As with every new industry technology, the success of its implementation depends on the understanding of its use. When low-code became popular in 2014, more and more IT experts quickly realised the value it can mean to businesses, allowing them to develop solutions fast and with visual graphic modeling instead of hand-written code. Low-code development platforms (LCDP) were able to create very sophisticated low-code ecosystems in just a few years, making it possible for big companies to create enterprise-scale solutions, and since then, the former new niche technology has made its way into the mainstream of IT.
On the marketing side of things, the communication of the low-code USPs has been brilliant. The breakdown of its benefits such as speed, higher productivity, less bug fixing, and lower IT costs were easy to remember and repeat. And they have been. Unfortunately, the communication has now led to the widespread misjudgment that there was nothing easier to do than delivering projects with low-code. Well, as exciting as this new piece of technology is, we must not forget that we are still talking about software and IT architecture in the context of enterprises with all its internal politics, KPIs, OKRs, budgets, processes, rules, codes, and so on.
Therefore we wanted to provide a guideline on how to boost your business with low-code rowing around all the rapids that usually appear.
Read through the different steps a business should consider when investing in this technology. If you are completely new to low-code you might want to read our FAQ first.
1. Make sure you understand the platform
Today, there are more than 100 vendors of low-code development platforms available on the market. Every platform has its own specifications and use-cases. LCDPs consist of many different layers. For example one includes graphic modeling features, one is responsible for integrations with other services e.g. billing systems, one is the database layer, and one layer is dealing with the deployment of IT solutions, such as the cloud, local infrastructure, the servers, etc. The setup of an LCDP and its features define how your business can make use of the platform. Most LCDPs offer free trials, it is therefore recommended to research and test each platform that might be of interest to your business before you agree to a subscription. Does the vendor offer all the features and options that your business needs and if yes, how would they be provided? After a buying decision has been made, businesses need to spend time to learn all aspects and processes of the platform and should also consider spending money on specific training provided by official partners of those LCDPs.
2. Evaluate the complexity of your projects
Preparation is everything and processes that worked within IT before low-code do also make sense when using low-code. Make a list of all the low-code projects you would like to implement within 12 months.
Speak to your core developer team and evaluate the projects regarding their complexity, their estimated development time, potential technical hurdles, bottlenecks, and budgets. Plan additional features for certain projects in advance. Define priorities and the stakeholders involved. Inform your developers about the bigger picture so that they know what everyone is contributing to the success of the project. Keep in mind that the amount of licenses for an LCDP is usually limited to a certain number of developers.
3. Employ developers specialised in low code or hire external experts
You spent time on understanding the platform and also money for training your developers but still, the delivery of projects takes too long or projects get stuck? Think about hiring specialised low-code developers or external experts such as official partners of the LCDP. Even if hired based on only a single project, low-code experts will help create real value for your company. Did you know that some of these experts have been working with low-code for more than 20 years? They bring a deep understanding of the development of IT solutions and have already successfully launched many low-code projects in the past. Experienced low-code experts will focus on the success of your projects and your team will benefit from their knowledge in many ways.
4. Be transparent and manage expectations among stakeholders
The biggest threat to the further expansion of low-code technology is the hype that has been created around it. With all the benefits that low-code development adds to your business, there will also be high expectations from all stakeholders involved in the projects. Yes, it is a faster and more efficient way to develop IT solutions. But traditional IT teams working in companies with many technical debts and old legacy systems first need to clear one or two stones out of the way before they can effectively use it. As with any other IT project, communication, therefore, needs to be clear and transparent in terms of priorities, obstacles, delays, milestones, achievements, and the speed of delivery. Especially if your team is yet inexperienced with low-code development.
5. Start with low-hanging fruits
While you have researched and tested the right LCDP for your business until the point where you finally made a purchase and afterward trained your team, your IT project list will mostly have gotten longer and longer. Now that you are all set and ready to go straight to priority 1A on that project list in order to implement it – wait a moment. At this point, it would be more advisable to go through the list of projects again and identify which one is made best for this new technology. It doesn’t even have to be on your project list, maybe it was only discussed in a team chat or email. Ideally, it should be something that only requires a few approvals and briefings and would not consume much of the overall budget. Use these non-political or non-delicate tasks to make your team familiar with the platform in a real business scenario and create confidence through quick wins. In football, you would also not test your new strategy in a match against Spain and France first, right? You would let your team play first against Hungary or Ukraine in order to motivate your players and make your spectators happy.
6. Fail fast & learn fast
Adapting to a new reality means taking risks. Risks can lead to failures, but without risks and failures, there is no evolution. They belong to life the same way in which they belong to the business. An organisation that is afraid to make mistakes will not improve. The faster this is accepted, the faster individuals and businesses can learn. With regards to low-code, this means: developing technology with low-code can be a huge challenge for your organisation. But you will quickly find out what works and what you need to do differently. LCDPs allow customisation of code where it is necessary so that your project does not get stuck. But additional development work may delay your project plan, therefore the real need for each customisation needs to be carefully checked.
Now that the platform and its features are thoroughly understood and there were even some test cases successfully implemented, your organisation can go up that priority list and implement the next big projects.
As mentioned under 3.) there are many experienced official LCDP partners that can be consulted in case your organisation does not know how to get started with low-code or is being stuck in a project. Trusted partners like OutSprint are always happy to share their insights and knowledge with your organisation and offer full solution lifecycle management assistance for all your projects.
Published by by Denis Fortmann
March 2, 2021