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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. 

M&O Partners Moves Full Speed Ahead With More Streamlined Processes

M&O Partners is a multinational sales hub that connects buyers and suppliers in the offshore oil and gas industry. The company has four main locations in Brazil, the U.S., Norway, and Singapore, with sales partners across Europe, North America, and South America. Since launching in 2009, M&O Partners has successfully executed over 100 internationalization projects, helping companies expand from their local market and successfully enter international markets. The company maintains a global network of over 50 suppliers and has clients in more than 15 countries. M&O is currently in the process of scaling its network and is building an app to coordinate projects for over 100 companies across 10 major global markets. Here’s how AppSheet’s no-code platform is making it happen. Courtesy of M&O Partners   M&O finds AppSheet M&O’s journey with AppSheet started about four years ago when Head of Special Projects Janis Majors discovered the platform while researching online tools such as Smartsheet, Microsoft Project, Zoho, and others. Majors also evaluated several no-code app platforms, but couldn't find any platform that could meet their needs until he came across AppSheet. Majors—who had no coding experience whatsoever—was intrigued by what a no-code platform could do for his organization. He believed the right solution could radically change his company’s approach to project and process management tools, by offering a platform where in-house development could substitute external developers. “AppSheet has something others don’t have—an enthusiastic user base, and responsive customer support. All in all, AppSheet looks like the best companion for the future and a perfect match for our expanding operation,” Majors says. “I kept AppSheet on my radar and returned to it when we began formulating plans for the next phase of our company.” Challenge: Custom software at an affordable price  Software development is expensive. Companies often spend beyond their means by hiring new employees to develop custom solutions or acquiring new technologies that come with hefty licensing costs. Majors and his team wanted to avoid that pitfall. They were drawn to AppSheet’s no-code platform because it allowed them to avoid hiring pricey in-house developers or having to turn to third-party agencies. Before making a decision, M&O had to make sure the platform met specific criteria. The company needed to retain control over the user experience (UX), and they also needed to ensure the platform could meet its strict requirements for security and access management, since the company deals with lots of sensitive data. Also, it was important that the apps would be able to do the heavy lifting in terms of data processing and functionality, to avoid having to develop custom backend systems. The team was in luck. When it came to UX, the AppSheet editor gives developers almost complete control over an app’s look and design. It allows a creator to determine everything from aesthetics (e.g., font, colors, and branding) to how information is displayed across the app. AppSheet also has a robust security framework built around four key pillars: authentication, auditing, application access control, and data access control. “AppSheet checked all of the boxes,” Majors says. “We determined that this platform would fit our needs and decided to proceed.” Solution: How M&O uses AppSheet Majors, like many citizen developers, approached AppSheet with a massive amount of data. “At first I had almost 50 data sets in one app,” says Majors. “My initial thinking was that it was better to try and make everything function together at first. However, the app quickly ballooned and became very cumbersome to manage and update.”  The issue wasn’t the amount of data M&O was using, but rather the way it was structured inside of the app. The AppSheet team advised Majors to split the functionality into separate apps—a tip that Majors said was crucial.  M&O hasn’t looked back since. Majors and his team are currently working on developing six different apps which will all work together within the AppSheet platform, sharing the same pool of data sets. The beta version is currently being used to manage a sample of live projects, while the finished suite will be rolled out later this year. Here is a brief overview of each app: A project implementation app runs all projects on top of specific processes, where each step is assigned to different users worldwide. The app distributes notifications to end users and provides an interface where they can execute tasks, upload documents, and pass along responsibilities to the person assigned to the next step in the project. The interface also provides users with necessary input and documents created in earlier steps, as well as the tools and templates they need to complete their current step. The app also creates pdf’s of deliverables, such as reports based on project data, that can be sent directly to the project client. A process management app manages the processes that all projects use. This is the core of the system, since the processes are what makes project automation possible. Processes will change over time as jobs get updated and new ways of doing things emerge, and this app is where M&O can add and edit processes as they go along. A network management app manages the members of the network, which is planned to reach 100+ companies within the next year or so. The app contains detailed information about the companies and their staff members, membership statuses, the services they are receiving from M&O, project information, and more. A tool management app ties in with the processes, with an interface to create the tools that users need for the various project steps. This includes a report generator, which can produce custom pdf reports from project data through a Word template. Other tools are an interface to input meeting notes, a repository of various templates, and various input forms for project data. Tools can be customized and attached to steps in a process, so that end users will find the tool at the step where it’s needed. A top-level management dashboard gives managers a detailed overview of every project. A system admin app manages backend operations. Administrators can use this app to edit the technical elements of the network, and to define common elements that all apps use such as graphics, help pages and system messages, settings, user authorities, and so on. They’ve designed the apps to have a simple and intuitive interface so that suppliers, project managers, and agents can easily understand the specific actions they need to perform during a project and when each of them needs to be executed. All of these tasks will take place within M&O’s secure apps. The app will also serve as a valuable resource for M&O, as it will provide real-time visibility into all customer projects taking place simultaneously across its global network while also serving as the main managerial interface for the M&O team. “We will be able to track, follow, and participate in hundreds of projects from a centralized location and with a lean team,” Majors says. Majors is now working to make sure that all of the apps work together smoothly. “Data coordination needs to be seamless behind the scenes,” says Majors. “This is somewhat difficult, as all six of the apps are interacting with a large shared data repository and pulling specific information to match their functionality. But we see that we are able to make it work.” Results: Powerful Applications Delivered in Less Time with Less Budget  Without AppSheet, M&O would have spent hundreds of thousands of dollars annually in developer salaries and software creation costs to develop the same functionality, and with less agility. We were curious, however, to learn what Majors’ experience was like learning to use AppSheet. Remember: Majors doesn’t have a technical background. On top of that, his project was quite complicated. “I found the learning curve to be a bit steep if you go beyond simple, stand-alone apps,” Majors admits. “But after a while, you will find that it’s a logical system to work with.” Majors elaborated on his experience using AppSheet’s expressions, which can change the behavior of an app and provide advanced functionality. “These expressions run throughout the system, tying data together. It was a bit tricky at first, but postings in the very active user forum provided help for some of my more complex needs.” Majors went on to say that while you don’t need to know how to code to use AppSheet for an operation this complex, you do need to have a clear understanding of what you’re trying to accomplish. “It’s important to have an organized and logical approach to what you want to do with your app,” Majors explains. Majors also added that he appreciates AppSheet’s user forum, which contains a trove of useful information from AppSheet’s robust user base. What’s more, AppSheet regularly updates their platform, taking user feedback into account. Majors has seen AppSheet leverage feedback to build user-requested features and enhance the UX. “AppSheet is continuously getting better,” Majors says. “There is constant development. And you can do lots of useful things on the platform that you could not do years ago. I'm happy to see that there is increasingly better documentation and help pages becoming available.” The company sees great potential with the platform and is going “all in” moving forward—despite other no-code app platform providers. “AppSheet is an excellent tool and I don’t want to scare anyone from using it,” Majors says. “As we say in Norway, it’s a ‘raisin in the sausage,’ meaning a very pleasant surprise.” Majors also offered some helpful advice for app creators. “The best tip I can give developers is to create one new slice for each and every view. It's the only way we could have several different detailed views for the same table—and to control which one to show and where.” Editor's Note: AppSheet works with a variety of customers from different vertical markets whose projects range in scope and complexity. Some companies make very simple apps, while others—like M&O—are highly advanced. Ultimately, AppSheet can be as simple or as complex as you need it to be. Check out these resources to learn more: How Rotary International Is Using Apps To Help Rebuild The Hurricane-Ravaged Caribbean How a Chef, Farmer, Pig, and an App Made Farm-to-Fork a Reality How AppSheet Turned an Idea Into a Habit and Goal Tracking Business Spreadsheets and Beer: A Better Match Than You’d Think 

How to Make a Project Management App in 10 Minutes

  You check emails on your phone in a taxi, at an airport or even in a grocery store. You may also edit documents in word, spreadsheet or PowerPoint while you are on the go. But have you ever thought about managing your projects on your phone?     Project management apps are one of the most popular functional areas for AppSheet creators. That’s because pretty much all of us, at one time or another, manage a project or a number of projects. I am no exception to that rule as my role here requires me to manage a ton of projects and project owners! My project management app helps me to ensure that deadlines are met and that work is distributed evenly. After reviewing many project management apps and creating my own, I’ve realized that there are three critical features every project management app must have. Now your project management app may include a number of “other” bells and whistles but these three features are key to project management success: Group projects by field options such as Owner and Time to easily track projects; Automate schedule notifications to increase productivity; Control access to data so that project owners only see what they need to see, improving the user experience. Data Grouping Makes Tracking the Progress of Projects Easier If you’re like me, a project management spreadsheet might look like pretty similar to the one below. It contains a ton of data but is very difficult to navigate due to the number of columns you are traversing. But in reality, you don’t need to see all the columns—you simply need to access those columns that need to be reviewed or updated based on an action. That’s why you need an app. With it, you can group and view your data by Project Owner, Project Start Time, Status, or even Project Category. So instead of eyeballing and mining data, you can effortlessly navigate to the group you want to check. Data grouping can also help to identify the number of projects by time period (in this example, week) and Owner. That way you can easily determine owners that are tasked with too many projects, and if necessary, redistribute the projects or change the time period to ensure that all projects are completed. For example, in the following app, John and Mary each have three to four projects, but Matt has only one project. You may want to redistribute the load so that Matt is working on more projects. To make status tracking even easier, use visual cues. Depending on the level of detail, you may want to use two different types of cues. For example: A pie chart to indicate whether a project is Completed (Full), In Progress (Half) or Not Started (Empty). A color bar to indicate whether an owner has Completed a project (Green), is In Progress (Yellow) or has Not Started (Red). With this feature, in the field or in the office, you can easily locate the projects that need attention and decide what actions to take. Automatic Deadline Alerts Keep Projects and Owners on Track The last thing you want to see is a project delay. To keep everything on track and on schedule, why not automatically send a deadline alert to a project owner when his or her deadline is approaching? You can set up your app to do this for you with some simple settings. For example, I can set up a workflow (you can do this under Reports in AppSheet App Editor) to send an email at a scheduled time. In this case, send deadline alert emails at 8am PST to project owners whose deadlines are two days from now. So, for example, if today is December 14, 2017, anyone whose deadline is December 16, 2017 will receive the Deadline Alert email at 8am today. The default email body can show project details and you can customize it to make it more personal. Below is an example of an automatic notification that is triggered based on a schedule deadline.   Another way to do this is to show all projects whose deadlines are two days away on a separate page, and decide if you want to send deadline alerts through pressing a button.      In either case, instead of manually reminding owners about tasks and deadlines, you have set up an automated process that does this for you. I don’t know about you, but this simple feature has made me so much more productive—no more manual tracking of deadlines! Controlled Data Access: Project Owners See Only What they Need to See Whether you’re working on one complicated project or a number of projects, you can control what project owners can access and update. This has two advantages: Uncluttered user interface for project owners as they only see information about the projects they are responsible for. Higher rates of adoption as the app is easy for project owners to use and update as they see only the information they care about. I’ve set up my app to work this way: all project owners can access my app but they can only see the projects that they own. I am the only one that can see all data in the app. For example, on Ryan’s Owner view/page (Left screenshot), he can only see four projects because those are owned by him but I can see all projects (Right screenshot) including Ryan’s.       Download my project management app below, check my expressions and make your own app!   That’s it for today’s post. As you build your project management app, keep these key features in mind. And please let me know: what other management features do you think are critical? What other function-focused articles do you want to read? Leave your comments below—we are always interested in your point of view! For use cases in the real world, please visit our AppSheet Creator Spotlight. For step-by-step app making instructions and new features, please go to Features, Tips & Webinars.

Manage Projects Like a PRO

Project management is a limited endeavor if your team needs to be mobile but your data isn't. That's why thousands of AppSheet app creators use AppSheet to transform the data in their Google Sheets, Smartsheet, and Excel spreadsheets into powerful mobile apps. We recently held two webinars that showed how to get started with AppSheet and build project management apps. The apps we used during the webinar are available for you to copy them and see how they were created. Check the two videos and find the link to the app at the end of this post! Project Management 1     We covered the basic structure of a project management app and how to arrange its tables.  1. Connecting multiple tables and using libraries. 2. Adding images to your app 3. Changing the layout of the app 4. Having a hierarchy of initiatives / projects / tasks / and comments. in a 1-to-many fashion Project Management 2     We covered: 1. Actions 2. Notifications 3. Formatting rules 4. Distributing the app Get the app here   

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