Stacker Case Study
FD Works has a vision to give smaller, creative, agile businesses the kind of accountancy support that big corporations enjoy. This means focusing attention on building engaging, active relationships with its clients.
To achieve this the FD Works team needed a single point of reference for the growing data it was collecting in Airtable. The internal team all needed to be able to access and manage this data, and as a way to give their clients secure access.
Since FD Works does not have any developers on the team, Managing Director Jonathan Gaunt wanted a no-code solution that he could build and maintain himself.
FD Works Stats
- Business Type: Accountancy practice
- Established: 2013
- Employees: 15
- Clients: 75+
- Primary Markets: Ambitious businesses in the creative and tech sectors with strong growth ambitions.
- Objectives: Deliver specialist financial support; Build active relationships with customers; Become the clients’ “best friend in finance.”
- Data Tool Stack: Airtable and Stacker.
- Website: https://www.fd-works.co.uk
With no coders on the team, FD Works needed to build a custom client and internal data portal. Stacker helped the company to do this by bringing its Airtable data together in a single place.
Challenge: Bringing data together in one place
“You have a finance team in large businesses that knows you and supports you,” says FD Works founder and managing director, Jonathan Gaunt. “In a small business you have an accountant who you maybe see once a year.”
“We’d keep winding up reverting back to a spreadsheet.”
Having worked as a Chartered Management Accountant for large corporations and banks for over 15 years, it became Jonathan’s vision to bring that personalised support to smaller businesses. He has a passion for working with talented, ambitious business owners, and intimately understand the need for building active, engaged relationship with such clients.
Established accountancy systems just weren’t designed to do this.
“We understood the data that we needed in order to provide good service. We kept looking at traditional platforms, like CRMs, but we always needed an extra field or to collect some extra information. So we’d keep winding up reverting back to a spreadsheet.”
When Airtable came along, Jonathan instantly saw the advantage of moving beyond a spreadsheet and into a database. As far as data collection and storage went, this shift into Airtable solved a huge number of FD Works’ problems.
“Visualising our data in Airtable bases is a little bit unattractive and clunky. It was always a bit of a drive getting people to put their data into Airtable. It’s all about adoption. It can be the best tool in the world, but unless people use it there’s no point having it.”
With his ambition to not only build a powerful internal collaboration tool, but eventually open it up for clients to see and use, Airtable alone wasn’t going to be enough for FD Works. The team needed a custom tool that they could create and manage, without needing an in-house software team, or outsourcing to a developer.
Solution: Use Stacker as a front-end for Airtable bases
“Stacker is how we’re gathering all that information into one place."
Jonathan views Stacker as the missing piece of Airtable; giving FD Works a way to present the growing database of aggregate Airtable information that looks great, and is functional for the whole team.
“When someone asks for something, the answer is, ‘it’s in Stacker.’”
From maintaining clients’ contact information to gaining an overview of their whole account, Stacker is becoming the answer to more and more questions at FD Works. It provides the business with a one-stop-shop for easy, understandable access to all the data that’s spread across Airtable bases.
“Internally, a lot of answers are increasingly leading toward Stacker. When someone asks for something, the answer is, ‘it’s in Stacker.’”
As Jonathan begins field-testing client access, self-service is proving to be another solution in cultivating client relationships. The FD Works Stacker app lets clients keep their own contact details fully up-to-date. The team can add information such as payment deadlines so clients can always find out exactly when items like tax bills are due.
Legally required anti-money laundering checks can now be completed with the minimum of friction or hassle for the clients, as information is requested and delivered through the Stacker app from both ends.
All this is running and evolving without Jonathan having written a single line of code.
This is providing other benefits that Jonathan Jonathan never really anticipated when he began building his Stacker solution. Having this new birds-eye-view of all FD Works’ data, the team is gaining insights into their own efforts that weren’t previously visible.
“I see some of the things people are making, and I’m thinking to myself, I’d love to have a piece of that!”
“We’re now seeing that we’re doing some work, but it wasn’t actually part of a proposal. So we were actually doing it for free. The fact that we can get all the data into one place lets us look at the work scheduling and find those gaps. That’s been brilliant, and we wouldn’t have done that had Stacker not helped us to facilitate bringing our data into one place.“
It’s also stopped some old habits of locking information away on a spreadsheet that hasn’t been (or can’t be) shared. Or worse, scribbling important data down on a Post-it note that no one else has access to, and is easily lost or misunderstood.
Jonathan also speaks highly of the support he’s received from Stacker while using the tools, and of the growing community of makers who are using the platform in increasingly creative ways.
“The team’s been fantastic. Being able to jump on live chat and get a response has been great. I really like the community feel of Stacker’s Slack. I’m intrigued by how some people are pushing the boundaries. I see some of the things people are making, and I’m thinking to myself, I’d love to have a piece of that!”
FD Works now has a powerful, accessible, attractive portal at the heart of the business. It not only delivers and manages essential data that allows Jonathan and his team to deliver on its promise of being a client’s best friend in finance, but is also pivotal in building those essential customer relationships.
“Stacker’s done a fantastic job of embracing and delivering no-code.”
Jonathan has been able to build his custom solution entirely without code, but has also achieved much more than he set out to. What he’s created is highly adaptable, and as he rapidly becomes a Stacker expert he’s excited about the possibilities that the platform offers for the expansion and evolution of the FD Works app.
“Stacker’s done a fantastic job of embracing and delivering no-code. You need an appreciation of Airtable and how you structure data, but even without that you could still build something that’s really meaningful.”
He has big plans for new features to build into the FD Works app that will benefit both his team, and his increasingly engaged clients.
Thanks very much Jonathan and the FD Works team for taking the time to talk to us, and for making such a valuable contribution to the Stacker community.
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