This series will guide you through making a small app to automate fetching and displaying data from both an SQL database and a network drive.
Posts In The DerbySAPiD Series
- About DerbySAPiD (you are here)
- Preparing To Create DerbySAPiD
- Building The User Interface (coming soon)
- Fetching Information From The Database (coming soon)
- Displaying Pictures Stored On The Network Drive (coming soon)
- Publishing The App (coming soon)
“It takes like 10 minutes just to get all the files together before we start an audit..”
I made DerbySAPiD for a friend at work. We’ll call him Steve because that’s his name. You can also read more about DerbySAPiD here.
I heard Steve complaining about how long it took him to get all the details together he needed to complete an audit. To get the details he had to go to:
- Outlook to save an email attachment with audit information
- An unwieldy, ridiculously slow internal app to find the ID of the assessor he was auditing (1 min)
- Another slow query to this app to find the Id for the energy assessment (2 mins)
- With both Ids in hand he could then go to the network drive, find the correct folder and open the pictures (2 mins)
He would then combine the evidence from the email attachment with the assessor and assessment information and pictures. At this point he could then cast his trained eye over all the information and conduct the audit. 5 minutes of housekeeping before the real work starts.
Steve and the rest of the team found this annoying because they had to do the same process every time. When you are putting your specialist skills to use you don’t want to spend most of your time on meaningless housekeeping.
Pretty boring work for experienced specialists eh? Let’s fix that!
Hearing about the process that Steve and the team would go through it seemed mad. This process could easily be automated. And it didn’t need to take 5 minutes to fetch the information either.
I decided to build them an app on my lunch break. An hour later they had a simple app that would fetch all the information (steps 2 and 3 above). It did this instantly. You just entered a reference number and clicked GO and the data was there. No 3 minute wait.
I later added a picture gallery feature to show the pictures from step 4. This also worked instantly.
For no good reason (except that we could) I gave the app a golf theme. The icon was a golf ball on a tee. When you clicked the button to fetch the information you would hear a golf swing. If it successfully retrieved the information you would hear a ball going in the hole. If it failed you would hear a golfer shout “Fore!”.
“It’s simple, it just works. Why couldn’t we have had this months ago?”
Steve and the team loved it. They had an app to do the donkey work so they no longer had to. It’s hard to put a value on this but it is a definite benefit. Not just to your productivity but to your enjoyment of your work.
It’s a boring job but
someoneno one has to do it
The productivity gains were pretty awesome too . .
Returns on investment
I put a total of 2 hours of work into DerbySAPiD.
Each day that Steve used it he could save himself around 100 minutes a day.
And there was a whole team using it. So DerbySAPiD started paying its way after only a day. It will keep working as long as Steve and his team need it without any more input from me.
DerbySAPiD is now also used by another department. They found the quick display of information was handy during support calls.
The returns on investment are ridiculous. Fixing tasks like this is really grabbing low hanging fruit. A little work done once can benefit an infinite number of people an infinite number of times.
Has this given you any ideas?
Does the initial problem sound familiar? Spending time going in and out of different apps and folders to gather information before you can actually do any work? Tell me about it below.