With low-code development, businesses can create scalable, long-term solutions that don’t just solve problems but create opportunities.
The pandemic has disrupted businesses of every size in every industry across all regions. Despite the universality of the problems, each business has been left to craft a custom solution to survive and grow. To accomplish this, businesses have turned to low-code developer platforms and tools to digitize and integrate more of their operations. Whether for bulking up production and packaging, stitching together digital collaboration tools, managing customer data, or any number of other impacted processes, the low-code market is surging. Most businesses, however, are still using these developer platforms to build one-off projects or temporary patches rather than strategic and sustainable long-term solutions. Businesses must move from a reactionary position on low code to one that makes their companies more resilient and better equipped to innovate at speed. Here are three ways to leverage low-code to build permanent solutions.
Starting small and building incrementally encourages low-code adoption
One big issue for businesses looking to implement low-code solutions is user adoption and gaining the trust of the organization. In order to do this, starting on a smaller scale is key. So while the ultimate goal is to create a long-term, company-wide solution, businesses should initially roll out their low-code platform to a few select teams to build simple applications. Generally, these are called long-tail apps or situational apps. These well-built apps develop trust within a company by providing value, ultimately making things easier, faster, and more organized for the business. As these apps are built, and trust is earned across all the stakeholders in the organization—users building apps, IT teams providing oversight, and business users accessing apps—applications built on the platform can then grow in scope and complexity.
Take a situation in which a company wants to host an online event. Maybe this event used to be held in person; however, given COVID-19 restrictions, they need to adapt. Normally, this business would have sent out email invitations, but now they’re looking to do everything online. While this company may use a third-party communication or presentation platform to host the event sessions and briefings, the actual planning—event landing page, registration, resource allocation—can all be handled in-house through custom tools built on a low-code platform. These relatively simple processes and basic apps would be perfect starter tools for businesses looking to grow their internal development programs and increase adoption within their organizations.
Build with a plan in mind, don’t overload IT teams
Low code empowers more people in the organization to solve problems and optimize processes—democratizing, in a sense, app development. That being said, opening the floodgates to an entire organization building apps that are not always well-designed can be problematic, especially for IT teams who have to apply governance controls to manage the apps as well as ensure they adhere to compliance and privacy regulations. Organizations should adopt standards and best practices, as well as hold training, so that apps can be built safely and securely, allowing adoption rates to go up and leaving IT teams with less to manage.
From a CIO’s perspective, low-code platforms can be a gift or a curse, depending on how well the resulting applications fit into their business’ operations and whether they can lighten the load for IT teams. Part of the reason low-code platforms are so widely used for situational apps is because of this concern that a homegrown long-term solution, if not properly constructed or managed, can create longer-term problems for the company. One of these problems, from a leadership standpoint, is wasting IT teams’ time on apps that only meet their stated purpose halfway. This is why it is so critical to forge trust within the organization; to have standards for anyone building apps; to have buy-in from the people who will be relying on these solutions to do their jobs.
Consider creating in-house fusion developer teams
Fusion developer teams are made up of code-first developers, low-code or no-code developers, and IT pros focused on delivering applications. Think of them like any “pod” in an agile framework. Only in this model, they strictly work on bringing more apps online and making sure those apps are integrated as necessary. The average business user of a low-code platform is someone with deep domain knowledge about a process or problem but who lacks technical skill. A sales agent, for instance, might have great insight on how to improve the flow and accessibility of customer data but no clue on how to make that happen on the back end. On the other side, you have IT teams who possess the engineering know-how to solve complex problems but need guidance on what needs to be built or fixed and how that fits into the larger system.
Fusion teams exist to marry these two distinct groups—business users and IT—to create better business outcomes. In many cases, business users can build an app up to 80-90% completion, and the fusion team will jump in to help add more complex functionality without having to rebuild the application from scratch. It is for this reason that businesses and their software decision-makers should consider low-code platforms with pro-code extensibility.
Low-code app development platforms have become popular over the past year because businesses are still operating under the specter of the pandemic. For most, these tools can provide fast fixes or improvements to digital processes, often at a lower price point than buying existing software and with fewer implementation and integration headaches. Yet, low-code tools offer much more. By taking some of the steps mentioned in this article, businesses can create scalable, long-term solutions that don’t just solve problems but create opportunities.