What do top companies really use their Admin Panel for?

Let’s start with the basics: the administration panel (or just Admin) is the interface used by all web based companies to manipulate their App’s data and follow their business metrics (KPIs).

Operations teams constantly use it to enter and update data in their App. All the best performing companies include reporting dashboards in their admin panel. They use them to give their business and operations teams a 360 degrees view of the key information they need to make data-driven decisions every day.

Getting the Admin Panel right is critical: Easy mistakes cost time to the whole company

All kinds of things can look great and seem to have importance when working on improving your App’s Admin. In reality your Admin should optimize for just a single thing: your business and operations team’s efficiency.

Manipulating and extracting your App’s data should be quick and easy, and never give headaches to the people that use it most.

We have compiled a list of 5 Dos and Don’ts from admin panels built by successful businesses, and made a quick comparison table for the most used solutions.

1- Don’t lose time implementing CRUD operations.

Come on. We’re in 2017. CRUD (Create, Read, Update and Delete Data) is the basic feature that all admins have. Implementing in-house CRUD for each new type of data you create, and updating your admin’s views and controllers every time you add new columns to your database does not add any value to your product. Choose a framework that takes care of that for you and don’t lose time anymore.

2- Don’t choose personalization over maintainability.

Choosing an administration panel template on whether it offers 1000+ kinds of colors, fonts, icons and chart styles to choose from is a bad idea: none of this will make your team more efficient and you will probably lose time in unnecessary details. Simplicity is key: the less you have to maintain, the more time you will be able to focus on your customer facing product. SaaS solutions maintained by professionals allow you to outsource the maintenance problemwhile giving the best level of service.

3- Don’t choose a solution that has a learning curve.

Investing time in learning a technology for your Admin will not bring direct value to your customers. Open Source frameworks such as RailsAdmin, ActiveAdmin or Administrate (All of them being Ruby Gems) with proprietary languages are an unscalable time-trap. Best performing companies focus their learning only on technologies that will better fulfill their customer’s’ need.

4- Do look for a Solution that can adapt quickly to the evolution of business needs.

As features are rolled out and customers pile up, operational needs keep evolving at a rapid pace and it’s critical to keep up. Badly coordinated operations can quickly ruin your customer experience and ruin the business’ reputation -especially if your market is very customer reviews driven-. An In-House built admin will force you to do the work twice at every feature you roll out: once for the customer facing, and a second time to control it from the back office. Building appropriate operational tools can become quickly very time expensive. Best performing companies use adaptable plug and play solutions to build their admin.

5- Do seek seamless integrations with 3rd parties.

Your App doesn’t exist in a vacuum, all companies use SaaS based solutions and sooner or later you will need to integrate them in your Admin. OpenSource admin solutions such as RailsAdmin and ActiveAdmin get the job done quickly for CRUD actions, but will provide very little flexibility as for custom integrations. No serious business operates with that kind of solution at scale, and implementing integrations for your Admin is just one more of these time traps that doesn’t bring value to your customer-facing product. Instant SaaS integrations rule in the land of unicorns’ Admins.

What your admin should include.

Your Admin’s primary mission is to allow to search, read and manipulate data. FOREST is a free tool that plugs into your App and will allow you to get this done without a single line of code. Build your interface in a minute with the integrated search feature and the interface builder and go back to work on your product.

With off-the-shelf solutions for all common operations and workflows, FOREST is ready to use in minutes. One of them is the Smart Chart builder: it only takes a few clicks in the interface to create and place dynamic charts in your dashboard. All the metrics and charts that have a business relevance from experience with top performing companies at every stage are pre-included in FOREST.

The best thing is that, by design, all your data stays yours, and all your code stays yours. FOREST never has access to either of these.

Comparison of Free and Freemium Admin Panel options.

While ActiveAdmin and RailsAdmin only work with Ruby on Rails, the 3 others are technology agnostic. FOREST is the only solution that works on every Stack and was designed from the ground up to efficiently address all categories. Hence it’s really scoring full in every one of them.