The last decade saw vast improvements in application development technologies and methodologies. With the advent of Cloud Tech, storage and processing power are now available to all at a reasonable cost. Add to this the flexibility to pay as you use the infrastructure. All this has resulted in democratization of technology and processing power. Going digital is no longer exclusive or expensive!
One result of the advancement in technology is the low-code offering. It has been made possible due to the coming together of Cloud technology, micro-services based architecture, Agile methodology, encapsulations of services and components.
Low-code refers to development methodology where application development is accomplished with very little coding. With low-code, application development is performed using drag and drop features or visual modeling or scripting.
While low-code sounds promising, as an IT owner you have to take a hard look before adopting it.
Is low-code good for your organization? Let's find out.
Pros of using low-code
1. No dependency on complex coding skills
a. Low-code is a great offering for business owners who do not have technology experts or expertise. It is also a boon for IT owners who constantly struggle with hiring technology experts. To use low-code platform there is no prerequisite of programming knowledge.
2. Quicker Turnaround Times
a. It is super easy to build with low-code. Prebuilt components and services reduce time to develop and go-to-market.
b. Making changes is also easy as it is mostly driven with visual tools and drag and drop functionality.
c. Not just building but verification is also fast. There are some platforms that offer integrated DevOps allowing you to develop and deploy in quick time.
3. Increase in Productivity
a. The overall productivity of your organization increases since your experts are freed up from the mundane tasks. This lets them focus on the core of your business than worrying about technology and implementation. The focus shifts to solving problems.
b. You are allowed to try multiple times and fail fast. The effort required to build a prototype or a most viable product (MVP) is negligible as compared to traditional development approach.
4. Cost Savings
a. Time saved is money saved. Faster development of solutions means increased efficiencies and cost savings.
b. An implementation using low-code platform is usually simple and easy. There is no need for expensive experts. Your own SMEs can double up as developers and do a good job.
c. Since the development is more of composing an application you do not need army of developers. Just a few experts can run the whole show for you efficiently.
5. Promotes Innovation
a. More free time for more great ideas. Low-code helps tide over the eternal IT problems of missing timelines, lack of skilled resources and everchanging business requirements. Low-code frees up your team from the mundane and allows them free time to ideate and innovate.
b. Many individuals or business owners with no knowledge of coding skills can quickly develop applications without having to spend on coders. It is easy to build and manage with low-code so that you focus on your core business.
c. Low-code allows you to experiment and attempt solutions quickly. It allows trying out new approaches and failing fast. Cost of failure is negligible thus encouraging your team to solve problems without fear.
Cons of using low-code
1. Ownership of Source Code
a. With most low-code platforms the focus is on the outcome rather than the underlying code. This means that there is no source code for your application that you can take out and work on independently. You do not get to own the code. Most low-code platforms allow exporting data. Many platforms also have a separate business layer which can help you cull out your business rules.
b. You need to keep in mind that the low-code platforms are not 'code generators'. With 'code generators' you still need to worry about the overall logic and compilation. If owning code is important for your organization then low-code platforms may not be right-fit for you.
2. Vendor Locking
a. Any changes to solutions built using low-code platform need to be made on the same low-code platform. Since there is no source code, you are locked-in with the vendor so long as you want to continue with your application built using the low-code platform. Migrating to other platforms is not easy. You may have to build anew. But as earlier stated building a new application is easy and fast on low-code platforms.
3. Team Demotivation
a. Developers feel demotivated when they are not allowed to use programming languages they desire to code in. You need to ensure that you create a clear segregation of 'coders' and 'makers', your non-coder application builders.
4. Difficult to implement complex flows with no-coders
a. For complex implementations a certain level of design and architecture understanding is a must. While the platforms offer ability to build flows and logic, there is a possibility that lack of software development experience can leave the software build in knots. A proper planning and designing before implementation is required and recommended.
Low-code has many benefits for those who cannot code or cannot hire expensive coders. For start-ups, individual business owners, SMBs and non-technical business owners this is a boon. Some of the cons listed above can be addressed with proper planning and change management. It is prudent to let experts do the designing and letting the low-code developers (makers) do the building of your solutions.
Many low-code vendors offer to build applications using their low-code platforms. Once developed these applications are then handed over to the IT teams of respective organizations for maintenance and upgrades. Maintaining the applications is managing the configurations which even a no-coder can easily do.
The potential of low-code is immense. If rightly used it can be a great tool for meeting your IT needs in a cost-efficient manner.
Do you have applications that you are struggling to build within budget and time?
Are your challenges any different from the ones stated above?
Let us know at firstname.lastname@example.org