Matthew Vignau | January 30, 2020
There’s a great amount of interest in custom-built applications – and quite a few misconceptions about them as well. Arraya’s Application Development team has encountered many of these, including concerns about complexity, use cases, and more. During this five-part series, our team will seek to dispel some of the more common misunderstandings about custom-built applications in order to shed light on a sometimes murky topic.
A reasonable concern for any custom development project is that those you’re working with won’t know your business. After all, you’ve been running and building your business for years and these outsiders have barely known you for a hot minute. How can they really help you reach the core of your business needs? What does an outside entity really bring to the table if they don’t know the ins and outs of how you do things?
First, any good outside firm or individual will invest time and energy getting to know your business. What is a daily process like? Where are the pain points? What do you find yourself spending time doing that could be alleviated? A good partner is first and foremost a good listener. But there is far more to it than listening. There’s also asking questions. There have been plenty of times where I’ve raised a question about some process or solution and the client went: “Oh … I hadn’t thought of that”. A fresh set of eyes can be invaluable. We’ve all been there. We’ve all typed out a long document, proofread it several times, and somehow still spectacularly missed a mistake in the first sentence.
I worked on a project several years ago where I needed to streamline an internal review process for new intranet sites. At this company, if you needed a site for a project or a team, you filled out a form, submitted it to another department, they filled out another form and sent that to a second team which set the security groups and then pushed the request back to the security reviewers who stamped it and sent it back to IT for set up. I was there to automate the site set up. Simple enough, some request would come from the security team, I’d build the site based on their information. To make it simpler, I created a form for them to fill out. All they had to do was click some radio buttons, make selections in some drop down menus, and the system would build a site based on those specs.
However, that wasn’t the full picture. It turns out, that wasn’t even clear to the client. All of these processes could be tied to one unified workflow/form combination. A single, auditable, tracked request with routing to the key people. Digging further in, my team and I found things like the names of the sites and the URLs being requested were being manually transferred around between the various teams. Nearly a quarter of requests were delayed due to typos in this process. By automating all of this into one unified process form and workflow, the typos vanished; it was all buttons and pulldowns. Even there, many of the selections were taken out of the hands of the other departments in favor of a simple review display of what was being requested and an approval/rejection button.
Errors and process delays dropped to nearly nothing and the client finally had a true self-service site creation system which also catered to their security review process to police the creation of new sites. Without that outside eye, these departments likely would have kept doing what they were doing, unaware of the problems the process was causing.
Every business is a unique story and what played out for that client isn’t going to be the same everywhere. This is exactly why you’d seek the help of a person or company and not a pre-built solution. No matter how many widgets are packed into a boxed solution, it will never be the equal of a person actually learning what you do and working with you to shape a better way. Adapting to your business and coming up with creative solutions to the existing problems is what sets custom development apart and delivers the solutions you need most.
Want to learn more about Arraya’s Application Development services? Visit https://www.arrayasolutions.com/contact-us/ to open up a dialogue with us today!
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