Tuesday, July 4, 2017

How Low Code databases empower citizen developers

In addition to providing businesses with new and affordable means of database management, low-code databases have also empowered citizen developers in contributing new ideas and innovation into the market place. While in the past such development possibilities were limited only to those with advanced programing capabilities, the door is now open for people with a greater diversity of perspectives and backgrounds to build database systems. Because of the rise of citizen developers empowered by low cost databases, there is now a whole new range of custom options and applications for businesses; no longer must businesses get stuck with one-size-fits-all applications.

What exactly is a citizen developer? This term has seen an uptick in interest and shows up in many new tech articles. A citizen developer is a name given to developers who do not have a formal programing background, or formal coding skills, but who are nevertheless involved in application and platform development. With the aid of Low-Code development tools, professionals in a variety of industries and positions can quickly and efficiently create applications.

When we refer to Low-Code development and Low-Code databases like TeamDesk, QuickBase or Caspio, we are talking about a platform of tools that enable the ability to create advanced customized applications without the need for extensive hand coding and without in-depth knowledge of programing languages. A low-code development platform for database creation may include tools like drag-and-drop, WYSIWYG (what you see is what you get) tools, and customizable templates. While Low-Code development tools may vary, they all center around the idea of being able to create and manage applications visually, instead of strictly though lines of coding.

The advantage of Low-Code development is that it allows individuals to create custom tools that are tailored-made to address industry specific challenges and needs. For example, a healthcare professional without coding knowledge, can use their experience to create a database that meets the needs of practicing nurses and doctors. While software professionals and developers may have the technical knowledge to build applications, they may not necessarily have the insights to create solutions truly tailored for specific industries. Considering how important data management is to businesses, there are unique advantages in being able to create easy to use visual database solutions.

Another advantage of these low-code development platforms is the ability to more quickly make changes and adapt a database application to a growing business. Often attempted to change a hand coded database or applications will lead to errors, if these changes are done by individuals not directly familiar with the source code. With a low-code solution changes can be made to a database system with the need for a complete development overhaul, and without the fear of doing possible harm to important source code.

Low-Code development platforms are expected to continue to keep growing. In fact, based on a 2015 study done by the technology research company Gartner Inc., 70 percent of companies will make citizen development a routine part of their operations. As the technology powering Low-Code platforms continues to grow, so will the number of citizen developers. Low-Code enables new perceptive and imaginative solutions from otherwise unlikely sources.

Tuesday, June 6, 2017

Time to Replace Your Excel Spreadsheets with an Online Database

There was a time when companies used to heavily rely on Excel and its expertise to formulate tables and charts on spreadsheets. Complex calculations, mathematical simulations, production of tables and graphs are what Excel is majorly popular for. Undoubtedly, it is an easy and widely-used program. However, it often makes the data handler work harder than smarter. Users often face Excel chaos when they are depending on it for data organizing and sharing with other stakeholders via email. Often, Excel files appear confusing with corrupted data, and may cost the company large sum of money & time and incorrect decisions.

Regular updates to Excel spreadsheets by multiple users make the file prone to errors and difficult to reconcile. Such chaos is detrimental to any organization which highly depends on database records. Many businesses have now outgrown Excel leaving many of its functions unexplored. Reasons provided are that it is a spreadsheet developed to keep numerical information, execute calculations and simulate a worksheet. Companies require something more than that – they need a proper database of their records. Considering the potential Excel chaos, here are the signs for when it’s time to replace your Excel spreadsheet with an online database.

1.Excel is not a Database.

First it’s important to know the difference between an online database and a spreadsheet. An online database such as SaaS can hold a greater bulk of numbers, texts, images and codes. It follows a pattern of logics and rules to keep the data organized. These rules enable the database to determine relationships between data, automatically update information throughout multiple departments, and permit queries to be created against the data. Excel on the other hand is not a database. It lacks the concept of data types and fails to enforce data validation. It is unable to colligate files and images with data. You cannot create relationship with another data set, and you can easily end up with clambered data. Replacing your Excel with a custom web-database would modify these situations for you. With SaaS online database, you can automatize data accumulation, changes, and distribution. It can handle multiusers and virtual databases of any size.

2.Uncontrollable Spreadsheets.

It’s time for you to move to an online database if you need to scroll through hundreds of spreadsheet rows to trace a mere figure. Spreadsheets become clumsy when they are handling large data reams. For such cases, online database is a wise decision which can find your buried and old data more quickly and easily.

3.Handling Sensitive Data.

The level of security Excel offers is very low considering the sensitive data companies share on working spreadsheets. You cannot do much to keep the Excel files from being sent outside your company. Due to feeble encryption of Excel, the internet is full of cracking programs that can uncrack a password-protected Excel file.

4.Multiple Versions of One File.

An excel file can be modified by one user at a time. A new user cannot make any changes and save it unless the previous user closes the Excel worksheet. One way to counter this confusion and inaccuracy is to copy an existing or save the new file and merge changes later. One of the most suited advantages of using an online database is that multiple users can share it at a time over a single network. They can update data which is accessible to all others in a company immediately.

5.Data Control.

In spreadsheets, users can enter any kind of text in data cells leading to useless and inaccurate results. With database rules, users are restricted to enter only a specific data type in the given field. This leads to reliable and cleaner results.


One practicable use of online databases is that they grab information directly from customers, be it from their website or any custom web program. Database provides an online form which the customers are likely to fill in rather than entering their data into an Excel data cells.

If your company is one of those having to deal with these excel chaos, then it’s time for you to replace your Excel spreadsheet with an online database. An online database allows the spreadsheets to be imported and exported and converts your data into a custom web-database without any programming. It is time for you to make a move and start using an online database.

If you want to check the online database advantages, I recommend you to try leading online database platforms like QuickBase, TeamDesk or Caspio.

Tuesday, May 30, 2017

Low-Code Databases VS Enterprise Solutions

Have you considered bringing your database online instead of relying on traditional enterprise solutions? You may be wondering what the benefits are in using a Low-Code Database and how it may impact your business and processes as a whole. In many cases, moving to a Low-Code Databases offers some distinct advantages, and this article will list some key reasons business choose to rely on Low-Code Databases.


Reason 1 Cost:

Perhaps the most obvious reason for moving away from an enterprise platform, is to help your businesses’ bottom line; Low-Code Databases have lower costs than even some of the most economical enterprise solutions out there. The reason for this is, with an enterprise solution you have to pay for the license to use the software, which by itself is quite high, and then there are fees associated with software maintenance and development for customization. With Low-Code Databases, you are essentially renting the software, which does not have to be installed directly onto your hardware, so you will only have to worry about a monthly subscription fee. You are also able to control cost, as you can scale up or down and quickly adjust things like storage space or number of subscribers as needed.

Reason 2 Advanced Availability:

A distinct advantage to moving to an online database is harnessing the convenience and accessibility of the cloud. You can access your database and work from virtually anywhere, and from any mobile devices like smartphones and tablets. In addition, this ability for data to be accessed and exchanged from anywhere also enables you to connect your employees, partners, and clients, no matter where they are. Many businesses today use a global workforce, and an online database allows for an easy solution to the hurdles of communication and data accessibility.

Reason 3 Less Resources in Maintaining Tech Infrastructure:

As mentioned earlier, the lower cost is often listed as an appealing reason for businesses to switch from enterprise solutions. However, besides just limiting the amount of financial resources that need to be put into database solutions, having your database online also reduces the amount of time and labor required. This is because with online Low-Code databases, they take care of a lot of the heavy lifting for you. Updating, patching, and monitoring is done by the vendor. With enterprise, the responsibility lies on you, since you are essentially taking ownership of the software when you purchase the license. Moreover, most online databases offer some type of back-up service and secure storage in the event of hardware failures or server crash. Again, with enterprise, these solutions are solely the business owner’s responsibility.

As the technology and availability of cloud computing continues to increase, there is a growing number of Low-Code Database offerings that can meet the need of a variety of businesses. While there are some exceptions (such as in cases where the business does not prefer to rely on internet access for database management, or cases where only custom software would suffice for the business needs) a Low-Code Database is a smart solution.
You can create your online database using the following web-based platforms:

Monday, March 20, 2017

Mobile Apps VS. Web Apps

One of the biggest transformations the Internet world has seen in recent years is increasingly extensive usage of mobile devices to access the web. Google has stated that more than 50% of online searches are now coming from mobile devices, and other studies suggest that this number is even higher. In fact, mobile searches have outpaced desktop searches in terms of overall search volume. What this means for businesses is that having a mobile presence is not a luxury any longer, but it is a crucial part of a business's online strategy. There are different ways to achieve the goal of making your applications available on portable devices, such as smartphones and tablets. A business may have either a web app or a mobile app, or both. So, let’s take a look at the differences between web apps and mobile apps and let’s try to figure out which one is a better approach for your business.

What is a web app?

If you have a database solution already created for your business, you may be wondering what does it mean to have a web app. After all, if my database is already online, why can’t people just access it using phones or tablets with internet access? Mobile optimization is the process of tailoring an application to make it look and function correctly on mobile devices. Therefore, a web app is specifically designed to be displayed and used on mobile screens. It is ready to use directly from a mobile web browser and doesn’t need to be downloaded. This means that within a web app, all database elements like tabs, buttons etc. can be clearly seen and opened on a portable touch-screen device, rather than using a traditional keyboard and mouse interface.

When should I use a web app?

Web apps are easier to create than mobile apps. In general, online database platforms already have built-in features for adapting the site to fit mobile devices. As an additional advantage, you won’t have to create separate web apps for Android and iPhone. Online database software requires no special skills to use, so any business can quickly benefit from offering a web app.

What is a mobile app?

If you use any smartphone, then you are familiar with mobile apps. Mobile apps, sometimes referred to as ‘native’ apps, are applications (software) you download to your phone. Mobile apps allow you to do a variety of things, like listening to a music, shopping online, accessing stock quotes and more. Unlike web apps, mobile apps can also be used offline, even during periods when no Internet connection is available. While offline, a mobile app saves the data locally into the device memory and updates an online database whenever Internet connection is restored.
Mobile apps can utilize all the features available on smartphones or tablets. This means they can do things like accessing a phone’s camera, sending user alerts or using a phone’s instant messaging technology.

When should I use a mobile app?

If you are considering using a mobile app, there are few important things to know. First, you should be aware that a mobile app is more complex and therefore is more difficult to develop rather than a web app. A mobile app will require programming skills and therefore it is more expensive to develop. Secondly, you should be aware that you’ll have to create separate mobile app versions for Android and for Apple iOS. This means you would need a knowledge of the programing languages or would need to hire someone who has the expertise for each particular operating system. On a bright side, the mobile apps allow creating a unique interface, customized to fit portable devices. Also, mobile apps are recommended in case when you have very specific requirements for the application, for example, if you need to integrate it with some other systems.

An overview of pros and cons

Web App

Mobile App

+ Easy to build
+ Nothing to download
+ Platform-independent (works on Android, Apple iOS, Etc.)
+ Less updating and maintenance
+ Inexpensive to develop
+ Able to utilize smartphone features such as a camera or a GPS sensor
+ Available offline
+ Meet specific requirements (for example, a unique user interface or a need for an integration with other systems)
- Not available offline
- Less options to use phone features such as a camera or a GPS sensor
- More difficult to build; requires programming knowledge
- Requires creating different versions of the app for Android and iOS
- Expensive to develop
- Requires more maintenance and updating


As mobile devices dominate the internet, businesses need a good mobile presence to succeed online. Your choice between a web app and a mobile app depends on your business goals, your budget, and your web development abilities. Overall, a web app is easier and faster to create, while a mobile app would require programming skills. While mobile apps do provide some powerful features, a web app would still help your site to succeed online. Leading online database platforms like QuickBase, TeamDesk or Caspio provide readymade web and mobile interfaces for you to choose from.

Thursday, February 2, 2017

The Citizen Development Trend

I’ve got to tell you about a brilliant trend in application design. Citizen Developers—users— who are creators. There are employees with little to no knowledge of code, who with the nodding approval of their companies’ IT departments, are designing business applications with runtime environments. You see, even though they aren’t developers by profession, as citizen developers lack conventional coding skills, they still have a robust determination to build applications.

You might wonder, how did this citizen development trend come about? First, there was an increase in both accessible software and tech savvy employees. Secondly, they design applications that actually focus on tasks the partners and customers need right away, like asset tracking or joint project management. Thirdly, partners and customers are thrilled with these citizen developers, because they create applications faster than traditional coders. In other words, their applications give partners and customers access to unique information as soon as they need it…right away. Innovative businesses should leverage the creative force of these dynamic citizen developers.

As organizations modernize their workforce and launch products and services into new markets, leadership needs a tool that easily adapts to changing circumstances. Considering that workers in the business world have become smarter technically, and more tasks are automated, no-coding platforms are the evolution in efficiency and productivity. These no-code platforms empower managers, project leaders, and other workers with operational problems, to create fast solutions on their own. That’s why citizen development tools are such a hot trend among top corporations, including fortune 500 companies.

Low-code and no-code, drag and drop, cloud based tools empower users to make applications rather than code them. So companies are utilizing these low-code tools to create external-facing apps with broader accessibility. The era of coding, testing, debugging, and beta-testing has given way to citizen developers, with minimal to no IT expertise, creating business applications, ranging from CRM and ERP, to payment processing and customer support.

No-code and low-code solutions spearhead teams to make firm data-driven decisions in real-time. End users and their companies are excited about devising applications for their department, their company or the public using cloud computing and shared services, as well as fourth-generation language style development platforms.

The citizen development trend has ushered in an era where there is little difference between creators and users. And, though, professionals with coding and software development experience are still fundamentally important, many recruiters won’t just focus on those skills when filling development positions. Also, decisions about the technology a company uses, something that was once exclusively managed by IT departments, are now handled by basically anyone, from business analysts to salespeople.

If you weren’t already sold on the trend of citizen development, you will be when I tell you about another major advantage it brings—Cost reduction. Organizations are quickly switching from outdated legacy software to less expensive no-code, cloud solutions. Predicting what resources your business will need in the future, without overspending, is one of the most difficult aspects of running a company or department. However, most no-code solutions offer the benefit of a monthly subscription plan that’s immediately adjusted, scaling up to meet increased demand or scaling down in periods of reduced interest and activity. Also, they let companies control the number of users needed. By enabling businesses to delete users or decrease storage space to save more money, they only have to pay for what they use. Moreover, applications can be updated automatically to support the newest processes, eliminating time-consuming software practices that use to be part of standard software development.

Furthermore, managers no longer have to guess their company’s needs. Business application platforms react to organizational requirements as they evolve. They continuously advance business processes. In the length of time that it would take a manager to plan what his department needs and then to compile a presentation to IT, they can develop and deploy the actual application they want to their team, instead. In addition to the empowerment of easily developing their own solutions, most no-code services offer users a dynamic third party system. That’s right, they deliver an ecosystem that consistently interacts and transforms with every element, to firmly connect employees to the tools they already use.

These days, citizen developers are adjusting and scaling their projects as their businesses change, instead of waiting on IT to produce a new solution or recreate an old legacy code. Due to this advancement, 56 percent of technology budgets are now controlled outside of the IT department.

However, many organizations still lean heavily on old-style inflexible methods like legacy code solutions or disconnected spreadsheets and an excessive cumulation of emails. Those approaches jeopardize the task of managing multiple versions and configurations of software systems overtime, leading to disorganization, errors, and aggravation. But, the Citizen development trend is met with resistance by some IT departments due to control, reliability, and data security issues. In fact, IT departments without defined, updated policies on these solutions might incorrectly label citizen developers as employees operating shadow IT activities. An assumption of shadow IT toward citizen developers would most likely prove counterproductive and even harmful to any business.

Most traditional IT organizations with rigid approval procedures require employees to present a compelling case before they’ll develop a new technology solution. In addition, even when a strong case is made and approved, it might take months before a solution is initiated because of the huge backlogs most IT departments have. Some Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) providers, for example, online database platforms like QuickBase, TeamDesk, Caspio etc are equally accepting of both the demands on business users, with their new capabilities as citizen developers, and the needs of the IT department to direct the company’s technology. These SaaS providers bridge the gap, offering a sought after middle ground for both custom solutions and IT security. They can also lessen the IT department’s backlog. Moreover, they can even provide IT with the control necessary to manage agile development, while still empowering business users to create, deploy and change their own solutions with little to no coding skills required.

Using SaaS Web-Database products like QuickBase, TeamDesk or Caspio is a smart, resourceful way to meet business needs, speedily and proficiently. SaaS products will play a significant role in maintaining a balance between IT departments and users as the citizen development trend continues to rise.

Friday, January 27, 2017

Advantages of Online Database Software

Businesses are increasingly taking up the option of online database management systems as it is convenient to incorporate into their operations. Other than the obvious benefit of having the database online, thus increasing the ease of accessing information from anywhere around the world, there are other benefits that are not commonly realized at first glance.

Advantages of Web-Based Databases

Investing in web-based database management software allows employees to maintain access and simplifies the tracking of valuable information on the database. The process of using such software involves access of a website to store, modify and manage data. For an organization that considers moving their database online, it is highly recommended that the benefits of the solution be at hand for optimum exploitation of this service.

Save Capital

Online database software saves organizations a great deal of money, as it is an alternative to buying a software program for the company. This method conventionally involves paying for a software program and an additional cost of licensing for every computer that uses it. This translates into high cost. Using an online database, however, is cheaper as computers used access the software online. In addition, the cost of investing in servers for storage of data is eliminated.


There is flexible use in online database software as a business only pays for the storage space they consume. This eliminates the trouble of purchasing new servers when there is growth or eliminating servers when they are not needed any more. This thus simplifies scaling up or down in an organization as one need not worry about extra costs from servers or database management.

Technical Support

Another benefit is that the burden of technical support is lifted from the company and goes to the organization offering the online database management software as a service. If there are any problems with the database management system, the organization is contacted and they are responsible for maintenance as it is always stipulated on the contract.  The IT department of the company receiving the service can therefore focus on other issues.

Easy and Collaborative Access

Using online database software allows all employees access vital information regardless of their location. Therefore, as long as one has access to the internet, work can be done at any time as information is available 7 days a week, 24 hours a day. An added benefit to this is that employees at different locations can work on a project seamlessly despite not being in the same geographical area.

Data Security

Having the company’s information on some specific hardware poses a huge liability for a company in terms of data security. The hardware can crash, or get destroyed by natural calamity, risking loss of a large amount of data. Having online databases, however, increases data security. Data can be protected on the cloud through passwords and high levels of encryption. They, therefore, eliminate finicky hardware that is unreliable, and sophisticated to implement.

Gathering Information Online

Having the database online allows data to be collected through web forms with cloud computing solutions. Information can be easily collected from customers and employees, and then automatically entered as a new record into the database. These web forms come in several templates and companies can further customize them as required. Information can also be gathered through tables in emails. An online database therefore increases the number of ways information can be collected, stored, and simplifies collection of information.

Globalized Workforce

Several companies have gone global, while others have it in their long-term plans. Going global is accompanied with challenges on data exchange and global communication. Online databases offer a perfect solution through cloud computing. Data can be accessed from anywhere in the world, as long as there is an internet connection.

Increase Project Efficiency

Project management involves a plethora of individuals and tools to be effective. By having a pre-built application in a matter of minutes by using the online database allows projects to be deployed faster. These pre-built applications an easily be customized to suit ones needs thus increasing project efficiency.

Even the Playing Field

Small organizations face high competition from large organizations in the same line of business. With online database software, small organizations are at liberty to make use of some of the tools used by the large organizations, thus allowing them a fair chance at competing. They do not need to purchase big servers used by Fortune 100 companies that do not fit their budget. They simply pay for what they need.

You can create your online database using the following web-based platforms:

Tuesday, January 26, 2016

Salesforce Alternatives: Options for Small Businesses

Salesforce is credited as one of the best CRM systems out there. And probably – it is. The only thing is that Salesforce may be the best CRM system for Enterprise. On the other hand, for the small companies or individuals it is a sledgehammer to crack nuts. Moreover, you have to consider that companies don’t run on CRM alone. They need various pieces of business software to run their business properly. That's why the quest for Salesforce alternatives always has been and still remains relevant.

Too Small?

Lately, Salesforce tried to expand their presence in SMB by presenting three small business CRM solutions for $25, $65 and $125/user/month. IMHO, for startups and small businesses the price over $40-50 per user automatically makes affordability a great issue. So here is what you get from Salesforce for relatively reasonable $25:
  • Up to 5 users, only 1 list;
  • Automatic data capture;
  • Customizable sales tracking for one list;
  • Intelligent follow-up reminders;
  • Contact auto-complete;
  • Shared address book;
  • Sent-email notifications;
  • Smart mobile apps;
  • Chrome extension.
Not impressed? So am I. Looks like while trying to win SMB Salesforce turned too "small". For that price, functionality is way too limited. Also, it's not flexible: you cannot customize it for your company needs. This means you'll probably have to change the usual ways of your business rather than adapt the system to fit your demands. What's more, the system inherited general Salesforce drawbacks:
  • Complexity (there's a good chance that you'll need to hire someone to manage it);
  • Hidden costs (third-party solutions from AppExchange may be awesome, but they cost money);
  • Not too friendly UI.
For many SMBs, these factors are enough to start looking for Salesforce alternative.

Where to Seek Alternatives to Salesforce?

When seeking alternatives to Salesforce, you'll first have to decide what exactly you need – specifically CRM system or a comprehensive software to satisfy all your data management needs including CRM – like online databases.

CRM systems

At this point, everything is clear: you search for Salesforce alternative that is cheaper and simpler, right? Then you might want to take a look at these ten systems, which made it to my personal TOP:
Bottom line: these CRM software products all have couple things in common. First of all, affordability: they all have offerings under $25/user – even when you grow beyond a handful of users. Secondly, they obviously put MUCH effort in staying dead-simple to use.

Online databases

Before I get to online databases, I'd like to stress out one point that made me mention them in the post about Salesforce.com alternatives. If you are a startup or a small company you have to keep in mind that sales data is just one type of data you'll have to handle. Finance, marketing, legal, project management, and maybe even HR – you'll have to set this all up. You can't do it with Salesforce, which means you'll have to spend additional funds to buy corresponding software. Another option is to purchase the customizable software. And that's where online database steps in.
To make long story short, the custom online database is like Lego: you build precisely what you need of different software "blocks". Moreover, unlike Lego, you can shape the form of these blocks – add required or remove unnecessary functions. Thus, once taking some time to tune the system (if needed – with the Support assistance) you can develop not only a CRM alternative to Salesforce but accounting, estimation, project management and other apps. Generally, any other type of business software a small company may need.
And yeah, the vast majority of vendors offer the price per user per month from $5 to $20 with a minimum of three-five users to start. Here are several online database vendors you might want to consider if you have just realized that you'll need more than just CRM:
  • Caspio is one of the leaders of the industry; probably that's why it's one of the most expensive as well;
  • QuickBase is a bit complex, but good tool for team collaboration (or was a good tool?.. Little birdie told me that after Intuit had announced that it's selling QuickBase, many staff people are looking for another job);
  • TeamDesk is minimalistic in design, but dead simple and at the same time surprisingly powerful and affordable one-stop shop for data management;
  • TrackVia focuses on building quick, graphical apps;
  • Zoho Creator lets you build advanced apps with scripting, but requires decent coding skills;
  • Knack is a simple database builder for beginners.
The essence of online databases is that instead of spending thousands on multiple solutions for various tasks, they allow small businesses to invest in a single SaaS. This solution then lets companies build virtually any type of business software they may need, be it CRM, ERP, BPM, EAM, SCM, HR, or some other set of capital letters :). Thus, small companies save valuable time, money, and resources.

Pick Your Salesforce Alternative

Let me sum it up: you can replace Salesforce either with another cheaper and simpler CRM system or with a versatile tool like an online database that will deliver you more value beyond CRM. Both kinds of alternatives to Salesforce.com are more cost-effective. The choice is up to you to make!

Monday, January 25, 2016

Top 5 Online Project Management Databases

The essence of any business is making money. The mechanism of businesses is delivering projects on time and under budget. Thus, keeping track of all the tasks and processes that are needed to accomplish a project is one of the top priorities.
There are dozens of specialized project management tools (online and offline) out there. They are mostly single-tasking applications worth a good buck. But considering my blog's subject, I'll be talking specifically about the online database software that among a lot of functionality in a number of different areas can also provide decent project management solutions.
So here is my rating of 5 web databases that offer pre-designed project management databases templates or let you build your own PM app from a scratch to precisely tailor your business needs:
Transpose is a relatively new online database management platform built on secure enterprise-grade technology. As a database for project manager, it has the fields and views that allow for task management, progress tracking, and team collaboration. Transpose also provides several views for project information management. Users can choose a table view (rows/columns), a calendar view (tasks against schedules), a Kanban view, or a compact view (see the whole picture at a high level). The system also makes uploaded files searchable by converting them into text. Pre-built PM templates are available.
Generally, Transpose's PM tool offers solutions that may fit individuals and small to mid-sized business owners. Though for now the functionality is somewhat limited, perhaps, as more users join the system, new features will be introduced.
Zengine is out on the market for quite some time now. Today, it offers users the ability to quickly put together data-driven applications (including PM) with very little knowledge or background in software. Users can track processes, collaborate and share information on the team, create and export report views – really easy.
But looks like that for this kind of simplicity Zengine is, to some extent, paying with functionality – you will get just the basic set. On the other hand, this problem is in part solved by the great library of Zengine third-party integrations (like MailChimp, Quickbooks, Twilio, etc.)
3. Caspio
Caspio is one of the leaders of online database management industry. And, of course, it has a good and worthy solution to offer for project management, either in the form of ready-made web applications or in the form of point-and-click app builder to make your own PM tool.
On top of it Caspio provides expert support and a very flexible price plan.
Zoho Projects is an application by well-known Zoho Corporation, launched specifically to deal with project management. Although developers claim that the platform can be used by teams of all sizes, it obviously suits best for small to medium-level companies. The most attractive features of Zoho software, from my point of view, are its flexible and inexpensive pricing structure, a rich variety of integrations, and communication tools.
At the same time, the biggest Zoho Projects drawback is that the best features are only available with the most expensive plans. Also, as for the award-winning company, Zoho customer support leaves much to be desired.
* Initially, I've planned to share the second place between Zoho Projects and Intuit QuickBase. But almost three months later after Intuit announced that QuickBase is going to be sold, its fate is still unknown. It is (or was?..) really good tool for team collaboration, but rumors are flying around that many leading staff members are looking for another place to implement their skills... So I prefer for now not to include QB to my rating.
TeamDesk has been present on the market for over a decade now. Although it's not advertised as widely as it competitors like Caspio, QuickBase or Zoho, this custom online database delivers great web-based application solutions, including database for project management. You have three options:
  • Get a pre-built all-in-one project management database;
  • Build your own PM tool from a wide range of pre-defined templates;
  • Start your own PM tool from a scratch.
In either case, you'll get a centralized but at the same time completely customizable, scalable and searchable environment to track project tasks, issues, and bugs, as well as due dates and statuses. It can be viewed as timeline (Gantt chart) or calendar.
Minimalistic design and zero programming features make TeamDesk dead simple to build applications that can precisely fit a specific workflow or way of doing business.
Project Management Database – Your Superpower
This rating doesn't claim to be super exhaustive or anyhow impartial. These are just mine subjective impressions on available database software. Moreover, lots of new utilities appearing on the Web every now and then that can satisfy the most elaborate requests. I can just add that as you can see, all of the featured app builders might help a company build their own custom project management tool. Some require very little coding knowledge, some fit better for the more technical users. Anyway, it's hard to argue that creating your own customized project management software is like having a new superpower. Use it wisely :)

Friday, January 22, 2016

Business Database Trends 2016 – What's Around the Corner?

The new year has begun, and this is a good time to look forward and try to see what the day to come is bearing for us. As since the area of my interests includes business data management, naturally, I'm focusing on business database trends that will intensify or emerge in 2016.
So here is my top of digital business trends in data management field.
1. Faster migration of business database to the cloud
Hosted databases have been around for years now (take TeamDesk, Zoho, Caspio, QuickBase, etc.), but for business moving a database to the Web still is more a trend than a conventional solution. Two major obstacles that halt transition process are the security concerns and cloud costs. Therefore, only 37% of U.S. small businesses have fully adopted cloud computing, according to Forbes. On the other hand, digital commerce trends demonstrate that cloud solutions will evidently become more secure, and the technology will be getting cheaper. Due to this, the number of businesses that will move their databases online is expected to reach 78% by 2020.
  1. Shifting database for business to mobile
Moving to the Web will naturally trigger discovering new ways to access and work with data over smartphones and tablets. The reason for this is that today 80% of mobile devices owners use them to surf the Internet. And the role of mobile computing is increasing exponentially. And I bet that one of the most important trends in mobile - when it comes to databases – will be creating a reliable application that will function properly even when a network connection is unavailable.
  1. Merging different database standards, e.g. SQL and NoSQL
Today's business environment is getting more and more data-heavy, and this data comes in a huge variety of forms that SQL is not always able to handle. Hybrid SQL-NoSQL database solutions combine the advantage of being compatible with many SQL applications and providing the scalability of NoSQL ones. Some steps to bridging SQL and NoSQL have already been made (NuoDB, Clustrix, VoltDB, etc.), but this is still the grey technology area where the biggest breakthroughs are yet to be made.
  1. Managing, analyzing business sensors data in real time and converting it into 'Clean Data.'
Soon web-connected sensors will be inside all kinds of items around you. They will provide companies with all kinds of information about their customers, employees, and operations in real time. Furthermore, developers will be paying lots of attention to improving current and creating new ways of real-time data analysis to make better use of constantly incoming data (like Informatica does). From my point of view, the most likely outcome of these efforts will be transforming Big Data into Clear Data – the sorted data sets ready to be used like the out-of-the-box product.
  1. Automated decision-making
Today data and analytics are just tools for decision-makers. But this will inevitably change in foreseeable future. It already is changing. The first step here was made quite some time ago with data-driven predictions and/or forecasting under specific conditions. My guess is that automated data-driven decision-making will be the next big step in database software for business development (check'em out: SAS, FICO, Scorto).
So to make the most of your online database software, keep an eye on the latest digital business trends we've marked out. The future may be much closer than you expect :)

Wednesday, January 20, 2016

Online Custom Database vs. Custom Developed Database

From time to time all throughout my professional activity I run into people who totally mess up web database terminology. One of the most glaring examples is confusing terms 'Online custom database' and 'Custom-developed database'. They are frequently labeled as synonyms that basically indicate the same thing.
Though, for outsiders, these terms may really sound pretty much similar to each other, as a matter of fact, they represent two diametrically opposite approaches to a custom database development.
The first one is applied when the matter concerns a hosted customizable database software, which can be modified by the USER at any moment. On the other hand, when a custom-developed database is the subject, it is usually said about the software that was built according to a client's specific requests but is supported and can be modified only by the VENDOR.
For better clarity in understanding the difference, here is the table comparing these two custom database solutions.
Custom Database Solutions
Online Custom Database
Custom Developed Database
Getting started
Start is fast. You can create a database from a scratch or just upload your existing spreadsheet. Moreover, professional support as IT consultants for new users is provided by most vendors. Some of them can even create a database for you for free.
Traditional approach when the client is separated from developers by formal methods of development is applied. Every modification of original design has to be discussed and approved. Thus, you have to wait until a vendor presents a ready product.
You only use functionality necessary for the present moment. But at any moment you can modify the software in a real time, adding functions you need or removing the ones you don't require anymore.
The developer implements customers business processes according to your requirements. But any workflow change takes time to carry out, and the database may be not available during the upgrade.
Cost efficiency
The majority of hosted custom database providers have pretty straightforward pricing policy and don't charge extra for changes made within packages. That means you control all development costs.
The initial cost is usually higher, and additional expenses can happen when your requirements change.
Interface consistency
Vendors use standard intuitive elements to build your application’s interface. At the same time, they can be fine-tuned to satisfy a particular operator – by operator himself or by the vendor.
The interface is developed according to your given specifications.
Business process changes
In case your business process changes, you can easily adapt your database software to precisely fit your modified needs. Or you can address support for assistance, that is usually delivered in 24-48 hours.
To change workflow process, you must make a request to the developer and wait till it's applied. Changing process can last from couple days to several weeks or even months, depending on complexity.
System usage and support
Due to a high competition and client's ability to change vendors in no time, providers value their customers more. Because great help service makes more clients, support teams try to take care of all problems ASAP.
The customer depends on the developer greatly, because it's the vendor who holds the keys of your software. The developer resolves problems according to the type of support agreement. Extended support costs more.

Which Custom Database Software Do You Need?
Summing it up, I can say that customizable online database will fit your needs the best when you run unique business with ever-evolving workflow processes in agile markets and know that you're going to expand and scale your business periodically. In my honest opinion,
On the other hand, you should better use the custom-developed database when you know for sure that one ready-made database solution fits your needs right from the box. Then it will serve you for years without the need for major changes.
Personally, I prefer online database - it’s more flexible. If you decide to go with online database, I suggest you choose one of the following: QuickBaseTeamDeskCaspio, or Zoho.
At the same time, as you can see, both solutions offer building custom database software tailored to your needs. But the devil is in the detail. So, know the difference – the right choice can save you lots of nerves and energy that you need to run your business.