There have been advocates and critics of low-code platforms and tools for several years now. These have allowed people to build helpful software systems without the need to write and manage large customized codebases.
With ongoing developer shortages pushing companies to seek novel methods of speeding up software delivery and lowering workloads, more organizations than ever are investigating what the technology might offer them. Some predictions show that by 2025, as much as 70% of new apps could be formed using low-code tools and platforms.
Although low-code capabilities have advanced greatly in recent years, many people are still skeptical. While low-code tools get the potential to enable a new breed of ‘citizen developers’ and relieve strain on dev teams by simplifying the development of basic features, they aren’t always the best option.
Knowing what low code is better suited to support is a crucial step in deciding if it’s good for you and, finally, in gaining the value it could deliver for your business.
When to use low-level code, and when not to?
Many factors encourage businesses to switch to low-code environments. Here are 4 that are the most common, along with a discussion of how well low code fits each situation:
- Dealing with a Shortage of Developers:
Tools that allow anyone to create robust software are appealing because demand for development talent continues to outstrip supply. However, if your company lacks the necessary development and coding expertise, opting for low code could be a bad decision.
The “software without strategy” that results when business teams use low code without the supervision of skilled developers and IT experts is characterized by business lines constantly solving problems with bespoke point solutions that lack any meaningful level of cohesion or interoperability. It’s not scalable and goes against industry best practices like “platform thinking.” Business users should be able to solve pressing issues without causing large, complex problems thanks to low-code solutions, but IT leadership must set a strategy and put guardrails in place to make this possible.
- Facilitating Exciting New Business Development:
New features and services can be built rapidly for start-ups using low-code approaches, reducing the strain on development resources. It guarantees that their software won’t slow down their expansion.
Companies using low-code platforms, however, should be aware that some of their solutions may need updating in the future. If they don’t, they risk discovering that vital components of their infrastructure are based on shaky ground. It’s a problem for many low-code apps.
To maximize the benefits of low code, expanding businesses should use it to rapidly develop the capabilities they require, but be prepared to phase out those functions and replace them with more powerful alternatives as they become obsolete.
- Developing Mission-Critical New Software:
When it comes to creating and upholding mission-critical software, low-code approaches are less likely to be optimal. That’s not because low code can’t create sophisticated apps; it’s because high-stakes ones need to be flexible enough to adapt to changes in the business environment.
If an app is mission-critical to your company, even if its initial design falls within the sweet spot for low code, it will almost certainly need to be revised at some point. It could benefit from enhanced functionality, application integration, or a move to a different enterprise platform. Without the proper planning in partnership between the business and IT, these tasks become much more difficult.
- Departmental autonomy:
Adopting low-code tools is a great way of providing lines of business with more technological autonomy and inspiring your team to become citizen developers. With low code, users can jump right in, and teams can begin managing and improving capabilities in no time.
However, remember that IT should be engaged in the selection and extension of low-code tooling even if developers have access to the most intuitive tools available. It is vital to choose low-code tools that are sufficiently scalable and extensible and that can integrate into the larger IT ecosystem, as not all low-code tools are created equal.
- The relevance of balance:
When low code first appeared, its advocates framed it as a replacement for more conventional methods of development, promising to lessen or even do away with the need for trained programmers altogether.
It is harmful because it promotes false assumptions about low-code approaches and pits them against more conventional methods of software development.
It’s not a “low code vs. traditional code” question.
Instead, the question should read, “How can low-code help our highly skilled programmers?”
You can speed up delivery, decrease cycle times, and better meet business needs without abandoning current development practices if you enable and encourage low code across the right use cases.
While enabling business lines and speeding up delivery, you don’t have to give up any of the control, governance, or strategic input that your core IT and development teams have been providing. You can have the best of both worlds if you just find the right middle ground.
Here are 5 considerations for executives to make when selecting a low-code environment.
It’s essential to decide if low code is a good fit for your company and your current needs before diving in and picking a low-code platform or set of tools.
You should do your thorough assessment, but here are some inquiries to make as a starting point:
- How many people do you foresee using your finished program?
With a larger user base comes a plethora of new requirements, and the potential for your software to grow beyond the ideal scope for low code.
- To what extent do you want to develop ancillary (peripheral) software?
You should avoid using low code to create and upkeep your software the closer it is to the core because it becomes more important that it stays as versatile and interoperable as possible.
- What you’re working on now might become mission-critical if its use spreads.
A compelling case for low code is difficult to make if you realise that the systems that must be built or modernised are mission-critical to your business unless you are willing to comply with the constraints of the low-code platform.
- Is your team prepared to start working as “citizen developers”?
Your team’s eagerness to adopt low code and begin developing their capabilities is crucial to realising low code’s full value. To bring valuable capabilities to life, they will require software proficiency and the right mindset.
- What problems are you trying to solve?
There may be more effective means of accomplishing your goals than switching to low code, such as clearing a large backlog. You may be only focusing on the surface causes of ineffectiveness in your processes. You may have unique requirements that can be addressed by tailoring a low-code solution to your needs.
You still need to write code, even if it’s low-level. Relying solely on low-code platforms to transfer development responsibilities to the line of business would severely limit an organisation’s potential.
However, low code is still an effective technology for certain applications. It allows business teams to swiftly realise their own desired capabilities, decentralizes the development of edge software for small user groups, and helps close capability gaps.
By incorporating low code alongside conventional code and development methods, businesses can give developers more freedom without compromising the scalability and adaptability essential to mission-critical software. That’s where low-code shines: in situations where it’s used to meet very specific needs in line-of-business operations, after being reviewed by IT specialists and implemented in tandem with more conventional development methods.