The booming of no-code tools
A decade after “Software is eating the world,” software is eating software. No-code/low-code tools are changing how we build software. Now engineering teams can spend more time on core products. And those who don’t code can wire up a technical solution in a few days.
After experiencing pains with internal tools for the past decade, we started Flowdash to help businesses design, automate, and manage their workflows in one place with little to no code. However, the booming of no-code tools brings another problem: How do you choose the best no-code tool to solve your pressing business problems?
We spoke to hundreds of people using or considering Airtable, Zapier, Retool, Stacker, Flowdash, and other no-code solutions for their internal tools. We learned a lot about their needs and how they chose the right no-code platforms. Here are five questions you can ask yourself to help ease the decision-making process:
- What does your workflow look like?
- Who is responsible for building and maintaining the no-code tool?
- How do you collaborate on the no-code platform?
- How much do you want to automate?
- How do you want to store and connect your data?
Question 1: What does your workflow look like?
Is your workflow linear and straightforward? Or, is it more complex with possible forks? If it’s simple, task trackers like Trello and Asana are great for linear workflows. For instance, the product development process is relatively standard. It often has a backlog, to do, in design, in development, in review, and done. I loved Trello’s simplicity. I used it heavily for product management in my last startup. Airtable also comes in handy. I like that in Airtable, I can create all kinds of views.
Non-linear workflows like customer onboarding, which involves approval and escalation processes, with all kinds of data in different places, and often have a high volume of repeatable tasks, are best use cases for Flowdash. To help people build complex workflows more efficiently, we released a new feature: linked workflows. You can connect and re-use any workflows, making them more organized and powerful. Our customers also love how customizable Flowdash is.
Question 2: Who is responsible for building and maintaining the no-code tool?
Many internal tools are used by non-technical teams (Operations, HR, etc.) and built by engineers. Even if there are enough resources, maintenance is a headache for both parties. You can use no-code tools designed with fewer technical pre-requisites if you lack engineering support—for example, Zapier, Airtable, and Stacker. You can also hire experts to add automation. Retool is an excellent choice for technical teams. It’s an ideal interface on top of your existing database.
Flowdash is in-between: simple for non-technical roles (they love the flow builder) and powerful for engineers (API and customization got the most love). It only takes our non-technical customers a few days to build a solution in Flowdash. After that, both teams work together to optimize the workflows further.
Question 3: How do you collaborate on the no-code platform?
Business processes often involve many people or cross-functional teams. Thus, collaboration features will be essential. If both of your workflow and collaboration requirements are complex, Flowdash is a good fit. Most of our customers have 5-20 people collaborating on the same workflow. Also, they love auto-assignment, permission and roles, task tracking, slack integration, and more. Per popular customer requests, we’re building analytics. We want to help managers gauge their team performance, troubleshoot bottlenecks, optimize workflows, and improve overall productivity.
Flowdash might be a bit heavy if your task only involves a few people or has no collaboration at all. For instance, I tried to build a design issue tracker workflow on Flowdash. However, since I am the only designer on the team, I found many features unuseful. So I ditched our tool and built one in Airtable instead. Project management tools like Trello, Asana, or Jira are good candidates if you have a simple workflow.
Question 4: How much do you want to automate?
When optimizing a business process, we want to look for as many areas to automate as possible to cut the unnecessary labor cost. If this is your goal, Zapier is an excellent automation software for beginners.
Sometimes, we cannot automate parts of the process. For example, workflows like KYC often require human review, approval, and escalation. Human-in-the-loop or human-first workflows are the best use cases for Flowdash, where automation assists but not replaces humans. In Flowdash, you can set up basic automation like auto-assign, email, or slack reminder. You can also easily integrate with Zapier or Integromat.
Question 5: How do you want to store and connect your data?
If you want to build on top of your database, go for Retool, primarily designed for developers. Whereas, if you don’t have a large amount of data and want to manipulate the data like a spreadsheet, you will love Airtable. You can also use Stacker to build a customer portal on top of Airtable quickly. Keep in mind that Airtable does have a record limit. With Flowdash, you can push data from your database, with our API, or manually (built-in forms and CSV files).
How do you choose a no-code tool?
We love all the tools mentioned above, Retool, Airtable, Zapier, and of course, Flowdash. We hope these five questions can help you choose the best no-code solution for your business needs. How do you decide which no-code tool to purchase for your project? Any tips? Or things to avoid? We want to hear from you!
Think Flowdash could be a good fit for your needs? If so, schedule a call with us. We would love to help you build your workflows. If you are a startup founder, we prepared something special for you: Flowdash Startup Pack. Grab it with this unique signup link.
Start building! We wish you have more flow and less work 🙂