Nowadays, most managers rely on internal (admin) tools for completing different administrative tasks. But what are internal tools anyway? Before we dive deeper into the topic, let's make sure everyone gets the definition right. In short, internal tools are various software that a company builds internally (hence the name) to solve tasks across various departments.
Companies such as Google, Airbnb, and Stripe are notorious for using such tools. Well, they have good reasons to do so. Any business needs tools such as an employee resources portal, a database GUI, an administrative panel, or a meetings management planner, regardless of size. Internal tools bring so much to the table; the key is convenience and transparency.
Internal tools benefits
Concerning the 2022 downturn in the economy, saving costs has become increasingly important for both small and big businesses alike. Of course, there's always a "build or buy" solution. However, building internal tools plays a crucial part in helping a business cut costs while improving business performance. Let's summarize their benefits, shall we?
First, internal tools help automate manual and repetitive tasks for op teams. Second, they work great at bringing together various data across departments, not to mention the variety of apps that a company uses. Speaking of data, internal tools display business information and performance metrics in a convenient way. The other benefits include:
- Revamped internal processes;
- Full control over business processes;
- Improved team productivity;
- Satisfied employees.
The Retool's report claims that over 55% of engineer teams worldwide are developing internal tools for their colleagues. What's more, these numbers are projected to grow in the future.
The thing is, nowadays, even regular small businesses make use of several platforms to manage their daily operations. Typically, all these processes may become chaotic when a company grows. Generally, a typical internal process requires logging into one system and gathering information, validating this very info in another system, and then writing it into two other systems. Sounds hectic, right? Internal tool builders transform this flow into a single page and button process. In other words, they facilitate the whole process inside and out.
However, you don't pay your developers to spend hours on internal tools, do you? The thing is that, most often than not, any developer's backlog is full of customer-related tasks. However, despite limited resources, you still need internal tools. Well, it looks like we've got a kind of Catch-22 situation here. Jokes aside, the real question is not whether you need to develop admin tools or not, but how do you build them fast?
Low-code platforms to the rescue
Low-code development platforms such as Retool, Internal.io, or UI Bakery are designed to reinvent the way you develop internal tools. Using drag and drop and UI prebuilt components, templates, and data visualization tools along with rich APIs integration possibilities, engineers can build useful tools without much hassle.
Such builders provide the fastest way to create multifunctional admin tools for different departments. Building internal tools with low code is fast and cost-effective, not to mention that you don't have to code the project from scratch. What's more, sometimes, adopting the low-code approach in development is the only way to create an internal app. If your organization doesn't employ enough developers to concentrate on such tasks, choose low-code without thinking.
In fact, these are solid benefits below, as usually, dev teams are overwhelmed with dozens of tasks in the backlog. In this regard, speed is crucial, considering that operational teams can't wait too much before their request finally goes into development.
How to realize the importance of internal tools
So let's assume you're happy to proceed with internal tooling initiatives. What's the next step? How can one decide what internal tool your organization needs? How are your employees going to use it?
All the answers are pretty natural: just speak to your colleagues to determine their pain points. Ask them to enumerate the tasks that are cumbersome and time-consuming. Do they have repetitive tasks that can be automated? With this info at hand, you'll see a bigger picture and realize that internal tools aren't a fancy gimmick but a necessity.
What makes a decent internal tool?
It's not unusual when businesses dedicate a lot of effort to building and maintaining internal tools. However, the outcome may be confusing. So how does one develop a decent admin tool? Let's find out. When planning to develop a tool, think of the basic principles below:
Build them with care
When you are planning to develop internal tools, build them just like a customer-facing solution. Treat the colleagues you're building the tool for as clients if you will. Internal or not, any tool should function the best possible way, and your colleagues should feel at ease when using them.
Make use of reusable components
When developing internal tools, feel free to reuse some UI components that you've crafted to develop customer-facing software. For instance, UI component libraries provide engineers with the opportunity to reuse "Buttons," "Inputs," "Tables," "Forms," or "Filters" easily. Do you want to save development time and costs? Feel free to reuse components you already have.
Test it, don't waste it
Again - even if you develop tools for internal use only, it doesn't mean you can avoid conducting user testing procedures when creating admin apps. Proper communication is the key here. For example, if it happens that some of your UX designers have free time, involve them in the project. Established collaboration between teams results in fewer bugs and less maintenance in the future.
Give it a green light across departments
Make sure team members across departments get the best from internal tools. You often don't need to develop specific internal tools for your sales and marketing teams. Do your homework and find out whether they might have similar requirements and needs. If so, it's easy to repurpose a certain internal tool for several teams.
Think about security
Just like any commercial product, internal tools should be protected properly as well. After all, what we're dealing with here is personal and sensitive data. This way, develop them with security in mind. Protect your internal tools to avoid data leakages and ensure there are no back doors for cybercriminals.
Internal tools allow business teams to streamline their processes and services like no other. As a business heavily relying on custom internal tools, we know firsthand how powerful they are. They make your sales and customer service departments more productive, and your business becomes more manageable as a whole.
Secondly, the tools you build for your colleagues indirectly affect the customer experience and their relationship with your business. Summing up all this information, it would be fair to conclude that the use of internal tools is going to become commonplace in any industry and for almost any business.
Hire low-code professionals
In regard to all these insights, it would be fair to conclude that low-code tools work great for solving problems of different consumer groups. Whether you intend to develop a custom CRM, a customer database editor, or an onboarding app for future employees, low-code platforms work best. However, often businesses need a technological partner to support these activities.
No wonder companies of all sizes resort to low code/no code development experts. With over seven years of low-code development experience, our company helps businesses develop robust (and secure) apps that cater to unique business needs. Our team of consultants provides expert advice on low-code platforms for companies that want to innovate. Contact us, we’ll help determine your low-code strategy from A to Z.
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