Low-code platforms will become more attractive for companies this year. Our guest author explains the challenges and advantages that IT departments and development teams are confronted with.
Software development has been a particular focus of companies in recent years. Despite agile approaches in software development - such as Kanban or Scrum - development teams are faced with the challenge of implementing external customer requirements and stakeholder requirements in the development processes as efficiently and quickly as possible.
The direct benefit for the business is just as crucial as the agile implementation of the planned digital project. More and more companies are using low-code platforms to implement project requirements more quickly and to allow customer feedback to flow immediately into agile software development. According to Forrester , the spread of low-code platforms will continue to grow. The market for low-code platforms will grow to USD 15.5 billion by 2020.
What is low code?
The concept of low-code platforms is still relatively new. It was only in 2014 that Forrester Research introduced the term for this particular type of software development. Low-code platforms enable applications to be created quickly and require considerably less source code than the currently used software development methods.
The user interface, the data model and the business logic are created using visual design tools. The business logic can also be supplemented with handwritten code if required. The applications are deployed to a public or private cloud environment at the push of a button.
Low-code development platforms are characterized by the fact that only minimal up-front investments are required for setup, training and deployment. Instead of traditional licensing, they are licensed on a subscription basis (monthly subscription).
Low-code platforms therefore offer an accelerated development and deployment time for applications (such as mobile apps or ERP systems). This can significantly reduce costs for planning a software project and for creating and providing the applications.
Low code as a tool for digital transformation
Customer requirements are constantly changing due to new, digital technologies and their possibilities. For example, IoT or augmented and virtual reality have contributed to changing requirements in software development. This means that IT departments are faced with more and more requirements from customers and other stakeholders (e.g. marketing and sales).
These requirements are then tested very early on in the market together with the potential user groups in order to develop products with a clear customer focus. The waterfall principle in software development is finally replaced and agile methods, rapid prototyping and startup thinking move into the IT department, the department and ultimately also in the management of the companies.
To implement precisely these requirements at the required speed, more and more companies are using low-code platforms.
Requirements definition rethought
In many IT projects, detailed requirements are not fully worked out when the project starts. Because of this, it is very important that everyone involved works together as a team on the project. It is helpful to get a common view of the expected result as quickly as possible.
With a low-code development platform, the discussion results of a workshop can quickly be converted into a functional application.
The department can use this use case to test this intermediate status of the application in one week. This creates a closer collaboration between development and the department. The department really has the feeling of “helping to develop” the product.
This positive dynamic in IT projects ensures efficient cooperation and allows cultural and organizational barriers to be dismantled in the company.
Low-code platforms as a communication platform
To achieve efficient and agile software development, the department, IT and external service providers must work together efficiently as a team. It is important to create a good basis for communication between the different departments and people.
Regardless of whether you are a large company or a small team: good communication solutions increase productivity, speed up processes and thus save a lot of time and money in the planning, organization and implementation of software projects.
The use of low-code platforms in the context of software development creates a common basis for communication. Because low-code platforms enable the first visual prototypes to be created in the shortest possible time.
This way, technically inexperienced people can create prototypes themselves or give feedback on initial visual designs. At the same time, the setup effort for development teams is very low and it can be developed iteratively on the prototype.
As a result, the department is integrated as a full member throughout the software development.
Advantages of low code platforms
In addition to the above-mentioned experience in efficient cooperation between the department, IT and IT service provider, there are further advantages in software development.
The well-known backlog in development teams can be processed and delivered faster using low code, and this without additional developer resources. Low-code platforms support resource bottlenecks and increase the delivered software quality, since test cycles can be carried out extensively.
A higher software quality also reduces maintenance costs during operation.
Low-code platforms standardize the development procedure and reduce the complexity and the error rate of the source code. As a result, less qualified developers can take on tasks very quickly and implement them reliably.
A centralized, uniformly manageable platform reduces individual solutions and reduces the costs of shadow IT.
Low Code Platform Challenges
The introduction of a low-code platform should still be well planned. Department employees and project managers or requirement engineers must be familiarized with low-code platforms. It is recommended to conduct extensive training courses as part of the introductory phase.
It should be noted that due to the level of complexity, some low-code platforms can only be used by developers or only with a high level of training by the department. Therefore, there should be clarity and certainty as to which requirements are best implemented in the company.
When choosing the right low-code platform, the topic of vendor lock-in should also be carefully considered. Some providers have access to the entire project at all times, including the open source libraries and code used. With other providers, however, additional costs for “exporting” the source code are to be expected, or an export of the source code is not possible.
A clear cost calculation must also be drawn up for the license model. What are the costs for ongoing operations? How many users or applications are needed? Are there any other runtime or developer licenses? How is the scaling of the application ensured?
Low-code platforms as a trend of the future
In summary, low-code platforms are an important component for companies of the future in order to efficiently implement software solutions for customers and departments.
The increasing spread of low-code platforms in companies will continue in 2018 due to the ongoing digital transformation, the need for cross-departmental agile project work, and bottlenecks in development departments.
This article is written by Jack mark who is a marketer and consultant Folio3 Food Safety Software Company. He also writes for different tech media.
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