What you can achieve with No Code!

As some of you may know, my main work (apart from writing this blog) is as a no code database consultant - working to help clients transform (or in some cases start) their businesses. This post is a story about using this amazing technology (in this instance Knack and Integromat) to respond rapidly to a market opportunity and to continue to respond as the market changed.



How it Started


A long standing client of mine contacted me last August to tell me that they had the opportunity to set up a new Covid testing business and wanted to know whether it would be possible to set up a system to support this new business in 3 weeks! This, at that point was pretty much all I had to go on so, obviously, I agreed that I thought we could do it! It was a busy few weeks - while they went about setting up the physical business, I, in parallel, built the initial app covering (as my memory serves me):


  • Ability for the public to purchase tests and book times online

  • Processes to support the test centre - booking people in, recording details of the swab taken including who did these things and a timestamps

  • Support for the lab processes - recording details as the swab was processed and finally entering the results

  • Delivery of results to the patient through a portal and a PDF certificate if required

  • Notification of positive results both internally, so that medics could advise the patient, and also to relevant authorities should Covid be detected

  • Recording of the notification process


We got there with the app just in time for the business to start testing at the beginning of September and the rollercoaster ride began!


You'd need to have been hiding under a rock for the past year not to have noticed that the Covid 'world' has been changing almost weekly - different types of tests being required by different countries, businesses started providing tests to their staff, truck drivers requiring tests etc. This has been my reality for the past 6 months or so - and in addition we have needed dashboards for managers to monitor the process, built a simple CRM to support the sales process with corporate clients, and so on:


  • Purchasing tests in bulk for staff with the ability to allocate tests as required

  • Families to be able to buy tests in a single transaction through one account

  • Financial and operational dashboards, including reports to warn of potential breaches of the results delivery time.

  • A new patient portal designed to be more mobile friendly (still a web app though)

  • A portal for employers to buy, allocate and monitor tests.

  • Automatic integrations with lab machines and external laboratories

  • Facilities for clients to cancel tests and obtain a credit

  • CRM and other add on applications for monitoring the process.


How No Code (Knack and Integromat) Coped


The client had been working with Knack for some time (the rest of the business essentially runs on Knack and Integromat) so it was a no-brainer decision to use the platforms for this project - we realised immediately that it was the only way to get a solution up and running in the time we had available.


The Knack database platform is very quick to implement and is uniquely capable when it comes to creating solutions which cater for multiple types of user (for example, Patients, Employers, Lab Staff, Managers etc). Patients, for example, have a simple portal through which they can purchase tests for themselves and their families, receive the results etc:


So, the foundation of the system is based in Knack - but Integromat has been fundamental to this project as well. Some of you reading this may have seen my posts here about using Integromat to 'program' Knack and that is exactly what we have done in this project. Here are just some of the things that Integromat is handling in this solution:

  • Creating and updating booking 'slots' for the management team - including identifying which types of test are available at which centres/times and how many slots are available.

  • Processing bookings, creating barcodes which can be scanned by centre staff when the patient arrives.

  • Delivering results to the patient - and to authorities for Positive tests.

  • Loading results from lab machines - including flagging any potential mismatched data etc.

  • Processing refunds through Stripe where required

  • Validation of Voucher Codes (which, if valid, can provide a discount)

  • Production and delivery of PDFs of test results should the patient request this

  • Importing results data automatically from external labs

  • Etc

In total there are 70 live Integromat processes (or Scenarios as Integromat call them) so far forming part of this solution. They generally run flawlessly and where errors do occur, Integromat provides excellent tools to find out what went wrong and rerun if possible.


As the volume of tests has increased, the client has needed to upgrade both the Knack account and Integromat - in the latter case we are using about 2,000,000 operations a month and the 'Standard' Integromat account includes 40,000!



No Code - Really?


Actually, if I am honest, no!


There is a fair bit of Javascript and CSS in this solution - but mostly it is repetitive stuff of the type I have written about in this blog. For example, the buttons on the Patients' portal home page are actually standard Knack menu 'views' but I wanted them to be colourful and also much larger than normal and to shrink when on a phone to fit the resolution of the screen. This was done with some CSS to change the default settings with a little trial and error.


However, I am not a coder and I have been able to achieve this with little fuss - mostly just augmenting standard Knack features.



What Should You Take Away From This?


I think the key thing here is that without Knack and Integromat, it would not have been possible to get this business up and running in 3 weeks - or probably 3 months for that matter! Also, the ability to adapt as new tests and other requirements have come along has also been fundamental to making this work at all.


These are fantastic tools which really can transform a business with relatively little effort and enable a business to adapt fast to changing circumstances. The amazing thing is that this can be achieved by non technical people - sometimes supported by technology partners such as I.


I hope you've found this article useful - here are some links which may also be helpful:


You can find out more information about Integromat here


and Knack here.

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