mrc's Cup of Joe Blog

Save money, time, and increase business productivity

Author name: Joe Stangarone

Joe Stangarone is a 30+ year veteran of the IT industry and president of mrc—the software company behind the award winning development platform, m-Power. Joe shares his leadership and technology insights through the Cup of Joe Blog, focusing primarily on ways businesses can save time, money, and increase productivity using technology.

Case Study: How to get the most out of low-code

When most companies look at low-code software, they’re trying to fix a specific need. Maybe they get it to create a specific web application or system, speed up development, or help their end users create the applications they need. Of course, it’s great for all of that. But…it can be so much more.

The fact is, most companies aren’t getting the maximum value out of their low-code investment. If you’re only using it to solve one problem or help in just one area of the business, you’re missing out.

How to create a custom CRM system with low-code

analyticsIf your business had a choice between an off-the-shelf CRM system and a CRM that’s custom-built to your needs, which would you choose (assuming you’d get either one immediately)? I’d say the vast majority of businesses would prefer a custom CRM. After all, custom CRM systems offer a number of advantages, such as:

  • Scale without user fees: Off-the-shelf CRM systems typically charge per user…which can quickly drive up the cost in larger companies. With a custom CRM system, you can scale across your entire company without user fees!
  • Custom Workflow Processes: You can build custom workflow processes into any aspect of your CRM. For instance, you can create customer onboarding workflows that fire automatically when a lead becomes a customer.
  • Integration with existing software or third-party tools: For example, you might want to update your ERP system or pass data to a third-party tool using an API.
  • Deploy anywhere: Most off-the-shelf CRM systems only run in the cloud. A custom CRM can run in the cloud or on-premise. The choice is yours.
  • Control the security: Every business has different security needs. With a custom CRM, you can control how much or how little security you’d like to have.

With these advantages, why doesn’t every business opt for custom CRM systems? It all comes down to development time. Building a custom CRM from scratch can be expensive and easily take months.

The big question: What if you could create custom CRM systems in days or weeks? What if you could get all of the benefits of a custom CRM with non of the drawbacks?

It’s not as hard as you think. We recently released a new video that shows you how easily you can create a custom CRM system using low-code development. In the video, we create a CRM system that includes custom workflow processes, API integration with third-party software, and ERP integration. The best part: The whole process only takes 45 minutes. You can watch the video below:

Want to learn more? Set up a demo here: Set up a demo.

Thanksgiving Day Football: Fun Facts, Stats, and Web Apps!

In honor of the upcoming Thanksgiving holiday, we decided to celebrate in true m-Power fashion: We made a data-driven web application! Better yet, it’s all about Thanksgiving Football! We grabbed all the Thanksgiving Football Game statistics we could find and put them in a database. Then, we created a few handy web applications that answer questions like:

  • What is my team’s record on Thanksgiving Day?
  • Which teams have made the most appearances on Thanksgiving day?
  • Who won last year (or any year, for that matter)?

Sounds exciting, right? You can find it here: Thanksgiving Football Statistics.

Bonus!

While we were building the applications, we ran across some great facts about the Thanksgiving Day football games. So, we’ve pulled some of the more interesting “fun facts” and listed them below. Enjoy!

Thanksgiving Football Fun Facts

  • The Detroit Lions(82 appearances) and Dallas Cowboys(54 appearances) have appeared in Thanksgiving Games most frequently, but…have never played each other.
  • The Lions and the Cowboys have only ever played home games on Thanksgiving (which explains the first fact).
  • Buffalo Bills running back O.J. Simpson holds the NFL record for most rushing yards (273) in a Thanksgiving game.
  • Reggie White won John Madden’s first-ever “Turkey Leg” award, which was given to the MVP of the Thanksgiving game starting in 1989.
  • The Jacksonville Jaguars are the only current team who have never played on Thanksgiving Day.
  • The only current teams who are winless on Thanksgiving are the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, Cincinnati Bengals, and Jacksonville Jaguars (because they haven’t played)
  • The Detroit Lions have the most Thanksgiving day wins (37), as well as the most Thanksgiving day losses (43).
  • The Brooklyn Dodgers are in the top 10 teams with the most Thanksgiving Day appearances…despite having folded in 1945.

Finally, from all of us here at mrc, we wish you safe travels and a very happy Thanksgiving!

5 (unique) ways to improve business productivity with technology

trendsIn this article, we’ll explore actionable ways that your business can improve productivity. Since this is such a broad topic, I’m focusing only on improving productivity through the use of technology.

In the spirit of productivity, I don’t want to hide these tips behind a long intro. Rather, let’s get straight to the point with a couple of notes before we dive in.

Case Study: Low-code doesn’t mean low customization

developmentThere are many myths floating around about low-code software. One of the most common myths: Low-code means low customization. There’s a general belief that low-code tools offer limited customization and functionality. Many believe there’s no way to add features or customize the output to perfectly fit their organization’s needs.

The reality: Every low-code platform is different, especially when it comes to customization. The problem is, when people use a basic low-code tool that limits their options, they assume that all low-code tools are similar. This isn’t the case.

The fact is, many enterprise-class low-code tools won’t have these limitations. You can customize applications however you wish. You can add custom logic or features if needed. You can even edit at the code level on some tools.

Here’s a case study that provides a great example of this. An automotive service company needed a way to create web applications and workflows that could be:

  • customized to their exact business needs
  • integrated with their existing systems
  • used to securely capture, share, and manage data across distributed locations
  • created and delivered quickly

After trying other low-code tools that lacked important features and customization options, they discovered the m-Power Development Platform. Read the whole case study to learn how m-Power addressed their needs and why they say, “m-Power owns the space on customization in terms of how well it integrates into what you’re doing and how easy you make it.”

How to create a web-based data management system in 7 minutes

analyticsHow easily (and securely) can you manage your business data? In my experience, businesses typically answer this question in one of three ways:

1.“We use spreadsheets to manage data”.
This is probably the most common response, but also the riskiest approach. Sure, spreadsheets are readily available and easy to work with. They do the job when you only have small amounts of data. The problem is that many businesses stick with this approach as their data grows. This is a mistake. Why? Spreadsheets aren’t designed to be multi-user data management tools. When you’re managing lots of data across many users, spreadsheets will waste time and lead to data errors.

2. “We don’t really have a good way for users to manage data.”
In many companies, data just sits in the database–inaccessible to business users. Sure, the IT department can run reports and make changes but no one else can.

3. “We have a web-based database management system.”
This is the ideal response. A web-based data management system provides a secure way for end users to manage database tables using a web browser. Security is in place to ensure that users can’t see or manage data that they’re not authorized to manage.

If you don’t have a web-based data management system yet, how do you create one? We’ve recently published a video that walks you through the whole process. In this video, we create three different applications that let users view and manage their database tables from a web browser. Then, we’ll add security to ensure that only specific users can modify the database. Finally, we’ll wrap everything up into a data management portal so users can easily access all of the applications. All this in 7 minutes! You can watch it here:

Want to learn more? Set up a demo here: Set up a demo.

How to create web-based reports with a database reporting tool

analyticsBusinesses collect and have access to more data than ever before. It’s a huge opportunity. They can analyze this data and use it to guide their strategic decisions.

The problem is, many businesses aren’t taking advantage of this opportunity. I see them making a couple of common mistakes with their data:

  1. First, they don’t use it. Their data just sits in their database (or in spreadsheets). As a result, they get no value from their data.
  2. Second, other businesses do analyze their data, but…do so very slowly. Often, reporting is still an IT function and there’s a backlog of report requests. Other times, they just don’t have the right tools to create web reports quickly. Whatever the reason, they’re stuck waiting around for their reports, which means they’re analyzing outdated data.

If you’re dealing with either of these issues, here’s a video to check out. It shows you how easily you can create web reports using a database reporting tool. In just under 7 minutes, you’ll see 3 different reporting types created…all without coding!

Want to learn more? Set up a demo here: Set up a demo.

5 canned reports that take the reporting burden off of IT

analyticsIf end-user reporting is a burden on your IT department, you’re certainly not alone. The question is…how can you reduce the amount of time your IT department spends creating end-user reports?

One way to fix the problem: Create canned reports with run-time options for end users. This lets your users quickly access the data they need, while reducing the time your IT department spends creating reports.

Here’s how it works: Your IT department creates the initial reports with run-time filters for the users. The users can select which data to display, or filter their data however they wish when they run the report. With the right run-time filters, users can use a single report in many different ways.