The democratization of technology is completely reshaping business methods and the outcomes they seek to achieve. Helping organizations take advantage of this revolutionary shift in technology and business operations is low-code development. Low-code/no-code solutions, when leveraged properly, put users in positions to create applications that solve their immediate problems. By employing low-code capabilities that enable non-developers to connect various stakeholders and implement sophisticated functionality, users and teams create greater efficiency while business goals are achieved more accurately. Essentially, those closest to the problems can now have the greatest impact at solving those problems.
Low-Code Development: Enabling the Citizen Developer
When business process management was first delivered as a solution in the later part of the 20th century, it was seen as a revolution. Mostly driven through elements of workflow, BPM came to symbolize efficiency at mass scale at a time when technology was rapidly becoming widely adopted. As business users came to rely on BPM to achieve their business-related tasks, more demand was created on the IT teams that had to build complex applications. The IT queue began to lengthen and process-related applications weren’t being built to solve the problems needed to maintain an agile, growth-oriented culture.
So into the fray comes the notion that empowering employees to create their own applications would reduce the onus on IT, AND deliver applications faster. To deliver this, a highly visual dashboard of drag-and-drop workflow tools and software components were created so that “citizen developers” could create an application without having to use code. The combination of rapid development capabilities along with the low-code approach offers enterprises the ability build, deploy, and iterate quickly. Additionally, it provides ways to identify deep insights into usage and performance of applications.
Low-Code and Rapid Application Development
By integrating workflows and application functionality, comprehensive low-code platforms offer a solution that can move business objectives rapidly from conception to implementation. And by using an agile model for creating functionality as well as enabling users at different levels to contribute critical modifications to workflows and processes, organizations are able to respond more quickly to customer demand because they can build and modify customer-focused solutions based on the deep insights and predictive capabilities. With low-code (or no-code) solutions such as these, teams can deliver their own rich digital applications, on any platform, before competitors have laid down the first thousand lines of code.
Organizations that want to enable their teams with an agile low code development software solution should consider how this will change their current relationship with IT, and what demands it might place on their own team members. They should also, however, look closely at what is required to fully implement using low-code development and how it can best be applied. The following help to illustrate the realities of using low code development within a BPM environment:
Efficiency Means Different Things for Different People
The low-code option makes it easy to build applications fast, and speed has real economic value. But applications built from low-code environments are typically meant to address narrow issues and may not be optimized for efficiency. Business leaders need to understand that full-fledged, comprehensive applications typically still must adhere to the rigors of the full application development lifecycle.
Low-Code Development is Still Development
Anyone can drag-and-drop, but for it to generate anything meaningful, one must understand not only WHAT she is dragging and dropping, but how to use all that dragging and dropping to achieve a desired outcome. Those using a low-code platform need to understand the business context for what they’re building, and they need to also recognize how the “chunks” of applications work and fit together.
This requires that you create a culture that encourages employees to learn the basics of how applications are structured, where they fit within the internal technology stack, and how to build them around specific goals. It is also important to instill in process actors that application development takes more than just clicking; even though it can be done rapidly, it needs attention and oversight.
All Low-code Development needs Project Management
Many vendors position low-code development as a way for anyone to go into a room by themselves and come out hours later with a usable application. It’s just not that simple. While low-code gives many people the ability to contribute, they must still adhere to some level of requirements and apply discipline to keep application projects within scope.
In addition to building the applications, these citizen developers must also build tests, identify issues, scale easily, and ensure that they can deliver a highly secure application.
Applications built through low-code are typically optimized for a speedy deployment. While not the same approach as DevOps, which prizes continuous iteration, low-code applications still are not necessarily built with a comprehensive set of security rules built into them. These applications, and the data they transact, will need to rely on third-party tools that the IT department must procure and deploy. This doesn’t slow down anything, but it is something that applications developers must be serious about because all applications must use some level of security monitoring and remediation capabilities with them.
Executing sophisticated business logic and using complex rules typically requires a standard application development approach. But getting solutions addressed rapidly and specifically can help organizations solve problems quickly after they are identified. Ultimately, using a low-code approach can save millions on expensive technical staff, incompatible packaged applications, and maintenance of obsolete code.