Low-code/no-code (LCNC) development refers to the use of platforms with visual drag-and-drop or similar functionalities that allow teams to build applications with little-to-no manual coding.
These platforms can help reduce the pressure on development teams and let business users prototype and deploy apps much faster. In fact, the No-Code Census 2020 report estimates that application development is 4.6x faster, 4.6x affordable, and 4.8x easier using these platforms.
But as with any tech or process your business adopts, moving from traditional development toward low-code/no-code involves a change management process and a lot of moving parts. To help you out, here are a few tips to accelerate LCNC adoption in your business.
Appreciate the fact that LCNC is pretty much inevitable
Gartner projected the worldwide low-code development technologies market to total $13.8 billion in 2021, an increase of 22.6% from 2020. Gartner further predicts that 65% of all application development would be via the low code route by the year 2024, and around 66% of big companies would use at least four low code platforms.
Many businesses in a variety of verticals, even consulting and marketing agencies have already started experimenting with LCNC platforms for specific digital transformation use cases (more on this in the third tip). Building enterprise-grade applications with minimal IT support is becoming increasingly possible.
Besides, just consider some of the notable benefits of LCNC:
Quicker and more efficient development
Lower cost and maintenance
Faster innovation, prototyping, and time-to-market
More flexibility with APIs and integrations
Frees up time for other complex business activities
So, one of the first steps to accelerating no-code adoption is to simply have your executives acknowledge that LCNC platforms are going to become more and more mainstream (and for good reasons) in just the next couple of years.
Ensure the platform fits your requirements
LCNC development and the use of drag-and-drop tools for building internal and even external customer-facing applications isn’t something entirely new. But it has picked up pace in the last few years.
And so, now you have hundreds of LCNC platforms and vendors to choose from. With so many options available for any use case, you need to ensure that the platform you pick suits your needs and business goals. For that, consider the following:
Ability to meet short-term business objectives with out-of-the-box features
Alignment with your industry vertical or niche
Cross-browser and mobile compatibility
Access to product training, integrations, and accelerators for development
An active user community for learning and troubleshooting
The platform’s feature roadmap to support scaling
Figure out hotspots for LCNC adoption
Big things start small. Enterprise-wide adoption of LCNC platforms will happen faster when you narrow down hotspots where LCNC tools can make the biggest or quickest mark.
For example, if your accounts team wants a customized expense reporting tool, they can tailor-make one for themselves.
They might need a little help from their developer colleagues to integrate with the company’s authorization services and whatnot, but the entire ideation-to-launch process would take a fraction of time and cost thanks to LCNC tools like Airtable and Retool, as opposed to buying third-party solutions or hiring a couple of engineers to build it.
Other use cases for these powerful drag-and-drop tools include building an internal content collaboration or project tracking app.
It is crucial for the use case hotspots to be focused, but not too narrow — otherwise, they won’t provide the momentum to continue LCNC adoption. They shouldn’t be too broad either, as that could clash with your strategic vision.
Focus on building competencies internally
One of the biggest benefits of LCNC tools is how your teams can work in a DIY-style format led by citizen developers and reduce the dependencies on other teams like Dev and IT, letting them focus on other more intricate and code-intensive tasks.
Wait, what is a “citizen developer”? A citizen developer is any employee without a formal software development background who creates applications for specific use cases on their own, using LCNC tools. They are business users with little-to-no coding experience and build applications with IT-approved tools without active IT involvement.
Frequently, the starting point for having citizen developers is hiring new folk to fill the talent void and pairing them with existing tech-savvy resources so they learn new skills and turn into competent citizen developers.
This approach is fine for the short term, but the competency to continue developing on LCNC platforms will remain siloed. So, a better approach is to focus on building an internal competency center.
Again, what’s a “competency center”? Gartner defines it as “an organizational structure used to coordinate IT skills with an enterprise. Competency centers provide expertise for project or program support, acting both as repositories of knowledge and resource pools for multiple business areas.”
So, your internal competency center should comprise a lean but knowledgeable band of broad technical and LCNC experts working together with citizen developers to:
Standardize the application development processes and best practices.
Create reusable code snippets and accelerators for citizen developers to build upon.
Maintain an internal tech knowledge base.
Help evangelize LCNC platforms and drive the change.
Reemphasize the importance of IT
Your tech-savvy IT team sits at the center of all your LCNC platforms’ adoption, even if they aren’t the ones using the LCNC tools as much.
Why? Because IT is the only team capable of governing and affirming that your enterprise technology, design, and security standards are followed. IT personnel can also help make sure that the adoption is in line with your strategic business goals, and that the LCNC competency centers remain effective.
Long story short, your IT team is the backbone and sits at the driving seat for the adoption of LCNC platforms across all use cases.
While enterprise-wide LCNC adoption is tricky, the good news is that there’s something for everyone: business users (aka citizen developers) can quickly build and deploy nifty apps using drag-and-drop tools, while tech-savvy experts can add their code to further extend the functionalities of the apps.
Low code helps in rapid prototyping, enabling developers to work smarter and deploy critical projects faster. And because LCNC platforms are cloud-based, working collaboratively is easier and development doesn’t require additional IT infrastructure.
And so, low-code/no-code development is here to stay, and an area definitely worth investing in while most of your competitors are still hand-coding.