Back in the day people would build their databases using products like Microsoft Access or Filemaker. This evolved. Now software companies like Intuit makes Quickbase and Zoho makes Zoho Creator. These do the same things with one huge difference: they’re in the cloud.
Because Zoho Creator is a cloud based app creator you can build your own systems completely from scratch in a hosted environment that can then be accessed by whoever you want wherever they are and the app can be integrated into other cloud based applications, particularly Zoho applications.
You don’t need to be a programmer to do this. You just need to learn how the application works and to leverage its tools to help you create forms, views, reports, etc.
Can you just use Zoho Creator without using any other Zoho applications? Absolutely. If you’ve got a need that requires a very specific application built for it then you could use the Zoho Creator platform entirely on its own. However, most of our clients don’t do that.
Instead they use Zoho Creator to build add-ons to their Zoho apps and to fill in the gaps of what Zoho is not doing. Our clients have used it to create custom applications for managing their bar coding, quality assurance, inventory, projects, trucks or employee time and materials.
So how can you get started with Zoho Creator? Here are the steps:
Determine Your Need.
Look ahead six months and ask yourself what do you want to make sure this application is doing when it’s up and running and all the clouds clear? List out the specific, objectives of this application along with dates when you plan on achieving. Make sure when you list the objectives that they are addressing a specific business problem. Ask if there are any other out-of-the-box features in your other Zoho apps that may meet some of these objectives and therefore reduce the work you have to do in Zoho Creator.
Plan Out the Application.
Based on the above objectives, create a project plan. List all the tasks that need to be done related to each objective and a timeline for getting those tasks completed. Use a project management tool with reminders. Ensure that you’ve got the right tools in place for integration. Run the plan by others and make sure you’re not forgetting critical workflows.
List Out All of Your Fields.
In the end, you are using your Zoho Creator application to create a database. I’ve found that when creating a database it’s good to start with the end first. That is, consider all the fields of data that will be needed for the system to do what you want it to do.
Now that you’ve figured out what data you want to collect it’s time to build the forms. Building a form is another thing you’ll have to learn. When you build the forms Zoho Creator will give you the ability to link the fields on the form to fields in other Zoho systems like Zoho CRM. That will help you integrate your application with another Zoho application. I recommend checking out this video (MARKS GROUP LIVE VIDEO LINK)
A database is only as good as the data you’re getting out of it. As part of your plan you determined what reports you’d like to see coming out of the system. You’ve created the fields and forms. Now you want to design these reports.
Build Workflow and Integration.
Every good system has workflow behind it. When you build workflows you’ll have the ability to move data between your Zoho Creator built system and other Zoho applications.
If you want to practice with Zoho Creator, I recommend checking out Zoho’s excellent Quick Start Guide. Having said that, I also strongly suggest you consider bringing on a partner to help. At the Marks Group we have dedicated Zoho Creator experts that can build and support your applications likely in a fraction of the time it would take you to do it on your own. I’m not saying you can’t do it yourself. But maybe, just maybe, you and your people should be doing something else that’s more productive?