Digital Transformation for SMEs - Nutshell Apps

Meet Chris Sharp, Nutshell’s Commercial Director.


Chris started his career at Sage, the North East’s largest software company. He has since worked in various software companies over 20 years in a range of industries working with the smallest and largest businesses. “10 years ago I was very excited about cloud solutions connected via API’s, and how this could create effective joined up solutions for businesses – this is now the norm. Now, I’m even more excited about how No-Code software can empower businesses with fully bespoke solutions, at a price that rivals off-the-shelf. Due to the flexibility of No-Code, software solutions can evolve as business requirements change over time.”


Q: “How much does it cost to develop a business app?” 

A: Traditionally, to build an app for a business would be a massive software project with software developers and coders. It would start with the requirements capturing and gathering stage, which can be quite onerous, and then move into build, coding, QA and finally a release. If that’s being financed and paid for, coders really are quite expensive and it will run into the tens of thousands of pounds.

The great thing about the No-Code platforms out now is that you don’t need coders to build those apps. The requirements gathering stage can be shortened and the apps can be tweaked and changed much more quickly and efficiently. This drastically reduces the cost and speed. It also allows multiple apps to link together and be amended. As legislation changes, as business needs change, you’re not stuck with that fixed app that you initially paid for. So, the barrier to app development within a business, especially for SMEs, has come down significantly as a result of no code. 

Q: “Why is digitisation important for SMEs?”

A: Digitisation is important for SMEs because not only does it save time and reduce a lot of administration, it allows you to uncover trends, make better decisions and most importantly, it really allows businesses to scale. So, putting a robust process in place and then digitising that process really allows scalability. 

Digitising processes also gives you access to real time data. Quite often with manual processes, there’s always a big lag in getting that data into a report and even if your reporting is done weekly, it’s still not real time. By digitising processes, we do find that because businesses are more efficient, because their processes can be sped up, that customer experience can be improved. Ultimately, the goal is to become more efficient and to offer a better service to the end customer, and digitisation can really have a huge impact on that. 


46% of companies investing in digital technologies have seen an increase in their annual turnover

Source: Publications Office of the EU

Q: “What are the barriers to digitisation?”

A: One of the perceived barriers to digitisation is cost, or the perception SMEs have that they aren’t ‘big enough’ yet to digitise. Within small businesses, lots of full-time employees could be doing simple processes that could all be digitised. At Nutshell, we do have clients who have digitised large parts of their business and the cost savings to their business is ten times what the initial investment was in software. So, the return on investment of digitisation is staggering. It’s one of the easiest ways to make your business more profitable and a hugely sensible thing to do.

Another barrier small businesses may face is the question, ‘I’ve spent this money, I’ve petitioned to get this money and directors have invested. How am I going to get staff to use the product?’. There are a few ways to do that and we support businesses through that process. One way is to find the one person that’s probably most likely to object and try to get that person bought in on day one. If you don’t get that person bought in on day one, they might continuously have objections to using the product. So quite often, getting that one detractor bought in upfront is a great way to help with digital transformation. Secondly, because we are a bespoke package, the products that we create replicate existing processes. The forms and checklists could look identical, so the barrier to using is much slower. Whereas if you get a generic off the shelf product, there’s a good chance that people are going to have to change their processes and ways of working around the product. With No-Code, because we’re bespoke, that’s not the case.  

Q: “How do small businesses digitally transform?”

A: Typically, small businesses will have a viewpoint that they need to become more digital. But to kickstart that process of digitisation, it will start with one small area and it might be something simple like collecting data on site or filling in an inspection. These particular processes could be extremely tedious and onerous, paper based or taking multiple people to enter data. This will be SMEs biggest problem to date, so they will digitise those processes. 

What I’ve found is when SMEs digitise the first one or two processes, they really start to reap the benefits. They start to save money, time and they start to understand their customers better. As well as that, businesses who have been with Nutshell Apps a multitude of years will have 10 or more apps, because they just keep adding and growing as they see more value from digitally transforming their processes.  

Q: “What are the risks to digitisation?” 

A: There are definite risks to digitisation. SMEs could digitise a process and struggle to get their workforce to buy into that process, it could sit on the shelf and not get used. If that product doesn’t integrate with other systems, there is a risk it will still require duplication of data and duplication of entry. However, I would say that overall, the real risk is not digitising and remaining manual. Scanning documents into databases, not being able to retrieve information, reams of paper that could get flooded, burnt or lost. Finally, if your business starts to grow fast and you haven’t started digitising your processes, it’s going to be a lot more difficult. It’s much easier to digitise as a SME than to begin once you’ve started to scale and you’re in a fast growth phase. 

Q: “What is the future of software?” 

A: I think we’re now starting to move into this position where bespoke software and solutions are so affordable as a result of No-Code. Instead of SMEs getting pick and mix software, they can get an exact, bespoke solution that they actually need. That was always something that only large enterprise companies would have access to, but because of no-code, it’s coming down market and allowing SMEs to compete with the bigger companies. 

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