If you were talking to someone whose organization is considering Zudy VINYL, what would you say?
How would you rate it and why? Any other tips or advice?
This is a platform which should be considered seriously for rapid prototyping. If you want to build it yourself, at least use them to do the early testing. I would also recommend to consider them for your long-term production platform use. For data management and data visualization, this product is hard to beat. Feature-wise, I haven't run into anything that we just can't do. It accesses our external systems and processes, using them very well. For what they have given me, the product is a 10 (out of 10).
I guess I would say "be open to it." And, if you're a programmer, don't look at it with a programmer's mind. If you're a business person or business analyst, you're going to be able to understand how the tool works. Programmers, coders have a pre-set understanding of how to code, and this is not how to code. This is how to build an APP. So you have to go into it with an open mind. On a scale of one to ten, I'd probably rate it at an eight. It is a young product and still growing. I see it growing the right way. As long as they, the VINYL staff and developers, keep up with changes of the technology and the times, I see it growing to be better than eight, but right now, eight because of some of the limitations it has.
If I were to give advice to somebody researching a solution such as VINYL, I would tell them to make sure that they understand all of the ins and outs, especially on the front end in what the user sees to make sure that VINYL has the capabilities they're looking for from a front end and customer facing perspective. To ensure that it has visuals, its ease of use, its ability to click through and be mobile at the same time as web-based. On a scale of one to ten, I would rate Zudy VINYL about a seven. I'm not too familiar with it yet to give it a more solid rating. We're able to develop things quickly, but at the same time there's been a lot of issues across multiple pages where it should have been fixed once, and it's fixed on certain pages, but not all as we're going through the development process.
If I knew of anybody that was out considering an investment in a low-code or a no-code development platform, I would encourage them to call me and let's have a conversation about how VINYL has changed my ability to lead at IT and it's changed NXC Imaging's ability to run their business. On a scale from one to ten, I think Zudy VINYL is a nine. It's not quite a ten because it doesn't do everything and it can't write itself, but we've been able to do more things in the last eleven months to make our company run better than previous organizations and teams and applications did in the previous four years.
From my perspective at Brooks Brothers, VINYL has had pretty much every function or feature that we've needed. I'm interested to see what they do manage to incorporate on top of that because I'm sure we'll find a use for it. The VINYL Solution has helped increase productivity at Brooks Brothers. We've been able to standardize our processes in the stores and in our factories with a made to measure solution and alterations. In doing so, we've allowed the business to not worry about those and to focus on growing sales. This solution has increased our rate of iterations for deploying new releases from six months or twelve months down to two months or six weeks. So, quite the increase of frequency where we're able to deliver new features to the stores. If researching VINYL versus other similar solutions, I would try to keep in mind really what their strengths are and compare them to each other. From my perspective, the strength of VINYL is clear with its flexibility and its ease of use, ease of development, and that's not to be understated. You can really deliver powerful apps in way less time than other solutions I've seen. On a scale of one to ten, I would rate VINYL probably an eight or a nine, simply because of the flexibility and the power that it has in bringing data to one source, and then reacting to it and building an app you need with those data points.
VINYL has increased user satisfaction. We're bringing the users and getting them involved in the development process. We're making fewer mistakes in the process, and we're also getting them excited about it because they can see what's happening and they have their input. It's the features they want, not what IT thinks they want. They get more excited about it. Our iterations are faster. With VINYL you're talking days or weeks potentially. Another piece of advice I would give to a colleague researching for a software solution is, if you're looking for something that doesn't require a specialized programming language and you want something that you can develop quickly in, and you want something that's going to pull data from a bunch of different places, I think VINYL's a good option. I would rate VINYL a nine. Not a 10, because nobody's perfect, but it's going to be huge for us.
We use it quite extensively within the teams that I support. There are already initiatives underway to expand to additional business units/domains. The product can do almost whatever you need it to do. However, the "how" to do this can be challenging. Leveraging Zudy Professional Services has allowed us to get more bang for our buck using this product.
Initially, make sure you have a good structure for your database. It's not necessary, but it makes the integration a little easier. Once you have that, the best way to learn is just to play with it. Build a simple app. Work on building your tables. It's good to have a goal in mind. You focus on making that app, a very simple one, but one that is also working well. Once you get that working, within a couple of weeks you'll be a pro and you can be running through apps and developing on some level. Beyond that, it's just fine-tuning those skills and learning what other features VINYL offers. We have five people using it. Only I am really developing on it. Perhaps there's one other person developing on it. The goal is to have the majority of people using it in some capacity to replace all of their miscellaneous spreadsheets and to replace a lot of the interfaces that they're using. We want to make everything more consistent and centralized around one application that everyone can use. In terms of maintenance, it takes two or three people: one on their end to make sure they're okay if something happens; one on our end to make sure our systems are okay, and one person to develop. There isn't much day-to-day maintenance. I don't really have much to compare it to. This is the first time I've used a no-code solution like this. But in my experience, I'd say it's a nine out of ten. It doesn't get a ten because there are some features that seem to be "hidden" behind the terminology. The more you play with it you learn it but sometimes those features are not very up-front. It's not until you dig through the user manual that you get to understand what those features are about.
A full-stack developer can easily understand VINYL because it covers almost all areas of development. We can develop our own code and push it inside VINYL. If a database developer goes into VINYL, he's used to a different set of rules, a different set of charts, etc. So that is different. This tool is particularly suited for a full-stack developer. We have some 1,000 users of VINYL. The deployment took just one person within our company. Two people are enough for maintenance of the solution. For us, it is maintained by our solution architect and senior solution architect. Our future plan is to enhance more applications inside VINYL. The current applications that we are taking care of have some bugs that we're looking into, to make sure everything looks good. VINYL is helping to implement the process quickly. I would rate VINYL at seven out of ten. We still need some more improvements inside, as I mentioned, such as the UI. In coming versions, I'm sure this product will rock. It's continuing to develop and mature.
Definitely make sure that internal staff learn how applications are built. Zudy does provide free training and I highly recommend it so that you can bring all development back in-house, be a little bit more self-sufficient with it and not reliant on Zudy. From the very beginning, learn the platform as much as possible and learn from Zudy developers that you work with. The entire time we've had VINYL, we've had Zudy developers contracted to our company, so it's actually Zudy employees who have been doing the development. I've never actually built one of our own solutions but I did attend a Zudy training session to learn how to build solutions. Our applications are so much more advanced than what we covered in the training but I can see how it all fits together. It's like breaking apart coding and development into an ultra-configuration tool. I wouldn't say that it's relatively simple. You do have to have a developer mindset about bringing all the pieces together. I wouldn't say someone brand new could be given this tool and build an application. You do have to have some understanding of how the different layers in the VINYL platform work together. And even then, there are just so many more advanced features that you can use that really get into how we're using it. As far as anything really basic goes, even then you would need some level of training to be able to use the tool. In terms of how many users are currently using VINYL in our organization, most of our applications have been targeted to very niche users. Originally, it probably wasn't more than 50 or so, but we've been working on soft-releases and rollout of one of our other applications for that "Customer 360" view and, eventually, the entire company will have access to that. We have close to 400 employees. We're an insurance company so the roles of the VINYL users are anything and everything. For our event management, there's an underwriting tool and that's used in agency relations. We've got another tool used by underwriting. That department has been the primary user. We've got an application that simplifies calculations of insurance premiums for very very specific policy types. Our underwriting compliance team use it to track their filings. We have a deductible-billing application, which is one of the ones that is consuming information and putting it into a new, modern output. That's used by our finance department. There's another agency relations application we use that tracks progress of our top agents and it tracks extra commission that we can provide to those agents. And the "Customer 360" can be used by any department, mainly our underwriting and claims departments. It really is flexible. Maintenance is very minimal. With our live production applications, they just don't break, which is great. We love that. There's zero-to-little maintenance required. We've got quite a few applications in production now and we've got more in development. There are a few more on the list to go into development. We've still got a sizable backlog to work through. Overall I would rate it a seven out of ten. I love how customizable it is, how easy it is, how fast it can be. The downside is that scalability and the troubles dealing with large data sets.
Consider Zudy, at least when you are getting started, because their people listen and deliver what you ask them to do. We love the tool. I like it enough to introduce it to another division of the company. They have added some security features at our specific request. We are told that other customers are very receptive to those security features. We have had minimal problems with the product and a high degree of success with their consultants, service providers, and technical support people. In addition, the success that we have experienced with recommendations that we've suggested to improve the product. They are easy and fantastic to do business with. They don't have to be micromanaged.
Discuss your needs with them, make sure they understand the end goal. Then they can customize it to your needs. With us, we kept changing what we wanted, how to use it, so we had to keep going back to the drawing board. But they're extremely willing to find a way to make what you want, as long as they know what you want. There is some patience required in getting it set up because it's different for everyone. Everyone uses it differently, so you do have to be patient with the initial setup process. When I was brought on it was because we had to find a way to go from our system, take our numbers, and figure out what it was we wanted to see on the screen, and how we could get them from our system into VINYL. We don't really do inventory the normal way with our company, so we had to find a way to get inventory displayed through VINYL. Be patient and communicate, explain what your needs are, and figure out where the data come from in your system to be able to project it into VINYL. The way we use it is so heavy on finance. We need our numbers to be precise. Everything comes down to precision and numbers for us. We're able to get that and it's helped us for sure. I really like VINYL. I would rate it a nine out of ten. I see the advantage of it and I also see so many ways we could use it more here. I want to keep pushing for us to use it in more ways because I can see how it can be so beneficial if we start pulling in other systems. The fun part is, the messier it feels for us, the more excited they sound at wanting to solve the problem.
Have meetings with the developers, and make sure that you're clear on exactly what you need before you start to have them develop it. Be really clear. I would give VINYL an eight out of ten, and I would say that it's great. The eight is because it's pretty user-friendly, it's clean, and it's reliable. I don't know if there are other things out there that are better than this, but for what we have needed so far, based on what I've seen so far, this is pretty helpful.
The product itself is very solid. The places where we've had issues are internal, with regards to a cultural mindset shift, because the business was not used to getting solutions this quickly. They have to think differently about how they engage with these projects. They have to move into more of an agile mindset and move away from the old waterfall mindset of saying, “Hey, if we're going to do this design for three months, build for three months, test three months, then in nine months we'll get a tool.” Instead, these are rapid sprints where, every few weeks, we're delivering new capability. That, to me, has been the biggest adjustment for us. The technology piece is relatively straightforward. It's really the change management and people management that you have to work on. Make sure your business is ready for it. People have to be willing to move quickly and change their way of thinking so that you can deliver value incrementally, as opposed to trying to boil the ocean and do everything in one go over nine to 12 months. We've been very happy with it. I would give it a nine out of 10. I never give anyone a 10. I think for every product there are things they can continue to build that will help the customer. I'm sure there are other things Zudy could do which would give us even more things we could do with it.
You need to have buy-in from both the business team and the IT team. Anytime you implement a new platform like this, if you don't have people internally who are going to embrace the product, it's going to fail. I'd call VINYL an eight out of 10. It does what it's supposed to do. It continues to improve. We're getting good usage out of it, and I think it's a great value for the price.
Try it. Sometimes, the use cases are not evident. Start slow and pilot it and the value becomes evident.
They give you a free trial of what it can do. Go in with something that's easier, not harder, because that is going to give you an idea of what it can do, and you can basically work from that point on. I rate it an eight out of 10. There is always room for improvement. If they could just make it a little bit easier for the customer to learn how to use it themselves, that would make it better.
The sky is the limit. It is able to pretty much do anything and everything that you thought a computer couldn't do. You should just really embrace it. It took me a while to embrace it but they're a really great company to work with. I would rate it at eight out of 10. I think a Gantt chart would probably put it to a nine. I don't think anything's ever perfect. I'm feeling concerned about when we end our relationship directly with Zudy and just work with our own IT department, how quick the changes will be. Overall, it's a really great product. It's able to tie into different departments. From my understanding, it's what they were intending for this. We're able to use it across the board, all the departments.