Amazon price! Google Speed! Five things to help you compete.

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Over the last 20 years, manufacturers had to learn to compete at the “Walmart price”. Service providers were largely unaffected. After all, you couldn’t manufacture a cab ride or a hotel room in China. How things have changed. No matter what you do, technology and automation are creeping into every area of your business and there are dozens of startups with the brains and funding to compete.

Every business must now learn to compete at the “Amazon price” but also at “Google speed”. In this environment, manual processes simply don’t stand a chance. You must automate or die.

Automation isn’t coming; it’s here and it’s the opportunity of a lifetime

From travel bookings and maps to online banking to highway tolls, we are already using automation in our daily lives. For your business, automating routine, day-to-day operations will make a fundamental difference. We’re talking about 50% efficiency improvements and literally changing what employees do. It’s heady and scary stuff.

Five things to keep in mind

Where to start? I.T. is overloaded, mobility requirements are soaring, there’s a serious skills gap, security is a concern, and data integration and scalability are challenging. It’s enough to make ones head spin. Nevertheless, you must get started TODAY!

1. Start small but Start NOW

We always overestimate the change that will occur in the next two years and underestimate the change that will occur in the next ten. Don’t let yourself be lulled into inaction. – Bill Gates.
The best advice I can give you is to get a quick win. Don’t try to automate everything or get bogged down in I.T. committees.  Find one everyday workflow – ideally it’s repetitive, with simple routing and reasonably frequent – and gain that first success.

2. Set goals and don’t be shy.

“If you don’t know where you want to go, then it doesn’t matter which path you take.” – Alice in Wonderland
The potential ROI of automating routine workflows is astounding. Shoot for at least 25% cost savings AND similar productivity gains. Don’t be surprised if you end up seeing even more.

3. Focus on the User Experience. Especially, on Mobile.

“How come my $5 smartphone app is easier to use than your $5,000,000 system?” – Every Millennial
Usability should be your #1 concern. For many people, especially millennials, their smartphone is the hub of their lives. You cannot drop them into jarring, old-style experiences and expect adoption. Your shiny new application needs to look fantastic and work fast. Modern, workflow automation platforms make it easy.

4. Involve your people from A-Z

“We humans have a love-hate relationship with our technology. We love each new advance and we hate how fast our world is changing.” – Daniel H. Wilson
Get your people involved early. They’ll be more invested in the solution if they’ve had a chance to impact it. They might also be concerned: is this automation going to eat my job? For the vast majority, the answer is no. It’ll help them do their job better and make them more valuable. For example, should teachers be spending time recording absences, getting travel or leave approved, filing reimbursements? Or teaching?

5. Analyze everything

“Data is the new oil.” – CEOs everywhere.
Your proprietary data is your most valuable asset. If your daily workflows are manual, you don’t even have access to your most valuable asset. With automation, you can collect data, analyze and refine it into useful, actionable information so you can do things like over-deliver on customer service, and rollout new business initiatives in response to changing business conditions.

Still need convincing?

Neither AirBnB nor Uber existed 10 short years ago. The world is changing and changing unbelievably fast. Will your company’s products and services in 2020 only be marginally better than they are today running on manual processes with workarounds and redundant work? Or will they be smart, personalized, automated and offered at price points unimaginable today?

Get started now and you too can reap massive benefits from automation. Download this white paper to learn more.

A version of this article also appeared in Forbes.
Photo by Braden Collum on Unsplash

Advanced Form Analytics? Combine frevvo + Google Sheets

We’ve written a series of articles on how frevvo + Google Apps (Sheets, Drive, Maps) can work together to solve business problems. frevvo includes a built-in submission repository that saves all your form and workflow submissions. You can view this data, filter it, and export it using the Submissions Views available in Live Forms. But, you can also combine frevvo + Google Sheets and leverage some sophisticated capabilities that are part of Google Sheets (charts, queries, filters etc.) for powerful data analysis on your submission data.

Geo Location ChartHere’s an example form that you can try. It’s a simple one with a few fields. A survey form for participants in the 2014 World Cup Soccer tournament. The form adds your submission data to this Google Sheet and shows it. When you submit it, you’ll see your submission in the last row.

The spreadsheet also contains two other Tabs: Geo Location and Pie Chart. The Geo Location Tab runs a query on the raw submission data and groups submissions by country. The Sheets Query language is very general and allows SQL-like queries. Once we have the data by country in a nice tabular format, we can generate a nice chart that plots submissions by country on a world map. Easy as pie.

Pledge amount by positionThe Pie Chart Tab, as you might expect, contains a pie chart. It contains a very similar query except that it sums pledge amounts by country and by position. Once again, we have the required data in a table and can easily generate pie charts to report on the data.

In this way, you can easily use frevvo’s Google Connector to save your submissions to Google Sheets. Then, you can use a whole host of built-in features in Google Sheets to analyze your submissions.

Interested in using frevvo with Google Apps? Contact us to learn how you can automate your approval workflows, integrate with Google Apps to manage your documents and use some of Sheets capabilities for advanced reporting.

[Video] Visual Rule Builder (V7.4)

vrbV7.4 has been released and it comes with a bunch of new things – the most exciting feature is the upgraded Visual Rule Builder.

Many customers use frevvo to create forms with extensive dynamic behavior. They love the flexibility and power of frevvo when it comes to creating dynamic forms. With frevvo’s Visual Rule Builder, it’s easier than ever to create these dynamic behaviors and anyone can do it.

Watch this short video that shows you how easy it is to use the Visual Rule Builder to create dynamic content.

Customers are using frevvo for things like:

  • Showing fields only when they’re relevant
  • Automatically filling in fields
  • Performing calculations

and many others.

View-Recording

Why not give it a whirl? Sign up for a free trial and see for yourself. It takes 30 seconds, and you can install a template and try it out instantly.

 

Will my company be “Uberized”?

k-12-t.png… or Amazoned or AirBnB’d? Think about it. When was the last time you went into a travel agency to book your flight? Printed out directions for your road trip? Walked into the bank to write a check for cash? We can’t remember either.

Automation isn’t coming; it’s here!

Just look around you. See those core business processes. One way or another, they’ll be automated. It’s the opportunity of a lifetime and it’ll change your organization.

Automating these core processes isn’t just about driving 5% cost reductions but 50% (or more) in parts of your operations. It’s about changing and enhancing what your people do, Monday to Friday, 9 to 5.

You have to start TODAY!

Manual knowledge processes do not stand a chance. In a world of “Amazon cost” and “Google speed”, you have to automate. But how? I.T. is overloaded. Where do you start? 

Download this white paper which discusses workflow automation, how your organization can benefit, and how you can evaluate and deploy a visual, low-code platform like frevvo for your automation needs.

Download-White-Paper

Visit our website to learn more and sign up for a free trial.

Visual Rule Builder Part 2: Subtotals and Totals

rules.jpgIn a previous article, we discussed how the Visual Rule Builder (VRB) update – it looks like it’s coming next weekend and we’re really excited – makes it super-simple to initialize forms with the current date, personal information etc.

Of course, real-world forms and workflows have many kinds of business requirements and another common one is the need to compute a subtotal and a grand total in a table of line items.

The form might look something like this. There’s a Table with four columns : Item description, Quantity, Unit Price and Subtotal. The Subtotal for each line is computed as the product of Quantity and Unit Price. There’s also a Grand Total which sums the individual line items.

Screen Shot 2017-12-05 at 1.58.35 PM.png

Prior to the VRB, you’d have to write a JavaScript rule as shown below

var tot = 0;
for (var i = 0; i < Quantity.value.length; i++) {
if (Quantity[i].value > 0 && UnitPrice[i].value > 0) {
var subtot = Quantity[i].value * UnitPrice[i].value;
Subtotal[i].value = subtot;
tot += subtot;
} else {
Subtotal[i].value = null;
}
}
GrandTotal.value = tot;

Once again, it’s not wildly complicated but there are a few quirks that could trip up someone who’s not used to coding e.g. a temporary variable is required to compute the Grand Total, there’s a for loop and the repeating fields need to be treated as arrays. The syntax can be a bit confusing, it’s easy enough to make a mistake and hard to debug.

Enter the Visual Rule Builder

With the VRB, it’s simple and anyone can do it. We’ll create two separate rules, one for the subtotals and another one for the Grand Total.

1. Open the VRB and set the condition. This is when we want the rule to fire. In this case, a Subtotal can only be calculated when we know the Quantity and Unit Price so that’s what we setup in the first panel of the VRB wizard.

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2. The next step is to define what actions to take when the condition is TRUE. Once again, with the VRB, it’s straightforward. We want to multiple Quantity and Unit Price.  So, we simply Set the Subtotal to the desired expression. We don’t have to worry about the fact that these are repeating fields in a table, there’s no for loop or array indexes to consider.

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3. Finally, in the last panel of the VRB wizard, we set the Subtotal to empty when the condition is FALSE. This ensures that the Subtotal will be cleared if Quantity or Price are empty.

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4. The last step is to calculate the Grand Total. Finish the above rule, create a new one and open the VRB. There is no Condition required so leave it empty. On the next panel we use a function to set the Grand Total to the Sum of all the Subtotals. That’s it. The SUM () function is smart enough to ignore empty rows and treats them as 0’s.

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5. The final rules look like this.

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6. Test the form. You’ll see that the Subtotals and Grand Total are automatically computed as desired.

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That’s it. Quick and easy – anyone can do it. This VRB update is coming really soon and we’re very excited about it because simplifying JavaScript rules has been a high-priority request from our customers. Contact us for more information and to try out the VRB for your own business forms.

Visual Rule Builder (VRB): Part 1

In recent articles, we’ve discussed how frevvo and other low-code platforms are making it easier for citizen developers who aren’t coders-by-trade to create effective, high-quality apps. Customers love the flexibility and power of frevvo when it comes to creating dynamic forms but, sometimes, they struggle with writing business rules in JavaScript.

We’re constantly working on improving our product to reduce the need to write code. We’re about to release an upgrade to the Visual Rule Builder (VRB) that’ll let you visually create even more dynamic behavior. Let’s take a look at an example. One of the most common business rules is to initialize a form with the current date and user data (first name, email address etc.) Until now, you had to write a rule like this:

if (form.load) {
TodayDate.value = frevvo.currentDate();
var ud = frevvo.userDetails();
UserId.value = ud.id;
FirstName.value = ud.firstName;
LastName.value = ud.lastName;
FullName.value = ud.name;
EmailAddress.value = ud.email;
ManagerId.value = ud.reportsTo;
}

It’s easy to make a mistake and hard to debug. In subsequent articles, we’ll see examples of even more complex rules.

Enter the Visual Rule Builder

Setting up your form for the above dynamic behavior is trivial with the VRB.  You simply use visual wizards. Let’s say, you’ve built a form with a few fields shown below. There’s a date field for Today’s Date and a Persona Info section with some user-specific data.

00-Date-Personal-Form.png

1. After you open the Rule Builder wizard, choose which field you want to Set from the pick list. The pick lists shows all available fields.

02-Choose-Field

2. What do you want to do? You can set a value, set a label, show/hide the control, enable/disable the control etc. In this example, we wish to initialize the controls and we’ll choose accordingly.

03-Choose-Operation

3. What do you want to set it to? You can use the slider to choose a literal value (e.g. 3 or the string “Joe”) or a function/expression. We’ll deal with expressions in a later post. In this case, we want to use built-in functions for today’s date and user-information. Start typing in the text box and matching functions will pop up. It’s very similar to Excel or Google Sheets. For each function, available parameters and detailed help is also displayed.

05-Choose-Function

4. When you’re done with all the fields in our form, it’ll look like this. We’re setting the TodayDate field to today’s date using the today() function and the various Personal Information fields to user-specific information using the appropriate userXXX() function.

06-All-Fields-Set

5. When you click Finish, the VRB wizard pops down and you can see a synopsis of the rule. Click any pencil icon to edit the rule and change the actions being taken.

07-Final-Rule

 

6. Test the form. You’ll see that all fields are automatically initialized as soon as the form loads to the appropriate values.

08-Test-Form.png

That’s it. Quick and easy – anyone can do it. This update to the VRB will be available in December 2017 (just a few days). Making JavaScript rules easier is one of the highest priority items for our customers and we’re excited about this capability. Subsequent posts in this series will explain other examples of rules that are much easier using the VRB.