Internal tools: a worthy investment? When to start building your internal infrastructure

Internal tools are often overlooked in the development space, but great internal infrastructure can often be the key to unlock greater productivity and rapid growth. So why aren’t people investing in better internal apps?

Internal tools: a worthy investment? When to start building your internal infrastructure

If you owned a cleaning company, and your cleaner was working tirelessly with an old, broken broom, would you double their hours to ensure they swept all remaining crumbs, or would you simply buy them a vacuum cleaner? The latter is much more energy and financially efficient, of course. The ROI would certainly be higher.

So why then, are companies wasting their employees’ time and energy with old, labor-intensive, and broken systems to complete critical processes when the options exist to optimize and automate these very same actions?

Perhaps in a time where companies are cutting costs and expenses, and at worst, laying off their employees, it seems a ridiculous idea to invest scarce financial resources in internal development - in the ugly back office that no customer even sees. But is it not more illogical to pay our valuable, human staff to complete tasks a computer could, in a fraction of the time? 

To reign back in on a question that might conjure visions of a dystopian, post-human world, let’s think about the things a computer cannot do:

  • Computers cannot emote, nor connect with your clients to build long-term relationships
  • Truly strategize in a nuanced way beyond of their algorithms
  • They cannot build employee rapport, innovate beyond what they are programmed to do, 
  • Nor can they spearhead growth and think independently within a complex company system. ‍

This is, in fact, what you pay your highly qualified, emotional, and skilled human employees to do. So is there some logic in letting a computer do what it is good at, to make space for your employees to grow, innovate, and learn beyond what a computer could ever do?

But what does an efficient internal tool system look like?

Let me start with how it shouldn’t look, with a curiosity: how, in 2023, are enterprise-level companies, with hundreds of employees and plenty of in-house technical know-how, still using complicated, vulnerable, and limited spreadsheet infrastructures to execute core processes? 

  • Is it because their developers are simply too busy to even think about building an internal app that might cut the time a customer success team spends on tickets in half? 
  • Is the budget just too tight to spend optimizing a business intelligence reporting tool that gives the operations team the crucial information to innovate with new ideas for company growth? 

‍Perhaps time and money are exactly the problems that many companies are looking at when it comes to internal infrastructure.

Time and money isn’t a problem that can easily be solved overnight, but nevertheless, if we continue to only focus developer attention on customer-facing products, or custom-code intensive development, the metaphorical bucket will always be kicked down the year’s quarters to be focused on at a later date, if ever. 

We dig into how they should look in our Internal Tools 101.

So really, what we are suggesting, is a change in philosophy when it comes to internal infrastructure. In a variety of ways, though it may sound cheesy, optimized internal tools are the key to scaling productivity and creativity: avoiding inefficient manual processes, ensuring proper and secure storage of critical data, optimizing onboarding, presenting clear and automated reports to encourage data-driven innovations - the list can go on. ‍

Prioritizing solving internal problems in a company takes all that wasted energy and funnels it into the things that matter: the things that will grow and evolve the company and help it overcome the economic obstacles ahead of us. Important to note here is that while many well-established corporations and companies are dawdling on their internal development, the many startups who have adopted this philosophy to have efficient internal infrastructure as one of their principal focuses, are poised to overtake them.


Are we biased, as an internal tools development agency?

Of course, we are. But then again, in our clients we see the transformations occurring in real-time, and we hear the satisfaction and relief of non-technical teams having their niggling issues solved, their repetitive processes automated, or their data finally safely workable. We get to observe the speed at which these startups and companies can grow. ‍

We also see the incredible innovations occurring in the internal tool sphere, allowing companies to build even better and faster, and more reliably. We currently work exclusively with Retool because we recognize it stands at the forefront of these changes in the sector with the features and systems that matter most to companies and their development teams. If you are interested in Retool or considering investing in your internal tool infrastructure, send us a note on our contact page, and we’ll be in touch.

‍Read more about what kinds of apps are best to build in our Internal Tools 101 guide, or read our tips on Build vs Buy

At Bold Tech we specialize in building internal tools, for startups, SMEs, and enterprise companies on platforms like Retool. If you’re interested in finding out more, like whether Retool is a good fit for your internal tool idea, get in touch.

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