No code internal tools are replacing entire software stacks.

I run an agency that builds internal tools to SMEs and startups. At a high level, I'm usually replacing spreadsheets or manual labor. Occasionally, the tools I build replace a couple of apps in a client's stack (making them redundant).

This article: No code, just a Coda doc: How Squared Away saves a thousand hours and $100k a year got me thinking a lot more on how tools like Coda and Airtable can replace entire stacks.

Modern B2B SaaS feels like: pick your platform, connect your APIs.

Curious to hear thoughts on this.

#Coda #Airtable #Notion #Linear
maguay's avatar
almost 2 years ago

Definitely agree.

There's an old saying about if you want to build a new business SaaS app, just look at how companies are using spreadsheets and you'll find things that could be turned into an app.

I was talking with Coda's head of product and design Lane Shackleton on our SaaS Radio show recently, and he'd mentioned something similar where people build essentially advanced versions of their spreadsheets in Coda, then automate stuff with buttons and more. Definitely better than either manually updating spreadsheets (and, shudder, emailing them back and forth), or investing in a full custom app for your business.

3 points
albertoro's avatar
@albertoro (replying to @maguay )
almost 2 years ago

Thanks for sharing, I'm listening to it now. And 100% agree on the spreadsheets aspect.

Here's a thread on turning spreadsheets into SaaS. It has very interesting mental models.

What's cool about no-code internal tools is that clients always evolve their apps. They are now able to "grow" their app alongside their operations/team requirements.

1 point
UberVero's avatar
almost 2 years ago

Yes, it's a little bit paradoxical how NoCode on some levels enables SaaS businesses (for niches), but on some levels actually replaces them. I believe it's much better for a small company to build their own custom CMS in Airtable, Coda or Notion rather that pick one of the million SaaS out there. I have a side hobby to recreate famous SaaS companies in Notion, I have built Linear so far and Hubspot is next!

@albertoro I'd be curious to hear how you help your clients evaluate the ROI of an internal tool. I think every company wants to automate ops and increase productivity, but it's quite hard to quantify.

3 points
albertoro's avatar
@albertoro (replying to @UberVero )
almost 2 years ago

First of all that's such a cool hobby. Would like to check them out.

My go-to question is "how much does your team rely on spreadsheets?"
I think spreadsheets are either being used instead of SaaS or are filling the gap of a current software stack. Then, I estimate how much time & resources they would be saving if they had a custom internal tool.

I'm actually thinking of using a Causal
interactive model.

Would like to hear your insights on this!

1 point
davidkylechoe's avatar
almost 2 years ago

I agree. It's the thesis behind my company as well.

I think it's most surprising and ironic how many technical managers have to resort to extremely manual and time-consuming processes in order to manage teams building extremely automated and efficient products.

We did a poll and found that folks are spending on average an hour a day doing this kind of manual management work... 5 hours/week...250 hours/year... Avg Eng Manager makes $134k a year or $67/hr... basically spending nearly $17,000 on manual work a year.

2 points
albertoro's avatar
@albertoro (replying to @davidkylechoe )
almost 2 years ago

100% with you, it's very surprising.

On a day-to-day basis it may not be seen as much, but once operators see the bigger picture (as you illustrated it), they realize their downside is significant. Not to mention the opportunity cost of engineering hours.

2 points
navpar's avatar
almost 2 years ago

I tweeted this some time ago:

. It spoke about how custom code is going to be relegated to a small part of any organisation's software stack.

My day job is to help people choose the right software for their business (see And I see first hand how putting together a bunch of SaaS tools is automating complex workflow at a fraction of the cost of traditional SAP, Salesforce, etc. Let alone the cost of custom development.

1 point
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