“The success of the app is the balance between ease of use and meeting fairly complex requirements. It’s an elegant system that allows for easy management of both intellectual property and resources.” – Greg Robin
At software companies, effectively documenting and sharing knowledge about code usage and changes is an enormous challenge that transcends people, processes, and technology. One large software company needed a solution to manage this process across hundreds of products to ensure accountability and speed the learning process. To solve the problem, Greg Robin of Productivity Advisors built a customized knowledge management application on the Intuit QuickBase platform.
The Knowledge (KM) & Feedback System application Robin built is one of more than 250 apps available in the Intuit QuickBase Exchange. In this interview, Robin shares the story behind the application he built, and why getting the requirements down is key to app building success.
What is your title and where do you work?
I am the founder and principal of Productivity Advisors in San Francisco. We are a cloud based consultancy helping clients select and implement QuickBase and Salesforce.com solutions.
What was the driver behind the Knowledge (KM) & Feedback System app?
I had a client (a large software company) that needed to manage the code used in their applications and track which staff member had created what. The application helps them manage talent and intellectual property.
Why is knowledge management so important for the organization for which this app was created?
My client had over 500 software products utilizing open source code. Understanding and tracking what has been used, and where, and who understands the use has become critical to the organization.
What was the biggest challenge to developing the app?
The biggest challenge was understanding the requirements fully and build a simple object model based on user profiles and the organization’s definition of knowledge. Each organization defines knowledge differently and profiles its knowledge workers differently. So it’s challenging to understand the domain, what is knowledge and what kind of personal attributes you want to capture to adequately define profiles.
What makes the app successful, in your opinion?
The success of the app is the balance between ease of use and meeting fairly complex requirements. It’s an elegant system that allows for easy management of both IP knowledge and resources involved.
How has QuickBase enabled you to get to the right solution?
QuickBase made it easy to model the data and solution for the client, so we could quickly get to user acceptance testing (UAT) which helped us vet the solution.
What advice would you share with other QuickBase app builders?
My advice would be:
- Get the business story right
- Be agile and iterate with your stakeholders
- Prototype early
- Focus on the requirements for the data and how it will be used. The rules, reports and workflow come at the end.