An app ecosystem consists of various function groups.
How should you design your app ecosystem? Where do you start when there are so many apps to choose from?
These are the questions we asked Jeffrey Atizado of SMB Consultants and Clinton Cowin of TradiePad. Here is what we learned but please listen in as Jeffrey and Clinton explain all this much better than we ever could.
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Imagine a white wall and then you draw 5 large circles and these large circles represent different function groups – it might be accounting, marketing, ecommerce, operations, payments – the actual function groups of course vary depending on the industry, size and complexity of the business you run – so it might be 5, but it could also be more or less.
And these circles overlap – at least they should overlap – meaning that the different apps talk to each other. And so your drawing starts to look like a Venn diagram.
In each function group you have a core software and then apps that integrate with this core. And of course the amount of apps in each function group is mind-boggling.
The accountant is like the GP who sends the patient (client) to a specialist (cloud integrator). A cloud integrator needs to master all prevalent apps within an app function group. As a cloud integrator you need to understand the entire space. You must be able to say, “These are the apps that you should consider and this is the one that is going to be best for you.”
There is horizontal and vertical specialisation among cloud integrators. They tend to focus on a specific industry as Clinton does for trades and Jeffrey does for retail, wholesale and hospitality. But cloud integrators also tend to specialise in certain function groups. Even within an industry they tend not to cover every single function group but refer to further specialists.
Having various apps linked together reduces the risk for a business. If one app goes down, there is only a small gap. The rest of the system is still working. And there is always this ability to reassess and change what an app does.
Retail and Wholesale
In retail there are various Point-Of-Sale (POS) systems for cash-and-carry transactions. There would be no need for a cloud integrator if there was just one app and it was perfect for every business. But that is not the case.
For wholesale there is usually a warehouse. But is there also manufacturing? The answer will lead to different apps.
Hospitality is very different in Australia than it is in North America. The wage cost is completely different even the way the service works is very different. We tend to have a lot more order-at-counter places rather than table service because it reduces the amount of staff that are needed. That affects the apps you need. Examples are Counter, LightSpeed, Deputy and Panda.
One of the biggest problem for retail and hospitality is making wage cost economical. Making sure that staff is paid correctly and on time.
Does the trades business manage jobs or projects? When a tradie goes from job to job – for example 4 or 5 jobs per day – the focus is on job scheduling.
When a tradie does a big construction project – they are on one site for a month at a time – the focus is on project management. Job scheduling is not important. Ordering and keeping track of time is.
But having made this distinction, you often find both in a trades business. One side of the business manages jobs while the other manages projects.
The scoping session is to assess where the business is and where it wants to be. How do transactions flow at the moment? What are the pain points? It gives the cloud integrators the necessary information to design a system that relieves the pain points.
But the scoping session is also about managing exceptions. No software package is perfect. The scoping session is to highlight the relevant limitations of apps.
So this is a short overview of our talk with Jeffrey and Clinton. But please listen in as they go into a lot more detail.
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Last Updated on 29 April 2020