The booming low-code market, which is expected to reach $187 billion by 2030, promises a world where business and IT professionals can work together seamlessly. Low-code and no-code tools help professional developers speed up and simplify their work while allowing non-technical business users to create applications. However, business leaders must be aware that adoption has both benefits and drawbacks. The increasingly necessary shift to low-code can drive innovation, boost productivity, and identify the talent shortage, but bad approaches can have drawbacks ranging from stifling workflow to locking code away in a black box, implying that decision-makers must properly prepare to meet the needs of no-code digital businesses.
The escalating need for no-code development
As the economy ramps up, companies are struggling with a growing developer shortage, and there is a need for less-skilled developers to move into the application and IT development. According to one estimate, there was a shortage of 1.4 million software developers by 2021, compared to only 400,000 graduates the previous year. Because it’s challenging to find highly skilled developers, businesses turn to other sources to fill the gap. They’re increasingly using low-code and no-code tools to make application development easier, implement new solutions quicker, and boost developer productivity.
No-code and low-code tools enable business users to use integration templates and assemble code blocks. On the other hand, skilled developers can leverage low-code and pro-code tools to concentrate on the more challenging parts of the solution. Low-code and no-code can help software developers focus on computing environments that are conducive to innovation, such as microservices, big data, IoT, and DevOps, by freeing up some of the more regular or repeatable tasks, such as GUI development or standard integrations, when done correctly.
The common pitfalls of no-code/low-code development
As no-code becomes more mainstream, app development teams and managers should be aware of some critical concerns. Because of the nature of the abstractions used, traditional no-code approaches have intrinsic disadvantages and sometimes don’t blend seamlessly with professional coders and their more sophisticated tools. But if done correctly, even the most rigorous professional development tools can benefit from the visual simplifications that no-code can provide.
Here are the common pitfalls of no-code development and tips to get over those pitfalls
When arguing against no-code platforms, CEOs and CIOs frequently mention “shadow IT.” They argue that no-code platforms enable citizen developers or at least provide them with the opportunity to do so without IT intervention. There is a risk associated with this. What are the dangers?
Citizen developers may end up creating half-baked applications without the IT team’s knowledge, and ineffective applications may float across departments, obstructing the organization’s innovation goals. In other words, no-code platforms have the potential to create a “secret society of application development” among business users.
A well-established IT governance model can provide accountability while making no-code development a collaborative effort.
Business users have the freedom to use no-code platforms under citizen
development, but their roles, responsibilities, and permissions must be defined to prevent the creation of shadow IT. This can be accomplished using a governance model that establishes the scope of work at various levels.
Your IT governance model can take a top-down approach, with a single authority overseeing your entire citizen development programme, including multiple projects and initiatives. Your CTO can lead this office, which can be housed within your IT department.
Today’s no-code platforms are more user-friendly than their predecessors but also more technologically advanced. They do make application development much easier for business users. However, still, the learning curve for non-programmers is significantly steep. If the right people are not identified and trained for the job, then no-code adoption across the organization might become challenging.
Choose the right candidates as citizen developers. They are business individuals who are or were involved in tedious manual processes. A suitable candidate for citizen development is someone who has first-hand experience in dealing with paper-based processes and understands the related pain points.
Although no coding background is required to use no-code platforms, users need to have sound business logic to build applications visually. Hence a little knowledge of the basics can come in handy for any citizen developer. These individuals need not code, but they need to understand the entire software development life cycle and prototyping, wireframing, and design thinking. They should understand how programming logic works and correlate that with their business logic. For example, they need to know how entity relationships or class diagrams work and how data comes together.
A suitable candidate should also have a collaborative and willing mindset because citizen development is not a “one-man show” and is carried out through a governance model. Citizen developers are not independent contributors but much more than that.
As citizen developers are essentially business users, no-code development is not their primary task, and they are required to juggle multiple roles. Therefore, time management is another quality of a productive citizen developer.
Low/no-code environments often promise that you don’t have to write code, but this is often not the case in real life when it comes to low-code. Most of the configurations related to standard business logic are simple enough to be tackled by citizen developers but often some scenarios require significant customization, and without experts, in place, things may go out of hand sooner than later. This may also hamper the scalability of the application.
IT and business leaders can establish a citizen development management team that collaborates with key stakeholders from both IT and business units. This partnership must be one in which both sets of stakeholders work together and have several common and exclusive roles and responsibilities. For example, IT experts can exclusively handle requirements for extensive customization. This kind of arrangement can bring the best of both worlds – no-code and traditional development.
Going beyond the hype
CIOs and tech leaders need a strategic plan that cuts through the hype to reach the low-code market opportunities. Companies must determine the best tool or combination of tools to successfully implement their broader low-code vision, considering the entire IT environment. Putting time and resources into a culture of transparency, flexibility, and training can ensure development teams and business users the software and expertise required to make a real difference with these tools. Building this culture can lead to collaboration and understanding between business and IT, ensuring that their integrations, services, and APIs work in unison — regardless of whether they prefer low-code, no-code, or more advanced source code programming.