FIRETECH – AppSheet case study

FIRETECH – AppSheet case study

FIRETECH – AppSheet case study
FIRETECH has streamlined its fire protection and engineering processes with AppSheet.
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FIRETECH – AppSheet case study

FIRETECH is divided into several departments that perform specific fire protection and engineering services.

FIRETECH’s digital transformation includes an installation and service department, which is responsible for performing periodic inspections of fire protection systems and equipment. It also installs complete fire protection systems such as Fire Alarm Systems in many facilities across Poland.

Another department, which underwent tranformation was the construction department. The department secures installation culverts against fire, which must be recorded (often several hundred in one building!) and create as-built documentation.

This is a very responsible job, in which mistakes are unacceptable – they can affect the safety of all of us.

So every improvement is worth its weight in gold.

Challenges

At the beginning of the project, FIRETECH employed over 50 people. The company needed more tools (after Google Workspace) to further improve the quality of service and increase employee productivity. Employees were very attached to paper forms of documents, but slowly became convinced of the need for digitization.

Convincing of the need for digitization

SMEs in Poland often do not feel the need for a deeper transformation of work. The arguments of time, cost and profitability need to be shown in black and white and acted upon gradually. So far everything has worked fine, but the potential of new technologies has been overlooked.

Digitization of paper documents

Until now, service technicians and construction workers recorded inspection results and records on printed charts that had to be prepared by the office. In times of pandemics, the very process of handing over the sheets of paper proved to be additionally troublesome. It involved coming to the office and direct contact.

There was no CRM system in place to date to manage customer service and control deadlines. Files related to the facility were stored on Google Drive.

Improve office-to-field communication

Whatsapp-based corporate communication generated a lot of messages and attachments unrelated in any way to the work at the site. Under such conditions, it was easy to forget something.

PROJECT ASSUMPTIONS AND REQUIREMENTS

To execute the project successfully, Developico had to consider the following factors: cost and complexity of the new solution.

LOW COST OF THE NEW SOLUTION

The cost of maintaining the system was not to strain the department’s budget – with the budget given, we could forget about the standard software development process.

The office and maintenance staff have Google Workspace licenses, so it makes sense to use it.

AppSheet offers clear pricing. We opted for the AppSheet Core variant, which costs $5 / month / logged-in user

SCALABILITY AND EASE OF UPGRADING

As the customer is just getting to grips with digitalization and digital transformation, ease of development, scalability and ease of producing additional personalized solutions were key. Time was also an important factor. Due to the enormity of the work, the client could not devote several months to the project to plan, test and change.

USER SATISFACTION

It was important to keep morale high among frontline employees who would spend as much time as possible with the app. It’s important that employees themselves become fans of No-Code and suggest (or take the matter into their own hands!) creating new apps or automation.

Solution architecture

The client already had the Google Workspace package. It was natural to base all the data on Google Sheets.

I suggested using AppSheet – a rapid application development platform that works well with Google Workspace.

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AppSheet

A platform for developing applications that are used to collect data, play it back, report on it, and create automation.

Several apps have been developed as part of this project, but the number is growing all the time.

The client uses the pay per user AppSheet Starter model. With the possibility of expansion to AppSheet Core.

Google Sheets

The data resides in a Google Sheets, which serves as a relational database.

By using Google Workspace suite tools, customer data is secure, always accessible from any device, and easily scalable.

In the future, as data structures grow, it is possible to move to more advanced Cloud SQL solutions.

Free in the Google Workspace package! Just like Excel in O365!

Google Data Studio (soon)

This is just the beginning of digital transformation.

Data is already ready for you to implement Business Intelligence in your organization using Google Data Studio soon.

    Service app

    The service application aggregates data from performed service reviews and enables the creation of new ones.

    You can read the detailed case study here (PL).

    Schemat aplikacji AppSheet - serwisowa firetech

    Business impact

    By implementing the application, the service department has increased its productivity.

    It is able to digitally create:

    • Protocols of inspection of hand-held firefighting equipment, testing and inspection of internal hydrant network, inspection of hydrophore set, inspection of carbon monoxide and propane-butane gas detection system in underground garage, inspection of explosive gas detection system in boiler room, inspection of fire doors, technical inspection of emergency evacuation lighting, technical inspection and test of fire power switch, annual inspection of fire alarm system, inspection of gravitational smoke removal system, technical inspection of fire gates, battery testing
    • SERVICE REPORT of the emergency arrival to the customer

    Reduced consumption of paper documents

    • reduced the number of errors due to unclear handwriting
    • reduced the amount of time spent creating the protocol to a few minutes
    • reduced the number of office visits required service protocols with the customer’s signature are automatically generated and can be easily sent to a remote location

    increased competitiveness of the company on the market

    • the customer is able to copy and create a personalized inspection application for a specific object; thus, he becomes a promoter of No-Code and AppSheet himself!

    Improved communication

    • service technicians filling in the form are able to send comments to the office in non-standard situations automatically – the office immediately receives an email with all the information
    • data on all systems and devices on particular sites are always available; both current and archival data

    Installation app

    The installation application aggregates data on installation works.

    It allows to track the inventory of materials and maintain a work log.

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    Business impact

    With the implementation of the application, the installation department has increased its productivity.

    It is able to digitally create

    • records of material consumption
    • records of working time of installation activities

    Structured data on the work and consumption of materials on individual objects

    • easier to control deadlines
    • easier to plan work
    • easier to plan orders

     

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    Construction app

    A construction application is designed to:

    • collect all information about the investment in one place
    • provide convenient service for employees on the construction site
    • send automatic reports to the office about the current work in the field
    • process the collected data and export them for further processing in specialized programs such as CAD
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    Business impact

    With the implementation of the application, the construction department has increased its productivity.

    It is able to digitally create

    • a list of performed fire protection along with photos and required information
    • Summary of working time

    Structured data on performance and hours of work on individual objects

    • Automatic synchronization of data significantly improves communication between employees.
    • Digital form eliminates costs of printouts and additional trips to the office.
    • The digital form of data significantly streamlines the process of preparing documentation, but also the secondary processes: tracking work progress, eliminating the occurrence of errors, etc.
    • The company’s management can easily link the data from the application to its BI report, but the one built in the application is also sufficient

     

    Application for apps + more projects

    The success of the apps presented above has motivated employees to find new ways to use apps.

    To make it even easier to manage the app ecosystem in the organization, we created a HUB of all projects.

    Everyone can easily find their way around the apps created. The apps come with written and video training.

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    What’s next?

    Customer continues to develop current applications

    • Provides data to its customers
    • Integrates with further Google services
    • Purchases new devices for employees

    Customer experiments with further use of AppSheet

    • IT equipment inventory
    • CRM
    • HR records (contracts, examinations, trainings, passes, leaves)
    • Car fleet records (inspections, insurance, bumps, failures, mileage)
    • Customer quotation calculator
    • Internal calculators (e.g. material consumption, etc.)
    • Paper document circulation (scan > Excel > approval) [e.g. cost invoices].

    Client opinion

    The applications introduced have helped expedite customer orders by streamlining workflow.

    Records made by the technician are immediately at the office worker, who creates a final report for the customer. This has increased the efficiency of the entire department and increased capacity, which has increased the number of customers served and directly translates into increased profits.

    I am glad that I let Wojtek persuade me to start the process of digital transformation. I was skeptical at first, but now I know that this is the only right way not to be left behind.

    Patryk Szczepanik

    Service and Installation Manager, FIRETECH

    When introducing the application to our department Wojciech did not have an easy task. The most difficult thing was to overcome our resistance to change something that had been working so far – a piece of paper and a pen.

    Personally I was very skeptical about this idea – despite my faith in Wojtek I doubted my ability to use the new application. I also sensed the bad attitude of service technicians.

    It turned out that adding last year’s statements to the system takes very little time. The biggest surprise for me was the acceptance from the technicians. After several tests they themselves reported the need for changes and new solutions. Thanks to the changes introduced on an ongoing basis, we can personalize the application to our needs, which allows us to avoid errors in communication.

    Personally, I appreciated the application the most when the protocol, which previously took me the whole day, was done in less than an hour – this shows the scale of time and work savings that automation gives.

    Gabriela Jakimiuk

    Application Administrator and Maintenance Coordinator, FIRETECH

    Ways we can help

    Developico can help you with almost everything related to Microsoft Power Platform.

    Long term support

    Developico Support Services which provides access to a dedicated team of specialists.

    Projects

    We can help you with creating an app or fix the one you already have.

    Trainings

    Courses. Workshops. Showing useful and simple tricks to improve the work on applications and helping you to better use your applications.

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    Wojciech Szczepanik

    Google competencies

    Contact directly

    AppSheet Specialist

    I have been using Google services since I can remember. It fascinates me how great Google Workspace, AppSheet is and how little we use its potential. I am fighting for 100%! 

    MTSAB – Power Apps & Power BI case study

    MTSAB – Power Apps & Power BI case study

    MTSAB – Power Apps & Power BI case study
    How we brought back control overspent time and budget in company operations
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    Screenshot 1 - FIRETECH - AppSheet case study
    MTSAB – Power Apps & Power BI case study

    MTSAB is a company that deals with all types of ground-related work and renovations. They help with house foundations, garden reconstructions, putting up walls, laying tiles, etc.

    The Company has ten years of experience, and over time, more opportunities for larger jobs had opened up. To keep the pace, MTSAB had to acquire more equipment, larger machines, and hire more people from which the majority were blue collars. The latter requires the Company to deal with new challenges and solve them in a cost-efficient way.

    Challenges 

    On the project start, MTSAB employed 100+ people. The Company needs a tool for workers’ time tracking. They reviewed multiple different tools for time tracking and decided to try one of them for a few months. Unfortunately, the selected solution did not meet their expectations, so company stakeholders chose to find a new application that will solve their challenges.

    WORKTIME TRACKING

    Historically, reporting of working time required that each employee directly contacted a dedicated employee (all with the same) who entered into the daily system information such as name and surname of the employee, performed work, and reported time.

    First, Excel was used to collect data. After some time, Excel has been replaced with a 3rd party solution. Although new software had reporting capabilities based on data relationships, it didn’t have a mobile application, so the process itself was not only ineffective (weak scaling up), but also the software used did not reflect the information architecture of MTSAB and its internal structure. It is worth adding that the license cost of this solution was SEK 50,000 every month.

    INABILITY TO PREDICT ALL TASKS RELATED TO RENOVATION WORK

    In renovation works, there are often unexpected extra tasks. Sometimes it results directly from the ordering party, who suddenly finds the need to make an additional modification, and sometimes only after the work is done, other things that require attention come out. In such situations, MTSAB employees are allowed to take over those tasks. Still, they have to obligatory take photos that show the subject of additional work (and the effect before and after) and provides a description. So far, pictures with descriptions have been sent by e-mail, and a dedicated person has cataloged the received data together with the project (renovation work) data. Such work was carried out once a week and required a lot of time from the finance department employee.

    BLUE-COLLAR EMPLOYEES MANAGEMENT

    A team of people that works at the construction or renovation site. Each of them has different qualifications (electrics, plumbing, tiling, etc.). Occasionally, an employee is unable to show up on the work site for various reasons. Then the dedicated employee of MTSAB has to find a replacement for him in cooperation with other Team Leaders. Searched replacement requires taking into account multiple factors, ie. Required skills, employee availability, and rate. So far, this information has been implemented in Excel (separate from the 3rd party solution used to time reporting). As the number of employees increased, the number of replacement cases increased as well. That has an impact on management efficiency.

    First, Excel was used to collect data. After some time, Excel has been replaced with a 3rd party solution. Although new software had reporting capabilities based on data relationships, it didn’t have a mobile application, so the process itself was not only ineffective (weak scaling up), but also the software used did not reflect the information architecture of MTSAB and its internal structure. It is worth adding that the license cost of this solution was SEK 50,000 every month.

    PROJECT ASSUMPTION AND REQUIREMENTS

    To deliver the project successfully, Developico had to take into consideration the following factors: costs and complexity of the new solution.

    LOW COST OF THE NEW SOLUTION

    1. The monthly cost of maintaining new solution must not exceed the current price of maintenance (SEK 50,000)
    2. Office employees (10-20 people) have Office365 licenses
    3. In-field employees (80-90 people) do not have any Microsoft licenses

    COMPLEXITY OF THE NEW SOLUTION

    1. Solution for in-field workers should have a mobile application. Such an application should have an intuitive and straightforward interface allowing to reduce the time of training on how to use the app for new users
    2. The solution for office employees should have a web interface.
    3. The solution should be possible to implement within three months of the commencement of works (MTSAB had been looking for a new solution for several months, and the budget for finding a new solution was slowly melting)

    Solution Architecture

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    Common Data Service – the database for all tabular data in the solution. The reasons behind the decision were storage size (up to 10GB), the excellent performance of the database, possibility to enable auditing and backup capabilities and ability to export data to excel

    Power Apps – a platform to build the user interface and use form from any device. There will be two applications in the solution:

    • Time reporting application – from its level workers will be able to report time (regular hours and extra hours with additional comment and photo)
    • Data administration application – application for managing clients, contacts, projects, and employees.

      PowerBI – reporting tool with various kinds of charts and data visualizations. It has excellent options for manipulating data charts, the possibility to drill down the data, and it can be embedded into PowerApps if needed. Such a report should at least

      • Show the number of hours reported by the employee in each month (by project)
      • Show total number of hours worked in the project by role and person
      • Show geographic map of projects

        Business impact

        The whole project has been delivered in 4 weeks from the start (on-premise analysis workshop).

        The solution covers all business needs and requirements. It also brings modern UX that is very easy to learn for a new employee. It has a significant impact on the decreased time effort required for the project and human resources management.

        Common Data Service stores all data (including photos) in a structured and secure way.

        The recommended approach required to buy up to 100 PowerApps Per-App license for every user that will use any of the two PowerApps apps. Single license cost was around ~88 SEK/user/month at that time. Moreover, users that want to use PowerBI reports need an additional license for PowerBI Pro (also ~88 SEK/user/month). But even then, the ROI was in 3rd month of usage of the solution (Developico cost and licenses that client requires every month) in comparison to the previously used solution of 3rd party vendor. If all benefits are taken into account (including those hardly measured like exact time saved), then the total ROI could be even faster.

        After a month of usage, the client returned for more features, i.e., localization (for Swedish) and historical view of submitted hours in Time Reporting Application (both visible in-app screenshots below)

        Client opinion

        Our aim was to be able to identify factors that unnoticeably or uncontrollably caused financial losses in our organization. We used to rely on excel spreadsheets which was later replaced by dedicated tool. However the tool had unmpleasent data structure and along with lack of mobile application it moved us toward next change. Developico helped us consolidate our users channel by creating 2 Power Apps apps with ergonomic UX connected with structured data using Common Data Service. Then the data fed our data model and ultimately allowed us to gain clear business insights through Power BI. I’m very happy with the result of our collaboration with Developico. Developico looked at our business from different perspectives and proposed solution hollistacly used Microsoft offer with license costs effective. We do recommend their services.

        Daniel Murzyński

        Operational Chief / COO, MTSAB

        Solution screenshots

        ADMINISTRATION APPLICATION

        TIME REPORTING APPLICATION
        POWER BI REPORTS

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