Simple QuickBases for Complex Problems

I recently helped a customer create a very cool QuickBase to manage service contracts throughout their Fortune 500 organization.  The current system was being managed with a combination spreadsheet and file cabinet.  As a result, the Company estimated that they had lost over $4 million in the past year alone in missed "details” (terms, renewals, etc.).

So the customer created a very powerful QuickBase that could manage the approval process including:

-event and due date reminders
-workflow
-notifications and change history
-and a contract file library

This whole process to manage hundreds of contracts included dozens of users across a variety of business functions.  Using a combination of custom notifications and roles, the QuickBase was developed to notify the right people of the right information, at the right time.   The amazing part was that this QuickBase was a single table application.  When I finally saw it just before the customer was going to roll it out live, I was shocked that a process this complicated could be managed through a single table, roles, and notifications.   

I know that often as I’m developing my own applications I find myself making things way too complicated with too many tables and relationships to keep track of.  There is definitely a time and place for multi-table QuickBases but sometimes simple really is better.

  • http://whatsup.sujeet.net/ Sujeet

    Whenever I talk about QuickBase to a new user, or someone who has just peripherally used it; I often find myself trying to best summarize its characteristics – and I think this is one area that the QuickBase team would probably benefit from some thought around. I think my favorite has been “Excel meets Oracle on the Web”; but I think your team could probably come up with some a lot better.

    QuickBase is an awesome product; and I could imagine a hundred different uses that I could put it to use in my daily life – business and personal – but I think that it should have TurboTax-like simplified help screens and the sort so that new and “expert” users can harness the power of this application into doing the best for them.

    I like keeping things simple when I QuickBase ‘em. I think I’ve gone about five years without facing the need to create a single QuickBase with multiple tables!

    A suggestion: I think row colorization formulae are something you should help the users understand and put to their advantage as best possible. I think a formula to drive row-coloring in QuickBases makes them a lot more relevant, by helping viewers easily visually prioritize records. The current set of row colorization formulae are laid out well in the Help screens, but I would suggest a somewhat real-time indicator of “This will do this” in the row colorization section of a View creator so that users can quickly and easily see / troubleshoot the result of their row colorization formulae without having to wait till they get that cryptic error message at the top of the screen after hitting “display”.

    Regards,
    Sujeet

    [Reply]

  • http://whatsup.sujeet.net Sujeet

    Whenever I talk about QuickBase to a new user, or someone who has just peripherally used it; I often find myself trying to best summarize its characteristics – and I think this is one area that the QuickBase team would probably benefit from some thought around. I think my favorite has been “Excel meets Oracle on the Web”; but I think your team could probably come up with some a lot better.

    QuickBase is an awesome product; and I could imagine a hundred different uses that I could put it to use in my daily life – business and personal – but I think that it should have TurboTax-like simplified help screens and the sort so that new and “expert” users can harness the power of this application into doing the best for them.

    I like keeping things simple when I QuickBase ‘em. I think I’ve gone about five years without facing the need to create a single QuickBase with multiple tables!

    A suggestion: I think row colorization formulae are something you should help the users understand and put to their advantage as best possible. I think a formula to drive row-coloring in QuickBases makes them a lot more relevant, by helping viewers easily visually prioritize records. The current set of row colorization formulae are laid out well in the Help screens, but I would suggest a somewhat real-time indicator of “This will do this” in the row colorization section of a View creator so that users can quickly and easily see / troubleshoot the result of their row colorization formulae without having to wait till they get that cryptic error message at the top of the screen after hitting “display”.

    Regards,
    Sujeet

    [Reply]

  • http://whatsup.sujeet.net/ Sujeet

    Forgot to mention another suggestion / feature request in my previous post:

    Could it make it so that users could email stuff into QuickBases and add records via email “posts” and the sort? Lets say I was tracking gas / mileage; it would be really cool if I could email “gallons”, “dollars” and “miles” from my cellphone / PDA into my QuickBase from there itself.

    Ditto for people out in the field who have to remember coming back to their QuickBases to add stuff in (and could potentially forget).

    Ditto for letting users set up RSS feeds from their QuickBases (with authentication, of course). It would be cool if I could have my RSS reader tell me the latest and greatest by way of updates and/or formula-based changes in my QuickBase(s).

    Feel free to email me if you want more details, etc.

    Regards,
    Sujeet

    [Reply]

  • http://whatsup.sujeet.net Sujeet

    Forgot to mention another suggestion / feature request in my previous post:

    Could it make it so that users could email stuff into QuickBases and add records via email “posts” and the sort? Lets say I was tracking gas / mileage; it would be really cool if I could email “gallons”, “dollars” and “miles” from my cellphone / PDA into my QuickBase from there itself.

    Ditto for people out in the field who have to remember coming back to their QuickBases to add stuff in (and could potentially forget).

    Ditto for letting users set up RSS feeds from their QuickBases (with authentication, of course). It would be cool if I could have my RSS reader tell me the latest and greatest by way of updates and/or formula-based changes in my QuickBase(s).

    Feel free to email me if you want more details, etc.

    Regards,
    Sujeet

    [Reply]

  • Royce Patton

    I too would like to see some way of modifying records via email, although I’m not sure how that could be accomplished. My users are always in the field and may forget to update information when they are in a position to access QuickBase.

    However, much, much more important is the ability to send Reminders in plain text. Again, all of my users are in the field with SMS-enabled cell phones. My greatest desire is for a QuckBase app to be able to send nagging reminder messages such as: “Please submit your expense report” directly to the user’s cell phone until the task is done.

    Currently, all reminders go out as html, with no plain text option (like Notifications), which just does not work with our cell phones.

    [Reply]

  • Royce Patton

    I too would like to see some way of modifying records via email, although I’m not sure how that could be accomplished. My users are always in the field and may forget to update information when they are in a position to access QuickBase.

    However, much, much more important is the ability to send Reminders in plain text. Again, all of my users are in the field with SMS-enabled cell phones. My greatest desire is for a QuckBase app to be able to send nagging reminder messages such as: “Please submit your expense report” directly to the user’s cell phone until the task is done.

    Currently, all reminders go out as html, with no plain text option (like Notifications), which just does not work with our cell phones.

    [Reply]

  • http://www.tower-defense-game.com/ Tower Defense

    I think row colorization formulae are something you should help the users understand and put to their advantage as best possible. I think a formula to drive row-coloring in QuickBases makes them a lot more relevant, by helping viewers easily visually prioritize records.

    [Reply]

  • http://www.tower-defense-game.com/ Tower Defense

    I think row colorization formulae are something you should help the users understand and put to their advantage as best possible. I think a formula to drive row-coloring in QuickBases makes them a lot more relevant, by helping viewers easily visually prioritize records.

    [Reply]