Below is the transcript of the above video where you will learn more about Business Process Automation.

MELANIE FOXCROFT: Hello everyone, I’m Melanie Foxcroft from MF Consulting. Today I’m back with Maarten Kruger from Tech Genius and we will learn about Sally, the owner of a start up business and how she can get her feet wet in the process of Business Process Automation. Welcome Maarten.

MAARTEN KRUGER: Thanks Melanie. So, I think the reality is that most business owners don’t start out by actually automating their business. What they usually do is they’ll have one of two problems. The one problem is that they don’t have enough business and the other problem is that they’ve got too much business. Now I don’t think many people start their business by having the problem of having too much business. Typically it’s: “Listen here, let’s find business!” So, how do you do that? Now a typical thing that a new business – startup business owner – will do is try and improve the online visibility and a good way of doing that is typically by just, you know, getting yourself your own website. Now these websites typically are what we call brochure websites. A brochure website is something that is like a printed brochure. You just put it online. So on your website you’ll typically find an About us page, Products and services page, Contact us page. Yeah, and that’s typically how people just improve their online visibility in the beginning.

MELANIE FOXCROFT: And what are some of the best platforms to use for this?

MAARTEN KRUGER: Yeah, I think there are a lot of platforms out there you can use to create brochure websites. I mean typical things are Drupal, Joomla, WordPress and Wix are popular ones. One specific one is very popular and powerful, something called WordPress obviously. Uhm, now the thing about WordPress is a lot of people don’t realize that it’s a software program that you actually install on your web server and you’re not actually developing or programming your website. You’re just using the software to set up the pages that you want.

MELANIE FOXCROFT: Okay, so let’s say it’s going very well with Sally’s business and she gets busier and she gets more clients and now she needs a little bit more systems in place to make her business work. What would you recommend for her?

MAARTEN KRUGER: Yeah, somebody like Sally would typically start to want to capture information, you know, and stop using paper. And a good way to start doing that is by using spreadsheets. Now, most people will start with excel and they’ll put a spreadsheet up. Let’s say for example customer inquiries. You want to start keeping track of those things. People might not want to go for a full CRM system yet so a spreadsheet is not a bad alternative. So typically, they’ll create a spreadsheet with your client information. The kind of inquiry information about that and another thing will probably happen in that stage. Sally will probably start to employ some people and it’s not just Sally that will be working on the spreadsheet. Other people will start to enter information, you know, on this spreadsheet as well. And the typical scenario problem that happens in that regard is that people will start to lose changes. And that’s, we often get that businesses at that point will approach us and ask us, you know: “We’ve got this problem. Information’s getting lost. Multiple people working in the same spreadsheet. Can you just help us in that regard?”

MELANIE FOXCROFT: So what solution do you have instead of Excel spreadsheets?

MAARTEN KRUGER: So, Excel is a great product but it was developed long ago. I mean, the first version came out in 1985. Now what a lot of people don’t realize, I mean, that was 10 years before the internet started taking off which is in 1995. So, I mean, things like online sharing and people working on the same spreadsheets over the internet wasn’t even imagined at that stage. And now if you compare that to a product, like, developed by Google (which is called Google sheets), I mean, that was developed from day one to be an online platform where people can use spreadsheets online, collaborate and work on the same spreadsheets at the same time. So, I think Google sheets has always just been one step, you know, quite a few steps ahead of Excel in that regard. So, the first thing that we will do is convert the Excel spreadsheets to Google sheets and set it up so they can all work on the same spreadsheets simultaneously. And a typical thing that also happens with start ups is that people start employing more and more people and as you employ more people you realize that you don’t actually want to share all your sensitive information with everybody. And it becomes quite a challenge especially if only certain columns in certain sheets are confidential and some are not. What do you do? Because you can give some people access to specific sheets but you can’t limit specific columns. And then you start to realize that listen here, we’ve actually outgrown spreadsheets and it’s time to be looking at something else as a long-term solution. (This is where Business Process Automation starts).

MELANIE FOXCROFT: And what is that something else?

MAARTEN KRUGER: Yeah, at this point you’re gonna start paying money. Let’s face the facts. You can either buy existing software or pay a subscription fee to use a cloud-based platform of some kind or you can develop your own solution, both called Business Process Automation. Now, I think what a lot of people don’t realize is just what a big compromise it can be to actually buy existing software or subscribe because you can only use the features there that have been developed and it’s actually quite rare that the system out there is as unique as your business. So often it’s a compromise and why make that compromise? And that’s where we come in. So, in terms of developing your own custom solution there are different options available. Different routes that you can take depending on your needs.

MELANIE FOXCROFT: Okay, so what are some of these options that one can use?

MAARTEN KRUGER: Well, long ago when everybody was sitting in front of their desktop pc and was sitting at a desk, people would typically buy or develop in this case, your own Windows software for your business. But I think you know, as cloud computing became a reality, people started realizing how convenient, you know, using different devices like tablets and cell phones and, you know, doing work on the go. And even if you’re with a client you’ve got access to so much with mobile devices, that the day of developing Windows software for your business is not a popular choice anymore. So, what are your options? You know, you’ve got the choice of developing Windows software for desktop pc’s and then developing a mobile app as well, but if you develop a mobile app for what platform do you develop it? If you develop it for Android only what about those very loyal iPhone users who will never ever use anything else than an apple device for example? So now not only do you have to develop a Windows program, now you also need to develop an IOS program. You need to develop an Android program, um and that can become quite expensive because now you’re talking about doing three development projects instead of one. So, a much more cost effective solution is actually to develop something which you call a web app or a web application which is pretty much a website on steroids.

MELANIE FOXCROFT: Okay, so Maarten, tell me a little bit more about web apps because I am boggled here.

MAARTEN KRUGER: Okay, so a web app is still a website. I mean, and I know it can sound a little bit confusing and we’ve spoken before you know with a start up, like Sally, we’ll start by creating a website for a business called the brochure website. So it’s very much like a printed brochure that’s online but a web application is not something that you do on a platform like WordPress or Wix where you just set up a few pages. It’s where you develop the system from the ground up. So you’ve got all the power of something like a mobile app or a Windows app but the big advantage is that that app is actually, well, it’s a website behaving like a app, and it’s accessible to any device that’s got a web browser. So you can use it on your cell phone. You can use it on your tablet. You can use it on your desktop pc. You can pretty much use it on any device that’s got some kind of a web browser on it. Any smart device.

MELANIE FOXCROFT: Well, thank you Maarten. This has been fantastically entertaining and very interesting information so
I would like to come back and speak to you more about Web apps and more about Business Process Automation.

So, as always, stay tuned. Stay safe. And don’t forget to visit www.techgenuis.co.za.

Interview done by Melanie Foxcroft from MF Consulting.


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