In September 2014, Quinten, a business owner in Mtunzini, South Africa, had an admin problem. He was building a new commercial and residential complex in the centre of town. The various contractors involved generated a deluge of orders for bricks, cement and all kinds of building materials and Quinten had to approve and pay for them all. That might not have been so bad, but these orders were recorded solely on paper. This made it very difficult to track what was going on: which orders had been placed, who had approved them, whether they’d been paid and how much had been spent in total. So he asked me to develop some software for him.
We first looked at existing solutions, of course. All we found were full inventory management and procurement systems that were far too complex and expensive for Quinten’s needs. Eventually, we decided to create a new system that married the simplicity of the traditional - and still popular - paper order books to software’s workflow, accessibility and accountability benefits.
Over the next few months, I had the privilege of visiting Quinten’s offices many times to see how he and his employees worked and to discover how Orderbook.biz could best fit within their workflow. We came up with solutions to problems such as a builder calling from a shop to quickly get authorisation for a purchase he was about to make. Quinten was often on the road, so I made the notification and approval workflow 100% available over email.
I really enjoyed getting inside a company and learning how it worked. It was very satisfying to see their productivity increase because I’d taken the time to understand them and build an application around that understanding. Even better, other companies were also able to take advantage of the productivity boost!