As people everywhere continue to adapt to new ways of working and collaborating, many trends that might have seemed a decade away in 2019, have cemented themselves as today’s blueprints for success.
We’ve seen firsthand the acceleration in demand for technology that lends itself to agile development without compromising power, ease or security and governance. Businesses cannot afford for solutions to be locked within excessively bureaucratic processes, with line-of-business workers unable to affect real progress. But they also need the solutions developed within individual teams to be manageable and secure, without all the “shadow IT” risks that often arise when teams create their own apps and services.
To help businesses balance this dynamic, we’ve provided no-code app creators combating the pandemic special access to AppSheet, Google Cloud’s no-code development platform, and we will continue to do so through December 31, 2021. Nigeria-focused NGO New Incentives is a superlative example of the organizations that have used AppSheet to achieve meaningful results.
A non-profit working to improve infant mortality rates through immunization efforts, New Incentives began their no-code journey in 2015. Balancing the needs of a global team with operations that often take place in rural areas, their IT team needed solutions to be both flexible and responsive. Projects such as their expense app helped pave their no-code journey early on, demonstrating that important applications could be developed more quickly than in the past via a mixture of technical talent and non-technical talent, as well as via tools that let IT maintain governance requirements while individual teams experimented.
“It’s like building an entire ecosystem for our needs, with multi-tiered approvals, and the ability to bring in a lot of interesting, contextual information to be able to identify fraud,” said Svetha Janumpalli. “When someone’s reviewing an expense, being able to see their route in Google Maps is very important to know where we’re going and operating in these very hard-to-reach, hard-to-travel areas. Like, are people actually doing what was intended?”
Pre-pandemic, most of the non-profit’s no-code app needs were focused on internal processes such as tracking of supplies, expenses, and data intake. When COVID began to emerge, they weren’t certain if their immunization program would be able to continue.
“We were thinking early on, this is going to become a problem, and what are we going to do? We basically create crowds [by organizing ways for children to be immunized against disease],” said Janumpalli. “So, we knew early on that we wouldn’t be able to continue unless we got ahead of having good mitigation measures, and unless we made the case to government stakeholders—to our Community Partners—that we take them very seriously. Because AppSheet gives us speed, we were able to introduce these apps, iterate them, and then share that information back.”
As the pandemic progressed, New Incentives leaders soon realized that AppSheet apps could be used to address external needs in addition to internal needs as communication with the external community was becoming increasingly important. “The apps are like having a portable office,” Janumpalli stated.
To help prevent the spread of COVID-19 while maintaining their ongoing mission, the organization needed to engage in an open dialogue with the community to understand and meet each location’s unique needs. By building apps that let team members collect data from communities, quickly assess the data, and make changes, the New Incentives team knew they could stay aligned with those they served, even as conditions changed.
“Sometimes, there’s no internet connectivity. Sometimes even cell phone communications are difficult. AppSheet helps the app user retrieve that information properly. And then it allows us to program the feeding of that data: who needs it and when they need it to make good decisions.”
Taking a community-first approach, New Incentives began collecting information on the ground from local members that could then be trickled upwards through both their communities and the organization. Not only did this help build trust in a difficult time, but it allowed for faster app iteration and faster implementation of on-the-ground changes that needed to take place. “We could take that community member feedback and instead of waiting a year, literally within a week, we could review that information and then make improvements.”
One of the solutions that came from these community-driven dialogues was their bi-hourly app. “We’re a program that increases demand for immunization, but we couldn’t risk increased crowding,” Janumpalli explained. “So, we had to put in a bunch of new protocols around sanitization, hand-washing, and social distancing. We introduced this app called bi-hourly monitoring, and it was so useful that irrespective of COVID in the future, we’ll keep that as part of our processes.”
While COVID is still active, the resilience that New Incentives has built into their problem-solving has provided them an opportunity to continue their mission with minimal disruption. This non-profit has helped to double rates of full immunization (increased from 25% to 54%) in the region, and COVID placed these efforts in jeopardy.
“We’re a health organization. We don’t want to introduce measures superficially,” Janumpalli stated. “I would imagine that if we didn’t have this type of real-time information to have the confidence that it’s okay to continue to operate, we would have had to stop operations more often out of a lack of information because it just would have exceeded our risk tolerance”
“What I hope other people understand about AppSheet is that it helps with the full spectrum,” she added. “It’s not just data collection, but also how you manage that data, how you integrate that data into your team processes, how you review that data, how you gain actionable insights from that data. So for us it’s data that’s actually influencing people to change and empowering managers to be able to have all the information they need to provide the right guidance and leadership to their teams.”
New Incentives is continuing their immunization efforts, scaling from an average of 5,800 new infants added to its program per month in 2020 to 27,000 for the month of June this year alone. The real-time flexibility of AppSheet combined with their innovative culture means the same small team can meet the expanding and diverse demands that will continue to emerge through COVID and beyond.
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