients are local towns and municipalities that need to carefully track and report where their taxpayer's dollars go. It’s therefore crucial that we keep time and costs at a minimum when developing apps to offer competitive prices that align with our clients’ budgetary needs.

At the same time, we must also ensure that our apps perform at the highest possible levels. Our goal is not to meet our clients’ expectations, but to exceed them at every possible turn.

For this reason, AppSheet’s platform is one of our favorite tools. By sparing us from the heavy lifting of writing and testing underlying code, we can spend more time focusing on higher level tasks that differentiate our services.

This translates into significant savings for our customers. With the help of AppSheet, for instance, we were recently able to reduce the cost of one client’s Municipal application by over $200,000. We are now working on a new version of the app, built with AppSheet, at a fraction of the price and significantly out-performs the former version.

Why We Chose AppSheet

Our primary goal when searching for an app-building platform was to find a program that would enable end users to create highly-customizable forms and reports, using their data, but this proved to be challenging.

We experimented with just about every leading app building product on the market, including programs like Microsoft’s PowerApps and Google’s App Maker. AppSheet is the only company we found that supplied us with all the tools needed to build intuitive, platform-independent data collection forms. AppSheet’s direct connection with Google's G Suite allows us to Develop Custom Add-ons for Google Sheets, Docs, and Forms to supply our clients with all the reporting and data analytics they require. Some programs, it should be noted, charged upwards of $2,000 for a single report. Others proved to be immensely complicated and limited.

After an extensive trial and error process, our team was drawn to AppSheet for three reasons:

It’s highly flexible: AppSheet integrates with a variety of different cloud storage and spreadsheet providers, two of which include Google and Microsoft Office 365. A big selling point, primarily because it gives our team the ability to integrate with our clients’ preferred systems unlike Microsoft's PowerApps, which forces you to use Excel.

The platform is user-friendly: AppSheet’s user interface is easy to navigate, which makes life easier for end users. The platform is also customizable, well designed and has a built-in "Deployment Check." you can feel confident your App is bug-free and ready for deployment. In fact, we have never had a quality issue using AppSheet.

It gives you more control: You can use AppSheet to run very simple or complex expressions, depending on your needs. We love AppSheet’s expression builder and tester, which allows users to filter and sort data from multiple spreadsheets. Enabling users to create custom reports on the fly, is very useful for field technicians.

Examples of AppSheet in Action

Most of our clients use the apps we make to streamline their operations. For example, we designed an app for the City of Waltham’s water and sewage department to help with a process called backflow testing. In plumbing, this refers to the direction that water flows in a pipe. Water that flows in the wrong direction could cause serious contamination issues; individual devices must be inspected at various intervals throughout the year. Cities like Waltham, however, often have thousands of devices in the field that need to be checked on a yearly basis, making it difficult to record progress.

The app we designed provides department managers and field workers with a bird’s eye view, via Google Maps, of every location across the City. Each site on the checklist can be modified with special filters, so that team members can provide real-time status updates and notes as they perform inspections.

Of course, organizations of all types require cost-effective applications, and so we occasionally work with providers in different industries such as education. We recently designed an app for a large department of an Ivy League University that replaces three manual processes with one seamless solution. Now, instead of entering data manually, technicians can just scan a QR code on the door and check off completed tasks, saving staff members a tremendous amount of time. 

I can’t say enough positive things about AppSheet, as the platform has allowed us to lower our costs, and provide more value to our customers. I have more to say about our experience using AppSheet, though, so make sure to check back soon for a close comparison between PowerApps and AppSheet, as well as tips that you should consider when selecting an app-building platform.

Read more AppSheet Customer Spotlight stories and learn how AppSheet customers in different industries and roles make fantastic apps:

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Citizen Developers are Workplace Innovators. They build custom apps to improve and optimize work processes in their organizations, introducing innovative ways to "get work done." As citizen development becomes the new normal, it promotes innovation, agility, and flexibility throughout an organization. To learn more about AppSheet and citizen developers, check out the following page:

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Randall Nichols

Randall is the President and CEO of (original name Versa Cloud), an AppSheet partner. A proactive innovator, Randall has more than 30 years of experience delivering cutting-edge solutions for industry leaders such as ExxonMobil, Con Edison Gas and the City of Worcester.

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