I cannot claim to know if folks are using Bubble widely for solutions to internal operations. As you well put it … Bubble can handle it easily but to create the app would require all the good stuff that is commonly known (functionality scope, building, etc etc … all the nine yards).
But seems that is happening more and more … take a look at this recent tweet (commented also by another valued member of this community @rico.trevisan)
As for using other app building platforms (that declare themselves or not as app builders) for business process solutions I think that all of these options are a wonderful thing with technology democratizing access to us as citizen builders.
I would enjoy either route as I am sure you will likely do so as well
Among the wider known “option 2” platforms like Airtable … there is a hidden gem called Podio (@Jici care to chime in?)
There are some pros and cons to consider in either way:
PROS for signing up with multiple SaaS softwares:
bugs are fixed by them, not you
chances are that those tools are better developed since there are teams that work full time improving their products
your eggs aren’t in one basket; if one tool crashes, others remain.
probably way less expensive in the short run (few years, depending on how much you’d invest by build it all)
CONS for signing up with multiple SaaS softwares:
like you said, those tools won’t necessarily be compatible with one another so you’ll have to find ways to make it all work (huge drawback in my experience)
universal tools are… well universal… chances are that there will be missing features you wish you had. And except sending a feature request, there isn’t much you can do about it.
PROS for building your own universal tool for your business:
everything’s centralized; you can cut by many folds the steps to get through your workflows (a very big win)
need a new feature? BAM you build it!
if you happen to develop something that other businesses would pay for, then your tools could even bring incomes. Or if your tools is so efficient, you could offer to manage other similar businesses’ workflows
CONS for building your own universal tool for your business:
it will most likely take twice as much time and effort to develop than you expect
may cost many dollars (time) to produce
when there’s a bug, you’re on your own
if you don’t take time (perhaps a lot) to plan your data structure and interface, you may end up with a crappy software your team will hate, wondering why you didn’t use existing solutions that might have worked just fine.
If you end up building the thing yourself (my opinion is you probably will, since you already tasted Bubble), please please please do please moderate the urge of starting to build too soon. Plan every step, every feature so that building the app will be like following a lego step-by-step manual. The building stage shouldn’t be mixed with the innovation/creative stage.
Also, while Bubble is very reliable, hiccups do happen. You want to depend upon other businesses as less as possible. My advice is to have a few automated workflows that export data (CSV or JSON) every day so if, one day, you hear on the news that Amazon’s servers were bombarded and all your data is gone, you can still survive and begin to work toward a new solution.
All great answers so far. I have built an app for internal use on Bubble and it is amazing what you can do. So I cannot recommend it enough. Plus you’ll learn an awesome new skill while working through the app.
It seems that the very standard way route today is to go with all these Saas: you take Pipedrive, and then you see that some employees need a to-do list, so you take Trello. And then you see that Pipedrive doesn’t deal well with products, so you take Shopify or Woocommerce/etc. And then you need a Gantt chart so you take Airtable or Clickup. Etc.
I may make sense for a company of 300 people with teams working separately, but maybe not for a 20-people company.
Yes that’s what I feel intuitively as well. Good to hear it!
@ydd - to directly answer your question - yes it is a good idea. Provided that enough people on your team get familiar and comfortable building on bubble. And you’ve received some great advice in earlier replies.
You are quite an early thinker. In a few years, many more small businesses will be building their own internal tools to solve the same issues you are facing. Stitching multiple SaaS offerings is not fun and their generality doesn’t suit every business. I think you are onto something that will become a competitive advantage in the years ahead.
Hey, how is it going with developing your internal tool? I am curious what progress you manage to achieve. From your post about Shopify and Pipedrive, I suspect you are unaware of how complex building such apps can be. I am not saying your idea is bad, but you can’t compare these platforms with homemade bubble apps. Also, things you mentioned in the first post can quickly become very complex.
I would love to hear more about your progress.
From my experience - a bespoke low-code app for a small company works well, but it is a constant development and maintenance.
As you said, building internal tools can quickly become very complex. And I did a lot of trials and errors myself. To sum it up: keep the UI and navigation as simple as possible. I’ve come up with a lot of tips for that since beginning of this “all in one tool”.
With that in mind, the tool I built is used by all employees and they really like it!
The best thing is to have a central database, it changes everything…
New internal tools can then be built within one day and instantly profit from all the other data types in the site.
I’ve built an internal tool like that for a second company and they love it too!
Just wanted to chime in and say that I’m also using Bubble primarily as a platform for developing internal tools for a small nonprofit. No existing services could do exactly what we needed as far as tracking the work that my team does.
My biggest concern is what happens in the long run when someone new “inherits” this system from me. Have I built it in such a way that someone new to Bubble will be able to understand how to troubleshoot issues and add new features? I’ve had “documentation” on my list for quite some time, but because maintaining this site is only a portion of my job, I haven’t had a chance to get to it yet. What are your thoughts on this?
I think a lot of coders hate working on the code of another coder (or another team of coders)…that happens in all code languages, not just Bubble!
Here are some tips I use for the bubble internal apps to keep the overall development process as clean as possible :
Use every function Bubble offers when it is necessary (adding comments to Data fields when they are not understandable, adding comments to any element when it is not straightforward, putting workflows into folders, etc.)
Use simple UI/UX elements…for example I mostly don’t have forms, but only a button to add and then auto binding to modify the element (among other things)
Use video screens to explain your site. I use Jumpshare (very similar to Loom). It takes way less time to explain the structure of the app with a video, compared to a document with text and screenshots…