Build yet another customer success/support/CMS internal tool

Over the period of the few last years, I have built several back-facing panels used by customer success teams, marketing folks, and other developers as well.

Various plug and play rails options like administrate or active admin are attractive options but in my experience quickly you will find them limiting and instead of speeding up do development process it will slow you down.

I think it’s bound to happen by the design. Yes, at the beginning you will need some simple CRUD, but once you got a point where you start optimizing the process how a company does things you can throw that CRUD out of the window. You usually will need to automate use cases very specific to your business domain.

So simple update on subscription becomes subscription activation and deactivation process where a lot of different side effects might happen and various preconditions might be required. Or you find out that the customer support team needs to have some more information presented at glance to do their work efficiently. As a side note simply observing how people do their daily work (live or asking for a recording with out-loud thought process) can lead to amazing discoveries - you might be surprised how many low-hanging fruits you might find.

I tend to use all the good stuff from ruby/rails ecosystem. Simple_form with bootstrap or semantic ui, ransack for advanced search capabilities, or pundit to deal with permissions is my usual go-to kit. With very simple tooling you can build quite powerful apps to empower your organization.

I have some experience using tools like Retool and frankly speaking, it looks great on paper, but I found that: first, it’s next to impossible to test in an automated manner; second, once you plug different sources into it (db and maybe some APIS) it becomes a bag of undocumented dependencies. Not to mention total vendor lock-in. Maybe it’s great for small teams that need to implement simple things - hard to tell. But in the build vs buy department, I’m usually in the build here.