We are living in the era where even kindergarteners are learning how to code, and it won’t be long now until some of them will do a better job of building websites and applications than their elders. But it isn’t their youth, but the ubiquity of the coding generation: these days rapid application development can be found everywhere, and seemingly has infected every corporate department.
What is lost in this rush to coding everywhere is that you really don’t need to be a programmer anymore. Not because everyone seems to want to become one. But because the best kinds of collaboration happen when you don’t have to write any code whatsoever. You could call this the ultimate in rapid development, because it is really akin to doing no development.
If we look at the collaboration universe, we can find plenty of tools that are already built for that purpose. We don’t need to build something in Python or Ruby or (pick some obscure Java-based project here).
Indeed, not to toot our own horn, but that is exactly one of the reasons why QuickBase is so popular: you don’t have to be a coder to collaborate. The reason is very simple: you spend less time figuring out your software and more time working in the custom business applications you built, with or without any help from IT, that will boost your team’s ability to collaborate. Team productivity goes way up, and team frustration (and debugging your apps) goes way down.
The essence of great collaboration is one of those things that is easy to recognize but hard to explain. It requires a tool where you don’t need to be onboarded, configured, pre-trained or have IT spend months testing out various products before anointing a corporate standard. You need to just go to someplace online (because ideally it should be a SaaS-based tool that you can bring up in your web browser), and get started within a few minutes. There is nothing to install and no manual to first study.
The ideal collaboration tool should get out of your way so you can, well, get started with working on something together. It is all about the ultimate work product, and not the process of running the app or customizing the screen colors or some other silly notion that programmers sometime have about building software.
Let’s say you have written a contract, and you need your client to sign it before you begin work. In the old days, you would create a Word document, leave the signature fields blank, and email it (or worse yet, fax it!) to your client. They would have to print it out, sign it, scan it, and email it back. Wouldn’t it be easier if you could upload your document to a secure signing service (Docusign and Adobe eSign are just two of many such tools) and be done in a few minutes.
Part of collaboration is putting the transportation process inside the application, so you don’t have to worry about getting the actual bits from here to there. Another part is making sure that you don’t need any specialized knowledge (such as programming) so your team can start being productive from minute 2 (or maybe minute 1) of using the app. And of course, having just the right mix of functionality and ease of use so you can be productive. Without writing a single line of code.