When a startup’s business takes off, a lot of changes happen. More people come on board, departments are created, more features are added on the user-facing portal, more requests for data are made by business partners. To keep up with these changes the backend and internal processes must evolve. If they don’t, the efficiency of your operations is at a risk — and the whole project can fail.
That’s why the most successful startups invest a lot in their internal operations, in selecting or building the right tools from the beginning, and in thinking thoroughly about data repositories and adapt their processes and team roles as they grow. They do this to remain lean and efficient while growing.
Survival of the fittest as it was described by Darwin still very much applies to the startup world. Short of achieving operational excellence, most startups — like most new species — go extinct.
We at Forest are convinced that the central part of a startup is the least visible one: the admin interface. It is the backbone of all business operations. And if at first most admin interfaces are perfectly adapted tool to early-stage startups, the admin interface quickly becomes a major pain in expanding and scaling your business operations.
It all starts with a single cell
Your earliest admin, like the earliest stages of life, is mono-cellular. You run the business on your own. You are both the mind and body of the organization. You analyse data, think of solutions, and put them in place all by yourself.
At this stage, your admin is at it’s most basic level: your developer database console.
You enter it directly and type sql queries as needed to retrieve and manipulate the relatively low amounts of data that you need to keep moving forward.
The first mutation
As your needs to collect the precious data generated by your app grow, so does your irritation at having to type the same queries over and over. So you adapt: you implement a graphical interface that keeps your sql queries lined up and ready to type.
Bear in mind that at this point, you’re probably still flying solo and this little tweak is all that’s needed to keep your operations running smoothly. And it works. Until you’re no longer on your own…
The multi-cellular leap
Something momentous just happened to your organization: you’ve grown and are now a team working full-time on your project. What was a perfectly adapted solution to your solo venture is tragically out of touch for the needs of your business team. And your admin once again needs to adapt.
This time you install phpmyadmin (or something similar). You can work together on it — your single-cell organism is now multi-cellular.
But the tool is error-prone, and with greater amounts of people working on your back-office it isn’t long before things start getting way out of hand.
Coding your own backbone
Your admin needs to support your ever growing business team’s efforts to collect, interpret and act on your app’s data. Their needs for ever-greater amounts of detail, new KPIs to track, and new actions to customize user journeys are going to require something more than what your current admin can offer. And they need it fast.
As any good project manager would do, you list all of the different use cases that need to be covered by your new admin. The amount of needs alone is intimidating…
The solution seems all too obvious: I need to build my own admin. Why? Because it can’t possibly take more than a week. Because I alone know what functions the admin needs to perform. And besides, this is the only route available at this point. What even is there to think about? Let’s start coding this bad boy!
There is another way
Hold it for a minute there. Let’s go back to your list of use cases that your admin is going to cover. There’s a good chance that, regardless of the exact nature of your business, some (if not all) of the following elements will appear:
- Search and filters
- CRUD operations
- Handle pagination
- Import/export data
- Permissions management
- Dashboard view of all KPIs
When a new species branches off the evolutionary tree, it doesn’t start from scratch. Smart species adapt. So why should developers endlessly reinvent the wheel, when really all they need is a different type of tyre to meet the specific needs of their business.
Survival of the fittest
Don’t get us wrong, it’s a dog eat dog world out there. Only the most efficient companies will succeed. Those that have a rock solid admin that speeds up the development team’s work and allows business teams to access data and run operations are set at an evolutionary advantage to beat the competition.
This is why we at Forest 🌲 have set on a mission to create the ultimate admin interface building tool: simple to deploy, scalable and customisable at will. We aim to provide a backbone with which all startups can build their own back-office, modify it to meet their specific needs, run their operations and scale their business. And Darwin would have loved it, or so we like to think…
If you’re excited by this concept and believe your application deserves a great admin interface, welcome to the Forest (it’s free).
Thanks for reading. Stay tuned, wood takes shape and tells new stories…