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What is HACCP? 7 Key Principles and Process Management Explained

What is HACCP? 7 Key Principles and Process Management Explained Get the HACCP Inspections template What is HACCP? | Principles and Process Management HACCP (Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Point) is a globally recognized food safety management standard that requires businesses to apply guidelines, procedures, and principles to ensure food safety from raw material manufacturing right up to consumption. The U.S Food and Drug Administration organization (FDA) has outlined the HACCP protocol to be applied on all vital food process checkpoints to analyze and eliminate threats of any biological, chemical, or physical hazards at all times.   What makes a HACCP plan successful? Before delving into HACCP’s seven principles, it is crucial to understand the foundations of a successful HACCP implementation. The first step is to have the support and commitment from upper management which then translates into a greater focus and priority on food safety down-the-line to employees. Furthermore, employees may be required to undergo a series of prerequisite programs such as current Good Manufacturing Practices (cGMPs) and several others. Other program line-ups can include areas such as: Individual cleanliness Establishment of facilities Verification of qualified suppliers Material labeling guidelines Management of manufacturing equipment Cleaning standards and schedules Employee roles in the HACCP program Managing chemicals to prevent contamination Proper storage, transportation and handling of materials Tracing and recovery of products Prevention of pests After accomplishing this, the company needs to settle five preparatory assignments before applying the seven principles to a HACCP plan. Preparatory assignment one — Build the HACCP core team The HACCP core team should be comprised of stakeholders with specialized experience related to the manufacturing system and the final edible product. Employees from fields such as operations, engineering, manufacturing, hygiene, science, quality assurance, and safety can be part of this team. At times, this team may require external experts to step in for domain-specific knowledge. Even when this happens, the core members are require to work closely and take ownership of the HACCP plan. Preparatory assignment two — Create a clear description on the food product and delivery The food product is to be clearly detailed by the HACCP core team. Details can contain manufacturing procedures, ingredients, and types of food involved. The food delivery technique should inform whether the needs to be distributed at room temperature, chilled, or frozen. Preparatory assignment three — Elaborate on the food product usage and its consumers The HACCP team will need to make known the type of consumers involved: children, adults, patients, and so on. Also, they will need to mention how the product is to be consumed.  Preparatory assignment four — Construct a flow diagram that explains the procedures The intention of this flow diagram is to offer a brief idea on the stages to manage the HACCP plan process. The team is to include the areas where checkpoints are to be observed and handled. The simple graphical map can include the pre, during, and after production areas.    Preparatory assignment five — Validate the flow diagram. It is essential for the HACCP team to validate what is assembled in the flow diagram. This ensures the correctness of what is written. When amendments are required, the team can better jot down and manage changes that arise. The Seven Principles of HACCP Once the obligatory prerequisite programs and five preparatory assignments are completed, a firm is ready to administer a HACCP plan. As articulated by FDA, HACCP’s orderly approach is grounded by seven principles. These standards govern the identification, assessment, and management of food safety dangers. Principle one: Put into action a hazard and risk analysis plan Here is where the HACCP team assesses the manufacturing processes and circles out the risks as well as hazards. These threats can include chemical, metal, toxins and even biological contamination. It is very important that the team leverage top-notch expertise to identify these risks. This hazard and risk assessment is finalized in two stages. First, the team must identify what can cause such hazards. Next, the team must determine the level of threat of the hazard. Once these two stages are completed, they can proceed to circle out the critical control points to be managed. Principle two: Ascertain the critical control points (CCPs) CCPs involve identification of areas in the production process in order to deter hazards from occurring. Hence, these are known as critical control points. The HACCP team must list ways to place deterrents to prevent risks from occurring.  Principle three: Identify critical limits After the CCPs are identified, the team must identify critical limits for maintaining healthy environments (e.g. chlorine, salt, acidity levels). If anything goes beyond what is the set normal levels, corrective actions will need to be implemented immediately. Principle four: Put monitoring processes in place This step contributes to the effectiveness of the HACCP program set. Monitoring processes can consist of automated or human observations in set time frames. Proper monitoring enables the team to act quickly when hazardous limits are reached.  Principle five: Begin remedial arrangements. For every CCP identified, the team needs to plan remedial steps. Corrective steps involve determining and solving the root cause of the issue. Strong preparation allows for rapid crisis management when hazardous contamination occurs. Principle six: Establish verification procedures After remedial arrangements are set up, the HACCP team can verify whatever has been set. This helps to ensure that the plan is in adherence to the HACCP system. With this principle, impartial independent authorities can step in to determine if the HACCP plan meets standards.  Principle seven: Begin tracking and documenting steps Finally, all processes and CCPs need to be tracked, stored, and easily traced in order to meet regulatory criteria. The team will need to determine what details are to be recorded.  To find out what is required to be included in this step, visit here. How to Digitize HACCP Processes If you've been tasked with implementing HACCP programs at your company, you want to explore digitizing your management processes. Once you have clarity on the processes you are running, you can incorporate different applications to run those processes more efficiently.  Food manufacturers and distributors around the world are using AppSheet to build their own web and mobile apps without code to to keep their operations safe, efficient, and productive.  We created a sample application for HACCP tracking. You can copy this HACCP app and get the underlying data and modify it to fit your process. If you're interested in building your own HACCP management app, get started creating your app by starting directly from your own data using a standard spreadsheet (e.g. Google Sheet, Excel on O365/Dropbox/Box, or Smartsheet). You can build your own functional app within just a few hours. Watch the video below for additional ideas on how to make an app!      

What is 5S? [Lean Manufacturing Guide]

What is 5S? Sort, Set, Shine, Standardize, Sustain [Lean Manufacturing Guide] Get and test templates for 5S Audits There’s a good chance you’ve come across the term 5S at some point or another. We've created this short guide to help you better understand the basic aspects of 5S principles. Learn how to implement these practices by using mobile and web apps that work directly with your spreadsheet and databases.  The 5S Methodology The 5S methodology originated from the manufacturing technique developed through the Toyota Production System. The heads of the Toyota Motor Company created a clear and distinct set of actions that would improve the quality of products and services offered to the public.  5S is closely related to the Toyota Production System. Both models work to create positive outcomes from untidiness, chaos, and disorganization in the workplace. By training employees to follow a more productive routine and utilizing the right equipment for the job, factories can substantially reduce unnecessary waste. The primary aim of 5S is to generate these minor positive changes throughout the company’s everyday procedures. 5S Elements Explained 5S is a methodology more commonly known in western cultures as “Lean Manufacturing” or just “Lean." Technically, however, 5S is slightly different from Lean Manufacturing. 5S is a way of coordinating the workspace so that employees not only produce better results, but also practice and maintain safer working conditions. Businesses large and small from every industry can adopt the 5S method to optimize their operations, do away with clutter, and promote better cleanliness and organization. Let’s look at each element of the 5S approach in more detail. 1: Sort (Seiri) The purpose of Sort is to help categorize resources by priority. Think of it as a super-detailed stock audit where front-line workers find, identify, and sort machinery, supplies, and even basic office stationery. After organizing each set of items, employees must answer key questions for each item in question including: access/security for an item, importance of a particular business operation, and whether or not the item could be upgraded to something more fitting. Once the usefulness of each item has been calculated, there are several options regarding which action should be taken. The item could either be transferred to a more appropriate division, stripped down for parts, placed in storage for later use, or put up for sale. In a situation where certain articles of company resources can’t be clearly defined as useful or useless, the item can be “red-tagged." Place an informative note on the item with details such as when it was categorized, who evaluated it, where it was situated, and any other relevant information. After a designated amount of time has passed, items from the “red tag area” can be re-evaluated to determine whether or not they should be kept. 2: Set in Order (Seiton) Now, it will be a lot simpler to begin the process of organizing everything that employees have at their disposal. Each person’s requirements should clearly delineate which items they’ll need in order to do their job. A logical pattern of where and how to store resources should begin to surface. Better organization will help create less waste. Prime examples of avoidable waste include product imperfections, excessive time expenditure, surplus resource management, unnecessary movement, unsuitable employee skill allocation, and excess inventory. Much like an athlete stays lean and only carries the body fat they require to function adequately, this part of lean manufacturing can be thought of as the process of optimally storing and utilizing a company’s resources. 3: Shine (Seiso) This is one of simplest, yet often most underestimated aspects of a high-functioning operation. A fundamental component of a well-oiled machine is making sure that everything is neat and tidy. Keeping a clean working environment is crucial for running a smooth workflow, as well as strengthening employee morale. Repairing and looking after machinery, tools, and other equipment is also a part of this stage. In addition to having good cleaning staff, each and every employee should also pay attention to how they manage their work station. If every person helps make their surroundings a little bit cleaner and safer, there will be less waste and a lower potential for injuries and hazardous accidents. 4: Standardize (Seiketsu) In the standardize phase, employees must turn these new practices into a consistent mindset and repeated actions. Without consistent reinforcement of these principles, it is easy for factory conditions to devolve. These patterns of maintenance and cleanup need to be ingrained into the everyday behavior of every employee. It can be helpful to set up schedules, diagrams, notes, charts, reminders, and checklists to assert the importance of a functional and well-structured system. Setting high standards and holding yourself and employees to them is the mark of any significantly successful endeavor. 5: Sustain (Shitzuke) A quality business model has to be based on a long-term vision. Reaching the company objectives means looking ahead and doing whatever it takes to achieve those goals. The standard of how the business is run doesn’t just need to be managed, it needs to be updated regularly as well. Every employee has to be driven to conscientiously put their best foot forward on a daily basis. As the rate of change in the business world continues to accelerate, executives and employees alike must stay vigilant of changes and adopt a healthy growth mindset. How 5S Fits Within The Kaizen Philosophy 5S is an approach that falls within a bigger philosophy called Kaizen, which is a Japanese term that translates to “continuous improvement”. It’s a principle adopted in the business world that is designed to maximize the efficiency of the workplace, as well as the overall morale of the employees.  Kaizen a concept that encourages white-collar and blue-collar employees alike to adopt ownership mindsets toward the company’s mission. It involves establishing a team-oriented way of thinking, evolving methods of daily operations, improving employee fulfillment, and ensuring a safe working environment.  5S is a very important component within this philosophy because it helps achieve the primary objectives of Kaizen such as: Teamwork: Every employee should be dedicated to helping each other successfully complete their tasks. Each individual should think of themselves as part of a larger unit that requires cooperation and dedication to put forth the best results possible. Discipline: Instill a sense of responsibility in each employee so that they are committed to doing their job in a timely and accurately manner. Everyone must accept accountability for their role in the company so that order can be established and weak links can be fortified wherever necessary. Morale: Management should construct positive reinforcement techniques to inspire employees to work harder and smarter. This could include forming a more comfortable work environment, more frequent opportunities for promotions, medical aid, end-of-year bonuses, or even gym memberships. Quality circles: Setting up meetings where employees can collaborate with one another and discuss pertinent concepts, methods, or skill sets will help each person better assess each individual’s abilities, strengths, and shortcomings. 5S and Six Sigma 5S and Six Sigma are often linked to each other, even though there a few differences between them. However, both can be used to achieve improved productivity in the workplace. Six Sigma is a controlled, methodical tactic designed to form an ongoing improvement strategy to minimize waste and imperfection, and maximize efficiency and productivity. These methods aim to advance the standard operating procedure to limit faults in the manufacturing system, and increase the caliber of the end product as well as the tasks that are performed in the process. While Lean Manufacturing focuses more on enhancing the organization of a company, Six Sigma is more oriented towards getting rid of product defects by following a thorough business plan.  In comparison to the 5S system, Six Sigma supports another very similar approach: Recognize, Define, Measure, Analyze, Improve, Control, Standardize, and Integrate. Digitize 5S processes.  If you've been tasked with implementing 5S or 5S audits at your company, consider digitizing your management processes. Manufacturers around the world are use AppSheet to build their own web and mobile apps without code to to keep their operations safe, efficient, and productive.  Check out the manufacturing audits app below to learn more:  Our sample Job Site Safety app is another app that can help you achieve your 5S methodology. The app was originally designed for construction companies, but can be customized to help track accidents and near-misses at manufacturing sites as well.

How AppSheet Employees Use AppSheet to Power Their Business

We're proud to be the team behind AppSheet. But our pride comes not from building, selling or marketing the platform, but from using it. No one on the sales or marketing team at AppSheet has an engineering background. Yet when we join the company, our first task is to create an app with the platform and present it to the rest of the team. Understanding the process as a citizen developer is one of the most important aspects of our work. To that end, we've created a number of apps to power our work at AppSheet headquarters. A sort of "perfect circle of efficiency", if you will. In this post we're highlighting a few apps our team has created that helps make our day-to-day easier. We've created over a dozen apps so far for the AppSheet business. These apps are bundled together in what's called the "AppSheet Suite". These apps cover support, operations, project management, content creation, and more.  One of our most oft-used apps is the Employee Directory. It contains the contact information for every employee in the company. The list can be viewed by department (Engineering, Sales, Marketing) and can be edited as we add new faces to our team. You can make your own version by copying our sample app using the button below:   Another popular in-house app is the "Project Planner". Our Product Marketing Manager uses it as a way to organize daily tasks, including short and long-term objectives. The app displays the status of projects and their timeline to completion, color-coded for convenience. Employees can also add new tasks or share it with others who can leave comments. Our marketing team has found this app to be very useful when we are working on pushing out content, scheduling strategy meetings and interacting with our customers. It's broad enough to be used by almost any company with these goals.   The "Time Tracker" app helps our team keep on top of multiple customer projects at once and how much time we are spending on each one. Through the app we can filter by customers or by tasks, and see a simple display of how much time we've spent working on that project. This can be especially helpful for any company that juggles a number of clients or bills them by-the-hour for services.   As our company grows, we've been using the "Out of Office" app more to keep track of our team members' daily schedules. Whether they're working from home or out on vacation, they can note it in the app for all employees to see. The app tracks vacation time taken by employees, and shows upcoming vacations. Employees can add new entries by date using the drop-down menu, and classify them by the type of leave they're taking (paid, unpaid, sick leave, etc.) If needed, the employee can also add any notes to explain the absence. This is especially helpful for companies where some or all of the employees may be working remotely during the week. The real-time updates make sure everyone's on the same page (and no one is getting work calls during their vacation!). AppSheet is a business that has been made more efficient through the use of no-code apps, just like our customers. Our team is made up of citizen developers who embraced a new platform and have created their own apps to help them be more efficient at their jobs. We think this is the future of business in the digital age, and we're proud to share some of our most popular in-house apps with you. 

UK Housing Association Builds Apps to Manage Backend Operations

Metworks has eliminated over 6,000 sheets of paper by switching to digital inspection reports. Here’s how AppSheet is making it happen.  Managing just a handful of residential properties can be a major undertaking. Overseeing several thousand properties, however, is an entirely different ballgame. Metworks is the in-house home repair contractor for Metropolitan Thames Valley, a non-profit organization that provides affordable housing for roughly 120,000 residents across the U.K. Metropolitan Thames Valley owns about 57,000 properties, all of which require regular maintenance and upgrades.  As the company’s primary repair contractor, Metworks provides a variety of services ranging from electrical work, carpentry, and plumbing repairs to large-scale installations.The company also handles day-to-day emergency repairs and prepares vacant properties so they can be rented.  Altogether, Metworks has about 200 repair technicians and 70 office workers.  Challenge: Streamlining back office operations  Forget about what goes on in the field. Metworks has its work cut out for itself simply managing all of its concurrent projects and employees at residential sites. It takes a tremendous amount of backend communication and coordination to stay on top of everything. This is something that the company was struggling with up until recently, mainly because they were using paper and Excel to manage daily operations.  “Our supervisors were complaining about the loads of paperwork that they had to process,” says Gabriel Matei, who is a System Administrator at Metworks. “Our team members had to manually collect data and enter it into spreadsheets—a process that would take several days.”  Metworks needed to find a better way to manage tasks like product ordering, asset management, and employee requests. After some research, the company decided that it would be best to invest in a digital management system to streamline its operations.  Solution: Build custom applications After testing several leading "off-the-shelf" applications that didn’t really suit their requirements, Metworks decided to move forward with AppSheet’s no-code app platform and build its own custom apps instead. Gabriel was immediately able to start designing apps with AppSheet. It helped that he had a background in database management and a working knowledge of the Visual Basic Language, which is the programming language for Excel.  “It’s very easy to use AppSheet—especially if you are familiar with how database applications work.” Gabriel says.  Right away, Gabriel was able to design several back office applications which the team now uses for everything from processing overtime and paid leave requests to handling vehicle inspection audits and more.  One of the most helpful apps that Gabriel made was a vehicle inspection tracker.  “We have about 200 vans,” Gabrieli says. “It’s quite hard to get regular updates from drivers on their location and condition. So, we created an inspection app that expedites these critical communications. It took me about two weeks to design it and roll it out to our end users, and they were immediately productive using them.”  Using this app, a driver can move through a checklist during a vehicle inspection and digitally transmit the information to a supervisor who can either sign off or follow up with an additional inspection if it’s needed. When services like an oil change is needed, the Metworks’ leasing company will receive an email notification. The app creates a complete workflow that traverses multiple employees, departments, and even companies.  Results  As the vehicle inspection tracker shows, Metworks is now running a safer and more efficient operation. Now, there are workflows for all sorts of tasks, like ordering items needed to complete residential jobs and ensuring all company vehicles are in proper working order at a glance.  To date, Metworks has deployed over 30 apps. The company plans to develop even more. Ultimately, these apps enable a faster and more responsive management system for all of the residents that depend on Metworks for timely service. And at the same time, the company is also reducing paper waste by using apps. This year, Gabriel says, over 2,000 digital vehicle inspection reports have already been transmitted.  “That’s 2,000 sheets of paper we have eliminated with just our vehicle inspection app,” says Gabriel. “On top of that, we have processed over 3,000 overtime forms and over 1,000 equipment request forms. All of that data is inside of our application.” There’s another benefit for Metworks, too: stronger data security.  Metworks, like all companies operating in Europe, must abide by the EU’s new General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR)—which is one of the most comprehensive data privacy mandates in the world. Under GDPR, companies can face massive penalties for data breaches.  “We had a data risk assessment system before we rolled out AppSheet,” Gabriel says. “We decided that it was better to use an application instead of paper, which can get lost or left behind at a job site. Now, all of our information is centralized and we can control what information we share and who has access to it.”  Looking forward, Gabriel hopes to expand the company’s use of apps beyond just core services. “We want to go more into project management,” Gabriel says. “We have subcontractors working with us, and we want to set up a system for task management where we can assign a job and they can provide us with updates.”  As you can see, AppSheet is playing a vital role in Metworks’ modernization strategy. In fact, it’s their go-to solution for digital transformation. Ready to begin your digital transformation story? Contact AppSheet today to see how you can get your business to the next level with custom apps.  

Furniture Maker Unto This Last: Using AppSheet to Digitize Operation and Expand Business

If you are ever in East London, don’t be surprised if you happen to see a table or chair hurtling down the street behind a bicycle. You can be sure it’s coming from our company, Unto This Last — a craft furniture maker operating under the motto “local is logical.” At Unto This Last, every object is designed, produced and delivered via cargo bike right from our Brick Lane storefront and workshop. It’s an open atmosphere, where customers can walk in, take part in the design process and even watch as their furniture gets made. As you can see, our whole process is designed to build relationships with our community members. For customers, the experience is much different than visiting a large wholesale provider and ordering a product that was massed-produced in a factory. We’re getting our customers to think on a hyperlocal level when making purchases, while also providing interesting jobs for local artists and craftsman. So Unto This Last is a big win-win. Our Challenge Right now business is booming here at Unto This Last. Entering our 18th year in business, we have a large base of loyal customers and regularly produce £20,000 of furniture per week. Now, our primary goal is domestic expansion. We were recently awarded a sizable government grant from Innovate U.K. to expand our operations across the country with the stipulation that we open two more workshops over the next two years. Time is not on our side in this case, and to meet our goals we will need to avoid making the same mistakes again. After all, we don’t have 17 years to learn by trial and error. We have only two. So, we are overhauling our internal management systems and transforming them into user-friendly apps in order to standardize our operations. This will make it much easier to scale to new locations like Greenwich in the coming years. My job is to get a clear sense of our operations, identify issues that we are having and then streamline them using apps. I, however, have NO coding experience. But I do have a secret weapon: AppSheet’s no code app maker platform. How AppSheet is transforming our business You are probably wondering how someone with no coding experience can spearhead an app-making strategy. But as it turns out, you don’t need to know how to code anymore in order to make fully-functioning, business-grade apps that are secure, reliable and easy to navigate. I sat down at my computer, easily figured out their drag and drop system and 20 minutes later I had an app. It was that simple. For us, it should be noted, AppSheet is much more than just a single app. Our company is being entirely reconfigured and put on their platform. And everyone in the company is now using AppSheet on a daily basis. Right now, we have about 12 apps. Our plan is to get to 50 or 60 by the end of next year. Here are some ways that we are using AppSheet: Production: When making furniture, our production manager needs to know what’s being manufactured, where they are and when they will be delivered. So, we made an app for tracking objects through the various stages of production. This intersects with our delivery app, which our drivers use in the field to coordinate scheduling throughout the day. Sales: Now, we no longer have to compile and distribute sales reports. We made an app that tracks weekly metrics, so that everyone can be on the same page right from a centralized location. Assembly instructions: We also have a big push right now for assembly instructions which will be instrumental when opening new branch locations. This will make it easy for anyone to learn how to assemble furniture — allowing for quick assembly with minimal training required. AppSheet has become the central engine to foster an environment centered around communication, organization and continual improvement. It offers opportunities to exchange information to improve operations. For instance, someone may discover a way to reduce sanding by 10 minutes, and share that information with the team along with pictures. The result is an environment where everyone is engaged, invested in improving and filled with a sense of purpose. A perfect fit We visited Toyota and found they ran their entire engine production plant using Excel. Instead of making the same table for 10 years, Toyota calls for analyzing it, talking about it and looking for ways of making it better and faster. We want to operate in a similar way—simple, but very efficient at eliminating waste and improving quality. We like AppSheet because it helps us mirror the Toyota model, without burying ourselves deep into technology or software. It allows us to keep our operation simple, affordable and in-house. In the past, the process for acquiring an app was to hire a software developer, shell out hundreds of thousands of pounds and wait. AppSheet has completely disrupted this process, by allowing me — a novice coder — to completely digitize our business and in no time at all. We also really like working with the AppSheet team. They are incredibly nice, and we enjoy talking and doing business with them. It’s a special relationship and one that closely aligns with our values and goals.  

How i3 Helped Seniors Get Reliable Rides to Medical Appointments

Vehicle ownership per household in the U.S. is as high as 1.927 cars. Based on that, it may be hard to believe that 3.6 million Americans (a lot of them are seniors) can't make it to nonemergency medical care appointments due to transportation challenges. One major issue: the lack of a transportation management tool to handle transportation requests and coordinate pick-ups and drop-offs. Most community-based senior center transportation systems work in the following way: A senior calls in to request a ride. The senior center jots down the caller's information on a piece of paper and then check which driver is available. Later, the center transcribes all the information in Excel for  reporting purposes. This is the process that Action in Matuity (AIM), i3 Healthcare Consulting's client,  used to follow.  But I3 Healthcare Consulting changed all that by helping the senior center build a ride request/driver dispatch app that migrated the original time-intensive call-pen-paper system to an easy-to-use service. The app resulted in 74.6% more rides and has had a huge impact on membership growth. Find out more about the app i3 made here.  

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.

How Mobile Apps are Keeping Italian Planes in the Air

Aviation Services S.p.A.  provides full handling airline and aviation services in Napoli Capodichino, Catania Fontanarossa, Roma Fiumicino and Bologna, Italy. Service offerings include station supervision and administration, turnaround coordination, baggage processing and transport, aircraft loading and unloading, flight operations, and much more. Marco Badalamenti works in General Affairs, Logistics, and IT Support department of Aviation Services S.p.A., and he’s responsible for ensuring the company’s internal processes run smoothly. As one can imagine, managing the procedures within an aviation service organization is a challenging and complex task. Internal communication must occur precisely and effectively in order for external processes to operate without flaw. Because Aviation Services S.p.A. is often handling sensitive calculations about aircraft load and balance, flight control, turnaround coordination, load movement, and passenger transport, the margin for error is nonexistent. Until a few months ago, Aviation Services S.p.A. was operating these procedures via electronic data sheets and communicating the information to each other via phone. Marco suspected there might be a better way, and that’s when he found AppSheet. The app Marco built is called Synchro, and it’s designed to manage all of the figures responsible for processing and flight management. Now that the process has been systemized via the use of the app, data entry and coordination is seamless. All of the data for each flight is now easily shared among responsible parties without the need to communicate verbally, thereby reducing potential for human error. In the aviation industry, there’s no room for that!

App Innovator: Colin Goodluck with Nowmail Package-Postal Services

  Nowmail Package-Postal Services is a full-service shipping agency based in Guyana that ships items almost anywhere in the world for businesses and individuals. Nowmail also provides mailbox, courier, and import and export services. The company places a strong emphasis on customer service and satisfaction, and is continuously refining its services to ensure its providing the best possible experience for its clients. Colin Goodluck is Nowmail’s Managing Director, and is in charge of-- among other tasks-- making sure the business is running as efficiently as possible. In that vein, Colin decided several of the company’s systems and processes needed to be updated, including its billing, shipping, and customer inquiry procedures. He found AppSheet and created several apps to automate those functions and create ways to collect data that would be simple for customers and efficient for employees. He says, “My organization is using AppSheet to begin an electronic process of providing our customers with a more efficient and effective service. In addition, it will help us to fan out to various locations, with the ability to easily track every transaction.” One app allows customers to input information about their shipments, including their weight, the value of the contents, and preferred method of shipping. Before creating the app, Colin says that collecting this information from his customers and then disseminating it to his various service vendors was a huge headache. With the app this process now happens automatically. He has also built a couple of other apps that have helped his company automate its billing process. Reflecting on the company’s previous methods, he says “It was super complex to be banking monies and transferring to the service vendors.” “AppSheet is making my small business compete with multi-billion-dollar companies that are in the bill payment services industry.”     

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