Interview: Making IT Service Management A Breeze with Gapp

“Translation with Localazy is so easy. You have linked projects that help share the lingo. Now we need more automatic translation providers to support Galician”, says Óscar Beiro, CEO of TICgal.

Self Service Support systems are all the rage - and for good reason! Not only are they convenient for IT teams, but also for project and supplier management. Tools like GLPI can help immensely. Gapp aims to take it everywhere, so you can open and manage a ticket and track techs from your phone.

As the first Spanish partner of this open-source ITSM tool, the Galician startup TICgal has developed this mobile app for GLPI that streamlines processes and makes it even easier to manage different kinds of assets. Gapp was launched in December 2019, and so far it has been a success. Today we discuss tech, innovation, and localization with its founder, Óscar Beiro.

📱 The Product 🔗

Hi, Óscar! Congrats on your recent launch! Can you tell us a little about the product?

Sure! It's a mobile app for GLPI. For those of you that still don't know it, GLPI is an open-source ITSM tool powered by Teclib, and our company, TICgal, was the first partner in Spanish in the world.

It focuses on two main areas:

  • ⏳ Asset Management (ITAM)
  • 🛠️ Helpdesk (ITIL aligned)

Other services are covered on the way, like project management and supplier management. It is endlessly expandable through plugins and the Rest API, which we extensively use in our mobile development.

Why an app and not a web service?

IT web tools are great and can be quite responsive, but at the end of the day, nothing beats an app when on the move. ✌️ This is exactly Gapp’s target.

What was your motivation? What problems does the app solve in this remote era?

Does anyone remember a world without smartphones? You want every tool you need in the palm of your hand. We want to solve these two problems:

  1. Provide a means to ease the job of a field technician.
  2. Help users to open and track the help requests from end-users when they are not in front of their desktops.

That was initially, and now we even use Gapp to clock in and off work!

What kind of plugins have you implemented?

Plugins integrations are White Label Gapp only. As for now we have integrated plugins like Credit ⏱️, which allows hourly-supported clients to check the remaining available support time and see the tickets in which it's been consumed; or Barcode 📲, which you can use to get basic asset information by scanning a QR, among other things.

We have also developed plugins for our free (Gapp Essentials) and premium editions (Gapp eXtended), as well as TAM 🕠, a plugin to clock in and off; Actualtime 📝, to track action time on tasks; and WayPoints 🚘, which tracks roadwarriors' time on the move.

Impressive! So, who are your customers? How are they responding to the product?

Any organization with an IT department. Pretty much every organization with more than 50 computers! Currently, there is not a mobile tool for GLPI apart from ours, so having your tickets on hand and integrating other modules - like TAM for clocking in and off - is very handy. The most relevant features we offer are tech geolocation 🧭  for both travel and work.

"We offer tech geolocation for both travel and work"

We currently have customers on four continents and 12 countries: public, private, non-profits...  Gapp is not being used by big companies yet, but we have some clients that will implement it very soon, like the Murcia City Council. We also work with the Spanish Ministry of Science and Innovation, Carne Group (an Irish financial asset management company), and RCS Angola, who is currently tracking more than a hundred field technicians all over the country using our app. 🚗💨

🌊 Success At The End of The World 🔗

We're curious to hear about your personal entrepreneurship story. How did the project start?

TICgal is an indirect result of the financial crisis. A slice of unfulfillment and underappreciation on the job and a considerable salary reduction on top made the rest.

I’d been the IT guy on a small construction company bought by a big one. I thought other small companies would need a guy like me to handle their IT needs, even if they didn’t have the resources to onboard them. I didn’t see that kind of service on the IT Services we had from 3rd party companies. As it turns out, I was wrong. 😁

You've turned eight recently. I'd say that's a success!

It is! TICgal has recently blown its 8th candle, and the team is built by seven people right now. 👏 One of them is 100% remote. Before covid, we used remote working very scarcely. The Spanish legislation is very strict with this, and it doesn’t really help. It might sound awful, but we grew during the pandemic: somehow, our demand skyrocketed, like many other IT companies.

But, what does success look like for your company?

Getting requests from all over the world while being physically in a small city (Pontevedra) near the end of the world (Galicia) is how we measure our success. It might sound like a cliché, but we work locally to go global. 🌍 We are small, but that means we have the ability to change our direction quickly. Beginnings were hard, but in my opinion, the most crucial thing in a company is to endure.

"We work local to go global. We are small, but that means we have the ability to change our direction quickly"

True! That sounds pretty similar to our approach to doing things at Localazy. But tell me, what's next? What are your future funding plans?

This is just one of our multiple projects, so the idea is to sell White Label versions of Gapp and get it self-funded. We are currently working on multiple integrations. Some of them are ongoing, like a 3CX Voip to register phone calls and link them to tickets, ticket synchronization between other Service Desk big players shown on the Gartner Magic Quadrant, and PinkVERIFY like Jira, Remedy BMC, Cherwell, Ivanti... We are even considering an SAP integration!

One thing's for sure, there's no such thing as having 'too many' integrations.

💪 Challenges & Lessons 🔗

What are the most significant risks & challenges for your company?

It is being able to scale. We are now working on creating processes to help us handle the challenges associated with it.

Also, hiring. 🧑‍💻 I’ve been an employee. Now I have a view from the other side, and believe me when I tell you that I try to make the work experience as nice as possible. Last year TICgal had a significant profit for the first time, and everyone had their share.

Lovely! Can you share with our readers in which fields are you innovating now?

Right now, we are implementing a mileage tracking system for the vehicles. We think about a new feature pretty much every month. Unfortunately, it's not a 100% bulletproof experience. For instance, there is no mobile Internet coverage in electromagnetically sealed buildings. We are designing an experimental offline mode to overcome these issues.

What do you think – what will your industry look like about 10 years from now?

It's hard to know how will it look next year! 🤔 Probably more automation, assistants, robots... but you will still need somebody to build customizations because every organization has its peculiarities.

If you could start again with your product, what would you do differently from today’s perspective?

Nothing! We have started it three times! This has to be the good one. 😀

What did failure teach you?

I will say my three learned lessons are:

  1. 🔄 MVP is the way. Don't try to create a perfect product or service. If you find the path, it will evolve; if you need to change direction, you won’t have wasted precious resources.
  2. 👂 Listen to your clients. If more than one has the same need, by solving it you can have a reusable product to offer.
  3. 💡 Think ahead. Try to anticipate future needs and have an answer for them.

Thank you for sharing the advice.

🗺️ Regional Localization Done Right 🔗

Would you like to highlight some services or products you really like to use on your own?

We develop using plain PHP for the backend and Flutter for the mobile dev. Other products we like are Crashlytics, FCM, and Analytics from Firebase, and our last discovery was Localazy. We love how it integrates into our development cycle and the friendly user interface for our translation contributors. We have more than 20 projects opened and haven't even finished migrating all our developments!

"We have more than 20 projects opened in Localazy and haven't even finished migrating all our developments!"

What is your motivation for localization? Why did you choose Localazy?

Living in Galicia and using a language spoken by less than 3 million people has taught me to contribute to different translation projects. Every single project we build (except for very customized ones) has English as the primary language and a translation into Galician and Spanish. Then GLPI has a big community in Brazil, so Portuguese is probably an option.

Localazy's unlimited languages plans fit us since they usually have few strings per project, but we want them translated into as many languages as our users need. In the past, we had these "fights" between European and American Spanish and the same with Portuguese. Localazy lets us deal with them frictionlessly.

So, are you guys happy with the final result?

Translation with Localazy is so easy. You have the linked projects that help share the lingo. It's a great idea that I haven’t seen in other translation tools. Now we need more automatic translation providers to support Galician. ✊ We haven’t yet hired the Localazy translation services, but as soon as we get a request to support a language we don’t know, it will be our first choice.

"In the past, we had these "fights" between European and American Spanish. The same happened with Portuguese. Localazy lets us deal with different dialects frictionlessly"

Also, what are the next languages you are working on implementing?

The first language is always English, and we provide a Galician and Spanish translation for all the developments, except for the custom ones, that are handled directly by the clients. This is another handy Localazy feature. We send an invitation to the translators, and they can easily deal with them. Gapp 1 was in 13 languages, and Gapp 2 is only in 9, but I’m confident we will surpass that number this year as soon as it is released.

Is there something you would like to add?

Although small, this is our biggest project. Creating plugins and apps for a pretty well-known and thriving app as GLPI expands our market worldwide. In 2014 I was on my own; now, we are a team of 7 members. Not impressive but shows a growth path. 🌱 The next step is not on us but on the clients. Their needs will shape our future, and the company will evolve to cover them, as we try to anticipate.

Also, for our public projects, we open the translations to the community contribution. If you like Gapp and want it in your language, you will only need time and knowledge. Together, Localazy and TICgal will handle the rest 😊. Děkuji!

Thank you too, Óscar!

Find more about Gapp and TICgal's projects here.

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