Jonathan Parisot
Oct 5, 2018 · 4 min read

I’m Jonathan, the CEO & cofounder of ActionDesk. We let business teams easily automate their processes using only their spreadsheet skills, saving them tons of time. Here’s why:

There’s a problem:

When it comes to automation, business teams have basically two choices:

  1. Working with their own developers, if they have them
  2. Using existing workflow automation tools

But the first solution has its own problems:

  • Technical teams in every company in the world already have too much to do
  • Internal processes automation usually isn’t a priority when customers need more features
  • Business teams become very dependant on the technical team, not about to go as fast as they would like.

The second solution is far from perfect as well:

  • Simple solutions like Zapier limit the potential steps that can go into your workflows
  • Complex software like Workato, Tray.io, Parabola.io have a steep learning curve.

Before starting ActionDesk, I ran an e-commerce company where there were many processes we wanted to automate. Two examples:

  • Create a Zendesk ticket whenever an order is going to be late
  • Create a Salesforce task whenever the conversion rate of a product was too low and the traffic was high (because that probably meant people wanted the product but found it too expensive, so we wanted our buyers to renegotiate the price with the supplier).

To do it, we were always mixing Google Sheets and Zapier. Google Sheets let us manipulate and treat our data easily, and Zapier push data into the business apps we were using (Salesforce, Zendesk, Wrike, etc.). However, this is not satisfying either as it still requires some manual work or coding to make it work properly.

Solution:

We started ActionDesk with one strong conviction: Spreadsheets are the best way for business teams to collaborate when manipulating, calculating and combining data.

ActionDesk melds the best workflow automation tools with the ease of use of spreadsheets by:

  • Importing data from any data source (database, business applications, etc.)
  • Manipulating, combining, and performing calculations on the data just as you would in Excel or Google Sheets (yes, you’ll get to use the vlookup, pivot tables and formulas you already know)
  • Trigger actions in third party apps

You can see how it works here. Please, be harsh — it’s a beta :)

Use Cases:

Like spreadsheets, ActionDesk is a flexible tool and can be used for various use cases. Here are some generic examples we’ve observed with our early clients:

1/ Piping Data between various tools

With ActionDesk, you easily gather data from various sources and push them to the app you need.

For example, we have one client who gathers data from Stripe and their own database, calculates indicators per client, and feeds those KPIs to each client’s account on Hubspot. Their account managers can make decisions with the right data without having to open yet another tool to get the right KPIs for their accounts.

You could also easily calculate indicators that will be refreshed whenever you want and pushed to Slack, email, or any other app you find useful.

2/ Spotting problems thanks to data and managing your customers’ expectations

This was the actual problem I started with when at Jumia, Africa’s leading e-commerce platform. Jumia had (and still has) complex operations:

  • As customers were paying cash on delivery, after they place an order, we would call them to make sure they actually want the product they ordered and didn’t make a mistake
  • Then, depending on the type of good, we would either ship it directly from our warehouse or go and pick it up from the supplier’s warehouse
  • Finally, as quality logistics providers are hard to find in Africa, we would handle the deliveries ourselves.

The whole process has dozens of different steps. At each step, something can go wrong. When handling large volumes, you’ll always make some mistakes. What’s important is to minimize those mistakes and to handle the communication well with your customer when something does go wrong.

ActionDesk lets you easily calculate the time that each step takes for each order and, for example, create a Zendesk ticket each time there’s a problem. That way, your customer service team will be able to properly handle the communication with your customers.

3/ Spot declining or growing activity and improve retention and upselling

With ActionDesk, you can take your data from your analytics tools, your database, your CRM and calculate indicators that will help you spot declining or growing activity. Depending your business, these could be:

  • Number of connections to your app
  • Number of purchases
  • Number of products listed

You can easily create an action for one of your team members whenever one of those indicators declines by X% or grows by Y%. This action could be a task in a CRM, for example.

Of course, these are only examples, ActionDesk can be used for a wide variety of use cases. If you have any idea of how you’d use it, I’d love to hear it — you can comment here, write to me on Twitter @JoParisot or sign up on actiondesk.io.

ActionDesk

We save business teams time by making it easy for them to build powerful automations using only their spreadsheets skills

Jonathan Parisot

Written by

CEO & cofounder @ActionDesk.io, previously Managing Director @Jumia, @RocketInternet

ActionDesk

We save business teams time by making it easy for them to build powerful automations using only their spreadsheets skills

Welcome to a place where words matter. On Medium, smart voices and original ideas take center stage - with no ads in sight. Watch
Follow all the topics you care about, and we’ll deliver the best stories for you to your homepage and inbox. Explore
Get unlimited access to the best stories on Medium — and support writers while you’re at it. Just $5/month. Upgrade