Final part in this series detailing the basic development of an app for small business use. Rise of the bots – automation to help and assist staff with routine tasks.
After nearly 2 months of development I’m going to call the app complete. Actually, there is still plenty more to add but it’s too boring to write about.
The major development since the last post is the use of the ‘Bots’. This is something I didn’t have with Filemaker (or perhaps I did but I didn’t know how to implement it). But basically the bots allow scheduled automations, or automations that happen in response to a trigger.
This is a really neat development and, to a large degree, is one of the main reasons for developing the new app. Here’s why: a computer database is great for holding data – but it’s also great at concealing data. So, for example, with our old system, you could write a work order to a tradesman – which is all well and good – but if the tradesman didn’t do the work, then the work order remained open and could get forgotten about (until the tenant contacted us and chased it up). The trigger to close the work order was the receipt of the tradesman’s invoice – but if they didn’t do the work or were unresponsive then the open work order was forgotten. But an automated bot can check for open work orders after, say, 2 weeks of them being created and then email an alert to staff; reminders, feedback requests, auto responses etc are all possible. And they can be complex processes – eg, a rent renewal can be triggered by the date in the AST record, and then the bot emails an alert to the member of staff, an advice email to the tenant, an advice email to the landlord and also trigger an order form for the fee.
- I had more data sets than I realised – and Appsheet has recommendations for maximum file size of data sources. Check this first!
- A suite of apps for different roles might be more manageable than one big app
- If you’re migrating from an old system to a new one, then delete as much data as possible
I’m very happy with the end result – we’re cloud-based, with automated functions. Furthermore, our new VOIP soft-phone system has integrated effortlessly – ie, if you’re using the phone app version of our new CRP, then contacts can be dialled by default using the soft-phone app (and not the mobile’s sim) which displays as our local landline number on the recipients display. That puts our whole office into a mobile phone – and can be used anywhere in the world. Neat 🙂