When to Build a Low-Code Business Application

April 6, 2020

Low-code development is emerging as a key strategy for many businesses in today’s digital environment — and its growth isn’t showing signs of slowing down. Gartner estimates that low-code solutions will make up 65% of app development by 2024.

What Exactly is Low-Code? 

Low-code platforms combine the concepts of design and development to create simplified solutions for business users. Through a visual interface, programming is distilled down into a process that requires minimal coding. The process is so simple, in fact, that the end-user can try their hand at building their very own solution. When this happens, these users are considered citizen developers.

In today’s space, there are a number of tools available to citizen developers that are relatively easy to use. Low-code applications scale from simple solutions that are easy for business users to implement, to complex solutions that require consultation with more traditional developers.

When Should I Go Low-Code?

When properly implemented, low-code solutions can eliminate manual and redundant tasks within an organization. By empowering citizen developers to identify business cases which can be improved, an infinite number of applicable scenarios can be identified.

Some example use cases might be:

  • A manager looking for a better handle on a shared mailbox could create a solution that forwards emails containing specific keywords or phrases to another team member.
  • Travel requests are currently being sent via email. A simple form and approval workflow could be created to manage and track these requests throughout the process.
  • There is a need to allow external users to see the progress on their requested work. A portal can be created to allow customers to see the status and communicate with the team working on those requests.

Benefits of Going Low-Code

The accessibility of going low-code is one of the biggest appeals for business users. For example, Microsoft now offers Power Automate and Power Apps to all users with an Office 365 license.

From an end-user perspective, the greatest benefit of low-code is time to delivery. Rather than dealing with the cumbersome process of drafting an RFP and vetting out project bids, business users can take immediate action and develop a solution custom-tailored to their needs. Going this route also generates a sense of ownership and involvement in the process.

The quick turnaround time that low-code apps offer also frees up IT teams from having to do most of the heavy lifting in building enterprise solutions. In a survey conducted by Salesforce, 75% of IT organizations stated that low-code development tools free their teams up to focus on more complex tasks that contribute to the organization’s health.

Low-code Challenges

For all its various benefits, there are still some instances in which low-code solutions may not be the right fit for your company. A few challenges of going low-code include:

  1. Development limitations. The main drawback to low-code solutions is that they can be limited in their capacity. If a connector doesn’t exist or the product doesn’t support a certain workflow you’re after, you’ll need to decide if you’re able to accept those limitations, or you will need to extend the tool using traditional development.
  2. Design limitations. Because of their simplicity and quick turnaround time, low-code solutions aren’t extremely robust in their design offerings. This can lead to complications when switching between landscape and portrait mode.
  3. Training. If your organization is not equipped to implement a training plan, low-code solutions may not be the right fit for you. Without proper training and governance in place, you become entirely dependent on the technical capabilities of staff, which runs the risk of a solution being misused and mismanaged.

Conclusion

While low-code solutions are remarkably easy for business professionals to implement on their own, they may not always be conducive to your time and effort spent. It’s important to have a mitigation strategy in place to ensure you’re on the path to successful implementation.

At Bulb Digital, our approach is simple: first, we identify the challenge, then we define the outcome we’re after, then we start building out a low-code solution. From here, it’s easy to test whether the solution we’ve developed is the right one. Taking this iterative approach helps an organization reach a decision point as quickly as possible.

Of course, through this approach, you may find that your low-code solution’s scope ended up being more than you bargained for. In those cases, utilizing an outside consultant can help citizen developers overcome hurdles, or simply take the burden off of your organization entirely.

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