Managing a business requires a great deal of attention to detail, along with solid processes in all areas of operations. As your company and team keep growing, you won’t be able to wing it with a makeshift system of spreadsheets and documents anymore. The time has come to build up your internal tools stack.
What’s an internal tool? Any software solution you’re using internally to help your collaborators do their job, such as:
Customer Relationship Management (CRM);
Employee Directory and HR platform;
Event Management directory;
Forms and Surveys;
Dashboards and Reports;
The amount of apps and tools we use professionally has steadily increased over the past decades, with organizations using an average of 80 SaaS applications in 2020compared to 8 in 2015. These internal tool builders focus on making your business more productive, your communication smoother, and your operations more transparent as a whole.
While there are dozens of applications available online, a lot of companies choose to build their own tools instead. In order to fit their specific processes but also to avoid paying for a feature, they can build themselves.
Why not assign a few developers and get them to build whatever internal tools you need? The question makes sense and will probably be asked by team members when discussing the topic. There are various benefits to using a no-code platform to build internal tools:
Cost-effective: Surely you know how much you’re paying your developers, and coding internal tools from scratch can end up taking them quite some time. You won’t have this problem with no-code platforms, which non-developers can use to build their tools themselves.
Less strain on developers: The time spent building internal apps could be spent working on your product. Unless you’re planning on hiring dedicated developers, this could become a massive distraction for your development team away from their core function.
Every stakeholder involved: With no-code, everyone can chime in and participate in building tools for their work, regardless of their technical know-how and limitations.
Ownership: Each team can have full ownership of the tools they use. They know exactly what they need, how about they build it themselves?
Adoption and satisfaction: Forcing applications and tools onto people never works out in terms of adoption. Empowering team members to build their own tools will ensure that it caters perfectly to their needs and that they’re happy about it.
Getting started with no-code platforms can feel overwhelming, however, and you might not know where to look. We put together a list of the top 8 no-code and low-code internal tool builders for you to decide which one would best fit your needs.
Retool is a low-code internal tool builder for teams interested in creating custom apps, dashboards, admin panels, and more. Catered for developers, the platform allows technical teams to leverage templates to build powerful tools, faster.
DronaHQ is a cloud-based low-code internal tool builder. It leverages a drag-and-drop interface and pre-built UI components to make it easy for developers, product managers and business teams to build apps on existing data sources.
Jet Admin is a platform to build external and internal-facing applications, from admin panels and custom CRM to client and vendor portals. The internal tool builder also offers premade UI components and developers tools to extend app capabilities.
Internal is a platform helping teams build internal tools using their databases, APIs, spreadsheets, and business apps. Although it leverages a no-code interface, it allows developers to customize further if needed.
Mendix is a low-code platform catering to large enterprises. With a large set of tools covering the entire application development process, it helps larger teams work together despite technical disparities.
Pricing: Free plan for personal use, then starts at $60/month for 5 users
Packed with enterprise-grade features (collaboration, security, integrations)
Two different development environments can communicate bi-directionally: a no-code one for business users and a low-code one for developers.
Pricing: The standard plan to build department-wide business applications starts at $950/month
Some reviews highlight a user interface that could be improved
Softr is an all-round no-code platform allowing users to create everything from internal tools to client portals, marketplaces, websites and web apps. This includes tools, with available templates to create a custom Sales CRM Portal or an Event planning platform for example.
The platform’s native integration with Airtable allows for a real-time, two-way data sync, so collaborators can update projects seamlessly. On top of the server-side authentication powered by AWS, Softr allows for users to set custom permissions to manage access for different team members.
Pricing: Free plan, then starts at $24 / mo
Fully no-code: Easy yet powerful (no learning curve)
Highly security: permissions, google auth, SSO etc
A significant selection of templates to choose from
Large community of users to engage and communicate with
Limitations on the lower plans (Editing, Users count etc)
Not as flexible design-wise as other tools (however, everything is responsive out-of-the-box)
You now have a solid overview of no-code and low-code internal tool builders, and probably feel eager to start building. Before you do, remember some best practices:
Map out your processes: Make sure what your requirements are before diving in.
Involve your team: They know what they need and what’s required to do their job.
Test it out: Leverage the free trial options several platforms are offering to find the best fit before committing.
Integrate away: Consider your existing stack and the available integrations at your disposal!
Now, time for the fun part! Enjoy building your internal tools, and remember to check out our other guides on how to get started with no-code to find inspiration in other areas of your business.