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AppSheet Attends the Royal Wedding

  Everyone and everything at Prince Harry and Meghan Markle’s Royal Wedding was simply top drawer. So you wouldn’t think anything would go missing from this venerable event. But it’s not uncommon for things to get lost in the shuffle at such large and complex gatherings. So it’s useful for companies that provide equipment for these celebrations to have a firm accounting of what they bring in and what they gather up at the end. Organizations that supply pricey communications gear, like broadcast TV and two-way communications radios, are particularly keen on doing that. So while Dallas Mcintosh ­– who designed, installed, and optimized a trunk digital radio system to enable one-on-one communications for press and Royal Wedding organizers, and an analog duplex radio system used by outside broadcast trucks to support live TV – hadn’t expected to provide equipment tracking assistance to the client that called on him to help out with the Royal Wedding, he wasn’t entirely surprised either. Dallas knew from experience that people who provide communications for big shindigs anticipate losing about 10 percent of their gear like walkie-talkies – in large part because the individuals who use them simply misplace or forget to return them. And, at around $600 per device, that’s a significant loss. The good news is that Dallas already had a solution to help his client prevent this kind of problem. It came in the form of an application powered by AppSheet. This app uses smartphone cameras to capture the tiny barcodes on handheld radios provided by companies like Dallas’ client. That way radio owners know which devices they have issued to users at events, and when and which of those radios are returned. “I didn’t even know that I would be using anything to do with AppSheet [for the Royal Wedding] until just before the event where my client said ‘So, how are we going to look after what goes out the door and how we’ll get it back?’” said Dallas. So he showed his client the existing AppSheet app he had. “They loved it.” Dallas said. “So that’s what we used.” Dallas made a few tweaks to his existing app, such as rebranding it under his client’s name and connecting it to a different workflow. But then it was ready to go. “That was a real eye opener on how quickly you could do that,” said Dallas. He added that normally he would have a spreadsheet within AppSheet populated with the barcodes from all the devices and accessories to be used at the event. But everything came together so quickly for the Royal Wedding that the app used for this particular event didn’t include any raw data. So the crew had to book the radios into the app as they were issuing them to users. “I thought [it] was actually amazing from AppSheet’s point of view that they were able to do that with so many different transactions,” said Dallas. “And it worked!” Reading barcodes will become even more efficient with AppSheet’s new Near Field Communication capabilities, he added. NFC enables two devices to communicate only when one is in short proximity of the other. “I’m already talking to somebody about the prospect of self-service in managing these things,” said Dallas, noting that NFC opens up a treasure trove of new possibilities for AppSheet users. More importantly, the AppSheet-powered app enabled Dallas’s client to recover 100 percent of his equipment following the Royal Wedding. Radio users take returns more seriously when they know you’re keeping track of them, says Dallas. The AppSheet app delivers instant alerts to end users when they receive their devices. Once a customer returns all the devices it used for an event, the AppSheet app sends them a single email letting them know that too. That’s far more effective than sending multiple emails, which may cause end users to ignore those communications, he adds. Dallas found AppSheet about three years ago to help a client that was losing a lot of radios at various events. Sometimes the client wouldn’t recover his radios until they were handed back to him three years later at a subsequent event, he said. Initially, Dallas attempted to use Excel to keep track of radios and accessories. Then he tried a Microsoft database. But neither one was particularly user friendly, he said. What Dallas really wanted was a mobile app to do the job, because virtually everybody carries a mobile phone these days. He considered several app solutions, but ultimately selected AppSheet. “Something on AppSheet just caught my eye,” he said. “And I thought ‘Well, that’s interesting.’ And it did more than I had anticipated. “It works so well for me that I don’t see how it could be any better,” he added. That’s quite a testament from a chap who never liked programming. Although Dallas earned electrical and mechanical engineering degrees from the University of Glasgow, he always avoided coding at school. “I’m rubbish at coding, basically,” said Dallas. “With AppSheet, it’s all expressions, you don’t have to code at all.” In addition to the Royal Wedding app, Dallas and his assistant use an AppSheet app for invoicing. His assistant inputs details of his engagements, and the app sends invoices. The app changes colors to display what clients and jobs have and have not yet paid. Dallas has even begun selling the apps he’s created with the AppSheet platform. The first one was for asset management. And the sound engineer of a famous U.K. singer recently commissioned Dallas to create an app to manage his stock. To date, Dallas has used the AppSheet platform to build 23 apps. And if you thought his Royal Wedding experience was interesting, hold on to your fascinator! (I mean hat!) Dallas also has created an app that he and his roommate use to let each other know if their three cats have been fed. When one of them sets out the feline morsels, they press a button on their mobile, and the other receives an alert. He even gifted one of his pals with her own app for her 40th birthday. “It’s called Mandy’s App,” Dallas explained. “She’s always falling out with people. And when she falls out with people, she can always make a note of who’s in her bad book…. And she can issue violations to people.” That’s a pretty good story from my vantage point. But Royal Wedding watchers probably want to hear more about his time at Windsor Castle. That’s understandable. So here’s a bit more commentary on that. “It was quite exciting, to be honest with you,” he said. “I was right next to the chapel. It was amazing. I saw George Clooney and all the stars arriving. It was quite overwhelming actually.” Perhaps the most memorable moment for Dallas actually came a day after the Royal Wedding. He was decommissioning gear at the Queen’s residence, and he saw the newlyweds depart.

How to Make an Inspection App

Inspections are part of the bread and butter of any field service worker. However, a lot of field workers are still forced to use archaic means to document and record their data. Many companies are looking to mobile apps to not only streamline the process, but make data more readily available throughout companies. Today, we’ll take a look at one of the most popular uses for AppSheet. Businesses of all types live and die by the soundness of their inspection processes. It comes as no surprise then that many businesses use our no-code platform to design powerful, flexible, and agile apps for their inspection processes. It’s time to move on from tracking your inspections on a spreadsheet or—gasp!—with pen and paper. This post looks at how you can use AppSheet to create an inspections app from data stored in Google Sheets that will work on mobile, tablet, and your computer.  Here are the basics of the inspection app we’ll build today: it automates data capture (machine ID, images, and signature etc), pre-fills form fields, and sends notifications through email and Slack. The app is NFC-enabled and includes a bar code scanner, so inspectors won’t have to manually enter machine IDs.  You can check out a pre-built inspection app by clicking on the button below. Keep reading to learn the major steps to building the app so that you can customize it for your own unique processes (we've also included a link to our video series for you to follow along!) Finally, take a moment to watch the recordings of a webinar for an even deeper-dive into the creation of this app. Step 1: Check columns and form settings Launch AppSheet from the Google Sheet add-on: AppSheet will read the column names and pre-set data to the correct types, i.e., Text, Image, Date, Signature etc. Clean up the data and create views: We created an Audit View where auditors can enter responses to all questions about the machines, and a Repair View for the maintenance/technician team to fill out. Adds, updates, deletes: Configure data access so that only certain people can delete data. Step 2: Ensure fast data capture Auto-capture: Audit ID, Auditor Email, and Audit Date are set to auto-capture. Hidden fields and views: Make sure that certain fields or views are hidden if you don't want auditors to edit them. By default, Repair Description field and Repair View are hidden. They are only visible when a machine fails an audit. Drop-down list and auto-fill: Instead of manually typing the Machine ID, inspectors can select an ID from a drop-down list or scan the bar code or NFC tag. Once the Machine ID is entered, Machine Type will be auto-filled. Machine Issue field also has a drop-down list. Auditors can select multiple issues that need to be fixed or add new issues. Divide a long form into 2 sections (Audit and Repair), create slices and views accordingly:  It is much easier to use tabs to navigate a long form. Only show active machines: Those are the ones that need regular inspections. Data filtering: auditors will only see relevant data in repair view. Step 3: Enable notifications Automatically send an email after a new audit is complete. Push Slack notifications when a machine doesn't pass an audit. In your email, you can include everything or just a summary of an audit. For more details, check out these webinars (click on Show More to find time stamps on a certain topic that interests you): AppSheet Office Hours S2E6 AppSheet Office Hours S2E7  

TARMAC Taps AppSheet for a Different Kind of Construction – App Creation

TARMAC traces its history back to 1903. But the company is not stuck in the past. It continues to advance and innovate to make its products and processes better and more efficient. One way TARMAC is doing that is by using apps it created with the AppSheet platform. The parent company of TARMAC, CRH, is among the top international construction material suppliers in the world. TARMAC itself is the UK’s largest building materials supplier. It has more than 6,900 employees, 120 quarries, 100 concrete plants, and 74 asphalt plants. TARMAC serves construction companies, end users, highway networks, location councils, and suppliers like Marshalls, the UK's leading hard landscaping manufacturer. And it wants to make sure its materials deliver the performance its customers expect and regulators require. So a few years ago TARMAC created the role of a site technician to conduct on-site audits. These site technicians conduct site audits to assess the level of service, the suitability and quality of the materials supplied and the workmanship of the laying contractors. That includes assessing whether the materials procured are the most suitable for their intended use. Site preparation and organisation, along with equipment used and site practice are also key considerations. For example, site technicians consider how the workers at the location lay, compact, and otherwise interact with the TARMAC materials. By considering, and scoring, both materials and the “contracting gang” (as construction work crews are called in the UK) factors, TARMAC can understand how its deliverables are performing and why, says Andy Foddy. “When TARMAC first established the site technician role and instituted these audits, the techs recorded their observations on paper forms,” says Andy, TARMAC’s technical optimisation manager. “They would later re-enter that information digitally, either at a computer in the office or using a smartphone-tethered to their PC in their vehicle.” Andy wanted to streamline that process. At first he considered using Google Forms. But Google Forms lacked offline capabilities, he says. And connectivity wasn’t always available at the remote locations site technicians needed to visit. So Andy did an internet search and found AppSheet. “The company’s platform supports applications that work even when connectivity is not available,” says Andy. “Apps built with AppSheet can cache information on the device, and when a connection becomes available, the user can sync the app, which uploads the record to the back-end database [Google Sheets].” Andy ported the TARMAC application he began working on using Google Forms to the AppSheet platform to build the current mobile app. Site technicians at a couple locations trialed the solution and provided positive feedback, says Andy. So TARMAC became an AppSheet customer. Over time Andy has expanded the functionality of TARMAC’s initial application. The application described above now captures the site technician’s location using Google Maps. Andy says that’s helpful because in the UK postcodes exist only for urban locations. So if you’re in a remote area, latitude and longitude locations points from Google Maps are the only way to pinpoint a position on a road and find the same spot in the future. Auto reporting is another big benefit of the initial TARMAC AppSheet-powered app, says Andy. This feature triggers an email to all the people associated with the material being audited once the site technician submits the scoring form. And the site technician can attach photos of the site to illustrate any particularly good or troublesome situations that need to be highlighted. “Today about 20 people use this app daily for data entry, but their scoring information is shared with the appropriate line-managers across the aggregates and asphalt division in TARMAC,” Andy says. “That allows for more efficient data sharing within the company so TARMAC leaders can make quicker decisions/product corrections when needed and have more evidence-based conversations with their customers.” Andy has also used AppSheet to build some new apps. That includes an application that’s similar to the original one. But this newer application is focused on premium TARMAC products that feature special customer guarantees.  Other apps Andy created – all built with AppSheet’s Platform – include the following. An app used to support customer complaint investigations: This online questionnaire provides a standard set of questions TARMAC employees use to ask customers who have filed complaints. A complaint cost calculator app to estimate the cost of each complaint: This app is a mobile version of a spreadsheet that was created in one of TARMAC’s regions. The spreadsheet uses a number of drop-downs/user selections to estimate the potential remedial costs involved – mainly based on product quantity and surface area of the road affected. Before rolling out this app nationally, TARMAC intends to further develop it to address a broader range of circumstances. An app that tracks how TARMAC materials perform over time: Andy says that this one is currently in the prototype stage. An app that can report on site conditions. TARMAC launched this one a few months ago. At the moment the app is pretty basic, as it only looks at weather conditions. But the aim is to expand on the app so TARMAC can adapt its products based on their performance in various environmental conditions. Some AppSheet users create their apps based on the many sample apps available by industry sector or use case. But Andy had some technical expertise and knew what he wanted to do and, for the most part, how he wanted to accomplish it. So he took a do-it-yourself approach. When Andy had a question, he just emailed AppSheet’s CEO and engineering staff for their input. Noting the time difference between UK-based TARMAC and Seattle-based AppSheet, Andy says he would generally receive an answer the next day. Speaking of user support, Andy adds that AppSheet was very responsive when he suggested the company provide how-videos for its customers. AppSheet provides user documentation and help guides. But Andy says if you’re trying to do something very specific and unique with your app, general guides don’t always work. So AppSheet has begun producing video guides on topics like how to use the company’s platform to implement independent drop-downs or how to trigger multiple actions from a single button in the app. "Using AppSheet has allowed us to be flexible with our app creation rather than being tied to a specification at the outset," says Andy. "Sometimes you don't know what you want until you've tested it in the field. So we've been able to change, adapt and react to user feedback at the same time as adding new features to improve the user experience. Overall a great product."

Using AppSheet to Manage Materials Engineering and Testing

There is little room for error in the materials engineering and testing space, where a mistake like misinterpreting your data or losing track of your equipment can delay a project and ruin a client relationship. Your back-end systems have to be on point at all times. Reducing risk through apps Many companies in this space — like Canadian Construction Materials Engineering & Testing Inc. (CCMET), formally Metro Testing Group — are building apps to modernize their processes and reduce risk. As CCMET Tech Innovations Lead and App Maker Joseph Romualdez explained, traditional paper and spreadsheet-based data entry systems are fragile and risky, and not optimal for daily record keeping and management. “I recognized the potential for error that existed with this system early on,” Romualdez said. “So I searched online, found AppSheet and knew immediately that this was what we needed.” How CCMET Uses AppSheet Despite only having a working knowledge of Java, Romualdez was able to create multiple apps using AppSheet’s no code app maker platform. CCMET is using AppSheet for: Tracking shotcrete panels: Shotcrete panels, which the company uses to test concrete at client locations, are typically very expensive. They can easily be mistaken as trash, though, and thrown out. CCMET created an app that allows technicians to track shotcrete panels using pictures and notes, which saves money while enabling them to document and track their assets. Filing safety forms and recording equipment calibration data: AppSheet helped CCMET obtain Certificate of Recognition certification by increasing the amount of Field Level Risk Assessment (FLRA) submissions filed every day—a 10-fold increase! Having an electronic-based form removes a lot of work and time in filing and processing the forms. Before using AppSheet, CCMET was using paper-based field level risk assessment (FLRA) forms and vehicle and equipment inspection forms. After completing a FLRA form, the technician had to go back to the office to submit to another person for filing and processing. Now, when technicians in the field file an FLRA through a safety app, the safety officer can review the data in seconds.  Besides FLRA, CCMET also uses the safety app for Construction Personal Protective Equipment safety, equipment and vehicle inspections. One other widely used app at CCMET is the Equipment Calibration App. CCMET has lots of equipment, which has to be calibrated every one to three months. Different equipment is managed by different technicians. Before using AppSheet, technicians had to enter the calibration data into a form and submit the form to the manager. This app helps streamline data entry and approval, and ensure greater accuracy when entering equipment calibration data, which is a step that is considered mission critical for safety and compliance. Technician reports: In the past, technicians needed to return to the office to complete field assessment reports. Now, these reports can be completed on-site in an app — even without WiFi. AppSheet, it should be noted, is also helping bridge the technology gap that exists between the company’s younger and older workers. “AppSheet provides a platform that is easy to create with and easy to use,” Romualdez pointed out. “Many technicians here are weary of using new technologies. But having an app that is nice on the eyes and easy to operate really helps us.” To learn more how your company can benefit from AppSheet, click here.  

AppSheet: A Must-Have Tool for Entrepreneurs

Courtesy of The Wright Gardner Just about every entrepreneur can relate to the feeling of acquiring a small business, and realizing its technology is stuck in the pre-internet era. This is something that my team experienced firsthand when we purchased The Wright Gardner last year — a San Francisco-based company that designs, sells, leases and maintains interior plants for clients throughout northern California. Immediately after closing, my team and I went to work understanding the nuts and bolts of the company’s operations. We quickly found that our paper-based systems, while functional, were inefficient, and presented serious risks to the company. We quickly moved to modernize our systems by migrating data into the cloud and implementing G Suite, Asana, Slack, and a few other simple management applications. With Google, though, we ran into a challenge. We were using Sheets as our main database for processing critical data like client information, schedules, and service logs. While Sheets is great for some things, it doesn’t scale well. It’s also fragile, and not mobile-friendly. Try manually entering data into a spreadsheet over your phone. It’s not fun. We started looking for ways to make it easier and safer for employees to enter data into Sheets. And this is how we discovered AppSheet. With AppSheet, I was able to design a simple and user-friendly app that our workers could use to input and modify operational records in Sheets. It’s made our operations much faster, more intuitive and secure, and has drastically reduced the administrative burden we put on our team members. What’s great, too, is that I designed the app in no time at all. While it did take some time to build our data framework, the process of designing the app only took a few hours — and I’m not even a developer! While I have some experience in Java and C++, that doesn’t mean I had the time, energy or desire to build a solution from scratch, and then maintain it. As a business owner, I just wanted an affordable and reliable app that we could use to run our business. And that’s exactly what I found with AppSheet. Here are some ways that we are using AppSheet on a daily basis: Scheduling: Scheduling and coordinating our service visits was a big challenge for us at first. Before AppSheet, we had one person who basically devoted half of their time to scheduling — at least 20 hours per week. Now, we schedule three times as many people in 15-20 minutes. Communicating: We continue to expand, onboard new team members, and evolve our organizational structure. As we grow, it’s vital for everyone to have a directory with current team member information. Now, we store organizational and team member information right inside of AppSheet for easy access. Customer information: AppSheet also allows our employees to quickly access and update client information, providing a single point of truth that drastically reduces the incidence of costly mistakes and allows us to automatically error-proof our operations. This has been essential in managing a larger book of business with the same core staff and with fewer mistakes. What I love most about AppSheet is that, as a Main Street entrepreneur (see my article on this: From Unicorns to Main Street: Why Small Business is the Next Big Thing), I could use AppSheet to digitize and operate almost any imaginable business process for any type of business. AppSheet provides the tools required to collect, process, disseminate, and act on business data and to easily implement robust and scalable business processes in a mobile app. Make no mistake about it: AppSheet is a must-have tool for entrepreneurs, and I couldn’t imagine running our business without it today.   About Nick Haschka Nick Haschka is the CEO of The Wright Gardner (TWG), a San Francisco-based interior plant company offering sales, leasing, and service of interior office plants, flowers, and horticultural decor to a wide variety of commercial office and real estate clients throughout Northern California. He's also a co-founder of Cub Investments, a private equity partnership that acquires and operates successful small businesses undergoing a generational change-of-ownership. Visit TheWrightGardner.com or Follow Nick on LinkedIn

How 1-800-GOT-JUNK? Streamlines Junk Removal with a Fleet Management App

  What do old appliances, used office furniture and broken televisions all have in common? Eventually, big, bulky objects need to get thrown out. And this can be a difficult task.  For help, companies and consumers in the Washington, DC metro area rely on my 1-800-GOT-JUNK business. We help DC-area customers remove unwanted materials responsibly, conveniently and affordably. My team makes the process look simple, but as it turns out, it’s actually a complicated process that requires a high level of backend orchestration. Time is of the essence Running a junk removal franchise is no small task and the efficient service we provide does not happen automatically. Pick up crews, after all, have a tiny window of time to arrive at a job site and complete their work. Think about it for a minute: you schedule a day and time you want your junk removed, tell us what we’re hauling, and expect us to show up for a collection. But we have 19 trucks serving hundreds of customers on a weekly basis, and it takes a great deal of coordination between all of my managers and drivers to make sure our jobs get accomplished on time. That’s a lot of trucks and drivers to keep track of! Making matters more complicated, transit times and pick-ups can be hard to predict and there are many different factors to consider throughout the day. Jobs can go longer or shorter than expected, drivers can get lost or delayed in transit, or customers may forget about their appointments.  Data makes the world go ‘round Leveraging real-time data is therefore the key to meeting our customer service commitments. So to streamline our process, we started using two tools. One is Pipeline, which automates scheduling and route planning, and the other is Results.com, which is an integrated framework that breaks down the entire business into small pieces and displays them over an interactive dashboard. We thought this would be all we needed to transform our operation overnight. But shortly after setting up Results.com last February, we realized that we were still missing a crucial piece of the puzzle: access to real-time operational data. There was no integration between the scheduling and business management platforms so we were unable to track productivity in real-time. This was a big problem. AppSheet to the rescue  You see, in the junk removal business, most of the data we collect has a shelf life. Insight that could be extremely valuable to my team at 1 p.m., for example, driver availability or route optimization data, may be useless by the time it gets reported and analyzed in an end of day report. By itself, Results.com was incapable of providing my team with the real-time fleet tracking that we needed to operate our business efficiently. So I decided to build a solution and integrate it myself, went to Google, entered “iPhone app connected to spreadsheet” and found AppSheet. Using AppSheet, I was able to quickly and easily create a fleet management app that allows my drivers to enter data from their mobile phones throughout the day. This app works in conjunction with Pipeline, and funnels data directly into our Results.com dashboard. Now we have a closed loop system with all the data we need to react to issues (like bad traffic delaying a scheduled pick-up) in real-time. Check out this video to see how these 3 products work together. The results Our AppSheet app helps my team work smarter throughout the day, so they can complete jobs faster and meet our customers’ expectations. Now, as soon as pick-ups begin at 8 a.m., we can see exactly how much projected revenue is expected for the day. And as the day progresses, we can see exactly where drivers are in their schedules. This allows us to identify unique opportunities for completing jobs faster.  For example, a manager can use the app to change the order of a job and alert a crew in the field. Say, for instance, that a driver has two jobs to do on the same street — one at 10 a.m., and another at 2 p.m. The manager could use the app to try and bump up the latter customer’s pick-up time. This eliminates backtracking, saving time and gas, and frees our drivers up to take on even more jobs. There is also a bonus plan that is directly tied into productivity. The more that my field crews know about where they are in the day, and how close they are to reaching their goals, the easier they can project how much extra bonus they are going to get. Our AppSheet app allows them to visualize how they are performing and what they need to do for an extra bonus — a win-win for everyone as more jobs are completed and drivers get rewarded for how much they’re able to accomplish in a given day.   If I can make an app, you can too I didn’t rely on anyone for the app design process. I figured it out on my own, which — for someone with no coding experience — is a testament to how great an app maker platform it is. I am pretty good working with spreadsheets, and that’s enough to be able to work with AppSheet. One of the great things about AppSheet is that it allows you to see your app as you’re making it. I was really amazed at the integration between AppSheet’s simulator and the input data — this made rapid prototyping easy. This feature alone helped me figure out how to build my solution as I was able to perform a test, see the result, change it and repeat. I have been super happy and impressed with AppSheet since the first time I used it. It’s made my data much more visible, and actionable, which gives me a big advantage over my competitors.  I can’t imagine running my business without it. So if you have ever thought about making an app for your business, it’s time to stop making excuses. Go out and try AppSheet for yourself today. You’ll thank me later!   Want to share your app experience? We'll help you do it! We'll interview you and write it for you. Or you can write your own post and become a guest writer on AppSheet's blog.

This User's Mobile Apps are Helping Produce Safe and Reliable Farm Products

  Zane Schwendiman is the Operations and Administrative Assistant* at Zen-Noh Hay, Inc,  a hay processing facility located in Pasco, WA. Zen-Noh Hay’s services include feed milling, on-farm consulting and brand development, food processing and packaging, transportation and logistics, fuels, and many more. According to the company’s website, its primary goal is to “provide Japanese consumers with domestically produced farm products that are safe, reliable, and of impeccable quality.” In order to do so, Zen-Noh must be sure its operations are running via the most efficient and up-to-date methods. The Operations team noticed some of the processes were a bit antiquated-- namely, those by which employees were tracking inventory transfers and entering customer purchase agreements. Prior to finding Appsheet, the team recorded the information on paper and then later manually entered it into the computer. A laborious-- and potentially error-prone process indeed. Zane found AppSheet via Smartsheet’s integrations offerings. He experimented with the platform and soon realized he could accomplish all of the previously paper-based tasks with a couple mobile apps he built himself. He says, “creating the apps using Appsheet wa very intuitive and even though no coding is required the functionality offered by Appsheet is very impressive.” The apps allow the Operations team to see inventory movement and new purchases in near real time; and the offline feature allows them to safeguard information when there is no signal available. Those features are especially useful in the large geographic area the company covers and in large warehouses where connectivity is erratic. As Zane remarks, “the information is readily available now and does not have to be relayed from paper into a computer, and eliminates one more step that could cause errors.” Now that Zane and the rest of the team can see the benefits their apps have brought to the company as a whole, he’s working on an additional app to track sales agreements. He says, “We have enjoyed using Appsheet and continue to look for additional use cases that allow even more efficiency and process improvements.” *Zane is no longer working with Zen-Noh Hay, but continues working with the company for further implementations.

App Innovator: Dan Hudson with South Texas Solar Systems Inc.

Dan Hudson-- an Operations Manager at South Texas Solar Systems Inc.-- has spent the bulk of his career finding ways to run businesses more efficiently. So when it was time to find a solution for data entry and collaboration in the field, Dan’s past experience was put to work. South Texas Solar Systems Inc. sells and installs solar systems to residential and commercial customers. Dan is in charge of permitting, electrical and panel installation scheduling, ordering materials, hiring personnel, and business development; his field employees handle installation and data management of those jobs. There must be a way that Dan and his personnel can communicate and share data while Dan’s in the office and the others are out in the field. For Texas Solar, affordability and efficiency are key. Dan needed to find a solution that could tailor to their specific needs, in addition to one that was affordable and that would work well in conjunction with their existing processes and software. He found Smartsheet to be the best product for the job. Dan then found AppSheet through the Smartsheet ecosystem and realized he could integrate his Smartsheet data into powerful mobile apps. Field employees could then use the mobile app to enter data that would always be in sync with the spreadsheets, and most importantly-- reach Dan in real time. The app uses great features like the color type to give visual job status indicators. It also takes advantage of the file type to include job information via downloadable PDFs in the app. A convenient map view allows Dan and his technicians to communicate about job locations. Before finding AppSheet, the data collection and sharing process was a bit arbitrary and disorganized. “Before it was a mess. We had to be chasing down the crews to figure out what was being done at times, but the biggest problem was the crews not having access to system customer information out in the field.” Since implementing AppSheet, Texas Solar has seen a huge increase in productivity and performance. “The use of AppSheet has most certainly made my job and that of field personnel a lot easier. It has increased efficiency and decreased downtime.”   Have a great story, too? Tell us for a chance to be our next App Innovator!

App Innovator: Ernie Carrillo with the City of Vallejo, CA

Ernie Carrillo is a pipe mechanic for the City of Vallejo in Northern California. He works for the Preventive Maintenance department, which includes maintenance on fire hydrants, backflow-preventer testing and repair, leak detection, water main flushing, water sampling, hydrant flow tests, among other duties-- tasks that ensure Vallejo's underlying water systems are working properly for its 117,000 residents. Ernie is also the lead manager of the city's Asset Maintenance and Management System. Every day, Ernie collects seemingly endless data points in Excel spreadsheets, on everything from water test results, to inventory levels, to fire hydrant data, to installation location information. Because Excel is the database standard adopted across the entire department, Ernie was looking for a way to mobilize his work without needing to change the way he or his team currently manage their data. That's when he found AppSheet. Before, he and his team were collecting all of their data on paper and transcribing it to Excel later on. Using AppSheet, Ernie created a few mobile apps he uses for the various tasks he performs each day. The apps help him accomplish his work in the field much more efficiently as he can input information into a tablet that goes straight back to the main office immediately. He says the most significant impact of his apps has been in enabling the department to go completely paperless for the majority of its operations, as well as saving tons of time in the transcription process. And with reduced chances for human error, the department runs much more effectively. "By streamlining our collection methods, and eliminating the duplication of effort, AppSheet will improve our productivity and reduce data entry errors which has been a huge problem in our office," he says. If you would like to be featured as our App Innovator of the Week, please send an email to julia@appsheet.com for consideration.

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