Years ago, when low-code/no-code was in its infancy, we had a client who turned our platform over to the business units to build their own workflows — and build they did. In the first 12 months, they built a staggering 1,200 workflows, which is a rate the IT department never could have matched. All those automated processes saved the business units a tremendous amount of time, and the initiative was hailed a success. That is, until something went wrong and the business unit asked IT to fix it, only to be told that what it built in the system was up to them to fix.
It wasn’t long before both IT departments and business units soured on the nascent citizen-developer craze.
Fast forward to today, and a recent survey shows 92% of IT leaders are comfortable with their workers using low-code tools.
To begin with, IT departments — always in high demand — are struggling to keep up with workloads that have escalated because of Covid-19. (That same survey found that 88% of IT leaders say workloads have increased in the past year.)
Secondly, IT leaders have brought in partners and additional resources to help business units keep their solutions running.
Meanwhile, business units have learned how to use low-code/no-code tools more effectively, and they’ve recognized they have to take ownership of processes they build.
Additionally, the technologies have gotten more user-friendly and have drastically matured. The upshot is that low-code/no-code is an important tool in making jobs easier for people, especially when budgets and personnel resources are tight. Here are just a few of the benefits of low-code/no-code development.
Makes businesses self-sufficient and autonomous
Business users are empowered when they have complete control over configuring their own solutions and can react very quickly to needs that emerge.
Let’s face it, IT departments have competing priorities. Someone has to choose which projects make it into the IT pipeline. Business leaders must fight to get their projects in that queue.
When IT does get involved, it gravitates toward custom code. The challenge is that the business has to go back to IT every time it wants to make a small change. Then, there are times when the business needs a solution quickly and doesn’t have time to go through the time-consuming process.
For example, at the beginning of the pandemic, we worked with a company that needed to quickly find a way to monitor each employee’s health before they were allowed on the job site every day. Instead of stationing someone outside the gate taking temperatures, the business unit built an app that allowed employees to scan a QR code, fill out a form and submit it before they even got to the site. Identifying the need to delivering the app took just 24 hours. If the project had gone through IT, it could easily have taken weeks.
Fosters innovation and creativity
As previously mentioned, folks have to fight to get their projects in the IT queue, which can involve a lot of red tape that can squash any type of creativity the group was going to have in building out its solution.
But if you’ve got a tool that you can use to build and design projects on your own, it fosters innovation. As a user, this is what gets me excited about the technology.
Businesses can drive the user experience
I’ve been involved in many projects where the business has communicated what it thinks are its requirements to IT, and IT goes off and builds something — but it misses the mark. Functionally, it may meet the requirements, but it might not be a good end-user experience.
Typically, the business thinks it’s communicated the requirements, but there are tremendous amounts of minute technical details that matter, and the business often doesn’t communicate all those. So the first attempt often lacks some of the nuances and the two departments go back and forth trying to get it right. It’s a time-consuming, expensive process — and still may not yield the best result.
But the business understands those little details as well as the big picture and the objective. So, it can design an interface that meets all its needs. And it can fix issues as it goes rather than having to go back and forth with IT.
Reduces shadow IT
Typically, shadow IT comes about when a project doesn’t make it into the queue, or a department just doesn’t want to go through the red tape. So it acquires whatever software it needs and uses it in secret. Obviously, this has serious security ramifications.
But if departments can build their own solutions on one platform, with the blessing and aid of IT, there’s no need to go the shadow IT route. This is undoubtedly another reason that many IT leaders are embracing low-code/no-code solutions.
This is configuration, which is far less expensive than customization. So, your total cost or investment in an automation or process is significantly cheaper if you’re able to build it on your own. And because business units can tweak the process themselves and revise it as their needs change, the savings are exponential.