Pilot to Co-Pilot…Um, co-pilot? (When Business Application Platforms go bad)

In my last post about customer growth, I talked about customer success spreading throughout an organization and beyond.  In this post, I’d like to focus on failure. It doesn’t happen very often, but every once in a while, we do get a growing account that stops dead in its tracks and cancels.  Why o’ why would this happen? 

It’s a predictable pattern:  A frustrated manager brings in QuickBase to solve one or many team collaboration problems .  They build the apps, spread their use throughout their teams, become wildly more efficient (and popular), which leads to insane success and dozens of job offers.  BUT the problem is, they never shared the wealth. No one else learned to build a QuickBase app, no one learned how to manage the account.  In some instances, no one else even knew how they were paying for QuickBase. 

This leads to two results:

                1)The initial champion moves on to a new company and instantly brings QuickBase in – they are once again a hero.

                2)The original customer is left dead in the water.  If another hero-in-training doesn’t step up to take over the QuickBase account, the applications and account may ultimately fail.

As I said before, this is not a common occurrence, but it does happen.  Don’t let it happen to your organization.  If you are the only account admin and the only person who knows how to build applications, spread the wealth!  Teach your co-workers how to build apps to solve their own problems – remember, QuickBase accounts have unlimited apps and anyone can learn to build an app – you can’t go wrong!

And if you’re a user on a QuickBase account but have never tried to build an app – give it a shot.  It’s a lot of fun and leads to insane increase in productivity. There are a ton of on-line resources available to you.  You can even order a book, QuickBase: The Missing Manual.  In fact, I’ll send a free copy of the book to the first 10 users to request one and who post here on the Blog how they’re using (or want to use) QuickBase.  QuickBase Rocks – Learn it today!

  • Anonymous

    I would like my copy of of the book autographed by Alex.

    Ministry Health Care is a 15 hospital healthcare system in Wisconsin that loves QuickBase.

    Any process that used to require a person to collect and publish information is now being replaced by QuickBase. Our favorite application is for team management.

    In the past if someone wanted to put something on a meeting agenda they would email the team leader or their assistant.

    Now, team members post their agenda items directly into a Meeting Agenda table in the team’s QuickBase. The day before the meeting, the meeting leader will organize the agenda items. If time is insufficient, they will move items to the next meeting.

    The whole process take much less time for all involved. I cannot imaging the massive number of hours we have saved from that one application.

    There have been several efforts in the past to develop best practices for managing meetings. They typically used a Word template to manage the agenda. But they all failed because they were too cumbersome. This new process has been embraced by our employees and has become part of our corporate culture seemingly overnight.

    [Reply]

  • http://candidcio.com Will Weider

    I would like my copy of of the book autographed by Alex.

    Ministry Health Care is a 15 hospital healthcare system in Wisconsin that loves QuickBase.

    Any process that used to require a person to collect and publish information is now being replaced by QuickBase. Our favorite application is for team management.

    In the past if someone wanted to put something on a meeting agenda they would email the team leader or their assistant.

    Now, team members post their agenda items directly into a Meeting Agenda table in the team’s QuickBase. The day before the meeting, the meeting leader will organize the agenda items. If time is insufficient, they will move items to the next meeting.

    The whole process take much less time for all involved. I cannot imaging the massive number of hours we have saved from that one application.

    There have been several efforts in the past to develop best practices for managing meetings. They typically used a Word template to manage the agenda. But they all failed because they were too cumbersome. This new process has been embraced by our employees and has become part of our corporate culture seemingly overnight.

    [Reply]

  • Scott Skibell

    Alex,

    Boy, does this sound familiar!?

    I was contacted just this week by one of my old co-workers about QB. After all the resistance to our initial efforts from the IT guys, they finally came back and said keep using QuickBase. Then again, there wasn’t an experienced user to take it to the next level.

    Champions are like investments. It pays to diversify.

    It’s good to see your post. I’d love a copy of the book as it’s been on my Amazon wish list.

    [Reply]

  • Scott Skibell

    Alex,

    Boy, does this sound familiar!?

    I was contacted just this week by one of my old co-workers about QB. After all the resistance to our initial efforts from the IT guys, they finally came back and said keep using QuickBase. Then again, there wasn’t an experienced user to take it to the next level.

    Champions are like investments. It pays to diversify.

    It’s good to see your post. I’d love a copy of the book as it’s been on my Amazon wish list.

    [Reply]

  • Kip

    I run an online high school program as part of a larger school district in Ohio. Our district began using QB as a project management system several years ago. Even though our school has a Student Information System and there is a lot of data stored in our online Learning Management System, I still didn’t have the functionality I needed to collect or view the data the way I wanted to so I began to explore QB to serve my needs. I have since found tons of ways to use QB to improve efficiency and use data to make decisions. I have created several applications from scratch and have all kinds of tables and relationships, roles etc. The power and flexibility of QuickBase is just amazing!

    [Reply]

  • Kip

    I run an online high school program as part of a larger school district in Ohio. Our district began using QB as a project management system several years ago. Even though our school has a Student Information System and there is a lot of data stored in our online Learning Management System, I still didn’t have the functionality I needed to collect or view the data the way I wanted to so I began to explore QB to serve my needs. I have since found tons of ways to use QB to improve efficiency and use data to make decisions. I have created several applications from scratch and have all kinds of tables and relationships, roles etc. The power and flexibility of QuickBase is just amazing!

    [Reply]

  • Keith Watson

    My company, Kairos Management, evaluates the effectiveness of government and non-profit education and social service programs, and we help to manage those programs on an outsourced basis. We have used Quickbase in many ways. Here are just some examples. It is useful to keep in mind that most project teams consist of consultants who do the work in their own homes or offices, away from our company’s offices. Therefore a Web-based system is essential. But even when that is not the case, Quickbase is still our best option.

    1) We conduct an annual evaluation of Summer School and Summer enrichment programs, which includes multiple site visits to over 20 schools in a large city. The site visit team consists of 6 site observers and a project manager. The site observers use Quickbase to enter all of their site observations data. The project manager and I can read all of the site visit reports as soon as they are entered (usually the same day). At the end of the Summer this becomes our analysis database, making use of QB reports and also exporting the data to statistical analysis software.

    2) We manage a Request for Proposals process for a government agency that awards competitive grants. When the proposals come in, they are logged into QB. There are then 8 proposal reviewers who read the proposals and use QB to enter their proposal review scores and comments. I can track their progress in entering proposal reviews, and when the process is complete I generate reports for the government agency from QB showing the distribution of scores, who was recommended for funding, total amount of funds awarded, projected service numbers, etc. There is a check box called “Selected for Funding” so when I sit with the client we can select different groups of proposals for funding (using Grid Edit) and then review how the slate of grantees selected changes (using reports). The client likes that.

    3) We are doing a program evaluation that involves going through files to turn unstructured data into coded, structured data. The data are entered into Quickbase and reports are used to tabulate basic data.

    4) In a stretch from our typical services, we used QB to manage a non-profit’s conference registration process. People registered using the conference Web site and the data went directly into Quickbase. From there a registration person managed who was registered, name tag info, who had paid, who was on what committee, etc. I have no HTML experience but found it was easy to use the QB Wizard to get the Web data to directly populate the database.

    5) Not done but on my wish list: Develop a QB application (or find one in the library) that will hold dates like birthdays and other non-work things I tend to forget, then e-mail me a reminder week in advance.

    One thing I have learned about QB is that with respect the Web database applications there are very few things it cannot do.

    [Reply]

  • Keith Watson

    My company, Kairos Management, evaluates the effectiveness of government and non-profit education and social service programs, and we help to manage those programs on an outsourced basis. We have used Quickbase in many ways. Here are just some examples. It is useful to keep in mind that most project teams consist of consultants who do the work in their own homes or offices, away from our company’s offices. Therefore a Web-based system is essential. But even when that is not the case, Quickbase is still our best option.

    1) We conduct an annual evaluation of Summer School and Summer enrichment programs, which includes multiple site visits to over 20 schools in a large city. The site visit team consists of 6 site observers and a project manager. The site observers use Quickbase to enter all of their site observations data. The project manager and I can read all of the site visit reports as soon as they are entered (usually the same day). At the end of the Summer this becomes our analysis database, making use of QB reports and also exporting the data to statistical analysis software.

    2) We manage a Request for Proposals process for a government agency that awards competitive grants. When the proposals come in, they are logged into QB. There are then 8 proposal reviewers who read the proposals and use QB to enter their proposal review scores and comments. I can track their progress in entering proposal reviews, and when the process is complete I generate reports for the government agency from QB showing the distribution of scores, who was recommended for funding, total amount of funds awarded, projected service numbers, etc. There is a check box called “Selected for Funding” so when I sit with the client we can select different groups of proposals for funding (using Grid Edit) and then review how the slate of grantees selected changes (using reports). The client likes that.

    3) We are doing a program evaluation that involves going through files to turn unstructured data into coded, structured data. The data are entered into Quickbase and reports are used to tabulate basic data.

    4) In a stretch from our typical services, we used QB to manage a non-profit’s conference registration process. People registered using the conference Web site and the data went directly into Quickbase. From there a registration person managed who was registered, name tag info, who had paid, who was on what committee, etc. I have no HTML experience but found it was easy to use the QB Wizard to get the Web data to directly populate the database.

    5) Not done but on my wish list: Develop a QB application (or find one in the library) that will hold dates like birthdays and other non-work things I tend to forget, then e-mail me a reminder week in advance.

    One thing I have learned about QB is that with respect the Web database applications there are very few things it cannot do.

    [Reply]

  • Dylan B

    We are a magazine publisher using QB to track newsstand field work, production schedules and other information we need to share.

    The custom application we tweaked (starting with the project management app) has been a great success and I made sure to “spread the wealth” by transferring administrative responsibility to another group. Unfortunately, this creates some bureaucracy when trying to expand the application further, but ensures it doesn’t suffer the fate blogged above.

    I’ve actively been trying to encourage other departments to use our system (and avoid duplication of information in some instances), but the limited number of users on our plan keeps us from “spreading” it too much. It can be a challenge to “sell” the idea internally, but, if adopted, simplifies life considerably.

    [Reply]

  • Dylan B

    We are a magazine publisher using QB to track newsstand field work, production schedules and other information we need to share.

    The custom application we tweaked (starting with the project management app) has been a great success and I made sure to “spread the wealth” by transferring administrative responsibility to another group. Unfortunately, this creates some bureaucracy when trying to expand the application further, but ensures it doesn’t suffer the fate blogged above.

    I’ve actively been trying to encourage other departments to use our system (and avoid duplication of information in some instances), but the limited number of users on our plan keeps us from “spreading” it too much. It can be a challenge to “sell” the idea internally, but, if adopted, simplifies life considerably.

    [Reply]

  • http://www.2disc.com/ Jennifer

    I’ve been researching online solutions for our project management, time tracking, etc. We have a small firm with most of our people telecommuting, so it made sense to have an online solution.

    I’m thoroughly impressed with your customer service, what I see so far, the pricing, the flexibility, AND the great reviews.

    I just got back an email responding to a list of questions I had about Quickbase’s capabilities. Essentially I got a “yes” to every question.

    I’d love to see the book! Thanks.

    [Reply]

  • http://www.2disc.com Jennifer

    I’ve been researching online solutions for our project management, time tracking, etc. We have a small firm with most of our people telecommuting, so it made sense to have an online solution.

    I’m thoroughly impressed with your customer service, what I see so far, the pricing, the flexibility, AND the great reviews.

    I just got back an email responding to a list of questions I had about Quickbase’s capabilities. Essentially I got a “yes” to every question.

    I’d love to see the book! Thanks.

    [Reply]

  • http://www.ds-mi.com/ Bill

    We survey gas prices.

    Our sources transmit data to us all day, from all over the USA. We use QuickBase (and email, and other data entry methods) to gather the data, and for remote web access to our data.

    I love QuickBase. Thanks for the book, Alex.

    [Reply]

  • http://www.ds-mi.com Bill

    We survey gas prices.

    Our sources transmit data to us all day, from all over the USA. We use QuickBase (and email, and other data entry methods) to gather the data, and for remote web access to our data.

    I love QuickBase. Thanks for the book, Alex.

    [Reply]

  • Mark

    Last year at this time we were close to closing down Quickbase. Only two users were pursuing it. We found a collaboration need with an offshore supplier. Quickbase quickly showed its strengths of quick adoption. User reports from the application were explained and also quickly adopted. Other trial or concept apps were then expanded. I would like to find other solutions or functions inside Quickbase that could further highlight it usefulness. SEND ME THE BOOK!!

    [Reply]

  • Mark

    Last year at this time we were close to closing down Quickbase. Only two users were pursuing it. We found a collaboration need with an offshore supplier. Quickbase quickly showed its strengths of quick adoption. User reports from the application were explained and also quickly adopted. Other trial or concept apps were then expanded. I would like to find other solutions or functions inside Quickbase that could further highlight it usefulness. SEND ME THE BOOK!!

    [Reply]

  • David Bruton

    I would like a copy of the book.

    I created a project management application while working for a construction management company. The application tracks all job costs, from internal expenses (employee time and expenses) to external subcontracts and bills and invoicing to clients. This did away with about a dozen different spreadsheets, some of which were created by each employee each month (now all done online). It eliminated about 10 days per month in administrative time when it rolled out (even more as it grew). It has since expanded to handle contracts in progress (CIP) for recognizing revenue based on costs, resource scheduling, sales pipeline management, time off tracking, and pretty much everything but the kitchen sink.

    [Reply]

  • David Bruton

    I would like a copy of the book.

    I created a project management application while working for a construction management company. The application tracks all job costs, from internal expenses (employee time and expenses) to external subcontracts and bills and invoicing to clients. This did away with about a dozen different spreadsheets, some of which were created by each employee each month (now all done online). It eliminated about 10 days per month in administrative time when it rolled out (even more as it grew). It has since expanded to handle contracts in progress (CIP) for recognizing revenue based on costs, resource scheduling, sales pipeline management, time off tracking, and pretty much everything but the kitchen sink.

    [Reply]

  • Mark Shnier

    Although I have developed dozens of application at our $150 million floor covering distributor, I recently spent a week at a $1.5 million company run owned by a dear friend. She had grown this company from a (literally) garage operation to a nice little business sellling baby wear – bibs and diapers. http://www.bumkins.com

    In the past few months with the lead paint scare from China, all of a sudden this little American company with American made products including American made fabrics is being deluged by orders by the big guys like Toys R Us / Babies R us. So they are in “trouble”, but its a good kind of problem – scrambling to meet demand.

    After a day with her and interviewng her small staff of about 10 we ungraded her QB apps to allow her to see Customer profitability by Customer, by Channel (e.g. Big box stores vs “Mom and Pop” small stores), and by Product Category. Basically they dump raw sales data from their main computer system into QB, and then click to see the Sales Analysis reports. The main system is OK for processing orders, but terrible for being able to quickly analyze sales and customer profitability. When they are in a position that they can’t meet demand, its important to know which products and categories and customers are profitable.

    In addition, because the nature of the their business makes them vulnerable to getting “small ordered to death” – because the individual items are not expensive, I also was able to build a way that a cost per order as well as a cost per line could be loaded – thus not only can we now see the Gross Margin % – but also see the Profitability after loading a processng cost per order (and line) into their tables.

    It was very satisfying to leave after just a few days on site and feel that she was left with a tool that would help her understand her business much better.

    [Reply]

  • Mark Shnier

    Although I have developed dozens of application at our $150 million floor covering distributor, I recently spent a week at a $1.5 million company run owned by a dear friend. She had grown this company from a (literally) garage operation to a nice little business sellling baby wear – bibs and diapers. http://www.bumkins.com

    In the past few months with the lead paint scare from China, all of a sudden this little American company with American made products including American made fabrics is being deluged by orders by the big guys like Toys R Us / Babies R us. So they are in “trouble”, but its a good kind of problem – scrambling to meet demand.

    After a day with her and interviewng her small staff of about 10 we ungraded her QB apps to allow her to see Customer profitability by Customer, by Channel (e.g. Big box stores vs “Mom and Pop” small stores), and by Product Category. Basically they dump raw sales data from their main computer system into QB, and then click to see the Sales Analysis reports. The main system is OK for processing orders, but terrible for being able to quickly analyze sales and customer profitability. When they are in a position that they can’t meet demand, its important to know which products and categories and customers are profitable.

    In addition, because the nature of the their business makes them vulnerable to getting “small ordered to death” – because the individual items are not expensive, I also was able to build a way that a cost per order as well as a cost per line could be loaded – thus not only can we now see the Gross Margin % – but also see the Profitability after loading a processng cost per order (and line) into their tables.

    It was very satisfying to leave after just a few days on site and feel that she was left with a tool that would help her understand her business much better.

    [Reply]