No-code or low-code – what’s the difference and what’s right for you?
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What’s the problem with code anyway?
There’s no problem with code per se – as long as you have the patience, resources and capabilities in place to support sophisticated software development. Sophisticated, because that’s what it has become. Coding is here to stay, but it’s a resource-heavy rollercoaster ride at the best of times and it’s good to know there are alternative or complementary approaches out there for organisations of all shapes and sizes.
It’s clear then, that managing code is complicated and despite frameworks and automations, it requires highly skilled people to keep it moving. But what’s the alternative?
Enter no-code / low-code
Despite the current hype around no-code / low-code, the concept has existed for decades. Microsoft Access and Excel launched many an IT career in the 90s and early 2000s by delivering applications that enabled tech-savvy business users to have a go at solving their own problems. Granted, over time, this often resulted in new problems, with critical applications suddenly living beyond the watchful eye of the IT department. IT then needed to step in to inject governance and security for solutions that accidentally became business-critical. The concept of ‘citizen development’ was born, along with a level of complexity and risk that is often misunderstood. But that’s a topic for another day.
No-code and low-code adoption has ramped up with the increased appetite for rapid, agile digital transformation and the challenge of the ever-widening IT talent gap. At the same time, a tsunami of no-code and low-code platforms has entered the market over the past five years, targeting different types of problems and servicing different needs. Add in the effects of the pandemic and digital transformation has kicked into overdrive, propelling no-code / low-code into the limelight.
No-code and low-code are largely about speed and reusability, with the (occasional) added promise of citizen development.
The pros of no-code and low-code
1. Human readable
It’s human-readable. There’s a lot to be said about having your critical business processes and rules implemented in a way that a non-developer can read. It gives confidence in the as-built solution and promotes continuous innovation.
2. Faster to build
It’s faster. Much faster. Fully-functional apps or proof of concepts can be built in hours or days, rather than weeks. Generally, the closer to no-code the platform is, the faster it gets.
3. More accessible skills
It flattens the skill curve. Building blocks with fixed design patterns mean you’re not as reliant on in-demand skilled developers, with the work typically shifting towards Business Analysts and tech-savvy power users.
4. Quick deployment
Most platforms have a quick path to deployment, making launches easier and reducing stress for the development team. Continuous integration and continuous delivery (CI/CD) can be a challenge for some platforms, though, and beware – no code doesn’t mean no governance.
The cons of no-code and low-code
1. Rogue IT
Rogue IT issues can occur (projects that are managed outside of, and without the knowledge of, the IT department) if the proper processes aren’t set up to manage change. Low-code application platforms offer immense customisation options, as users can code and change elements as desired, but the right governance processes need to be put in place.
Most platforms offer the ability to import/export configuration, but there are often limitations, which may or may not be considered a problem. These risks can be negated by choosing the right platform for the right reasons and using it to solve the right problems, not all problems (just because it can).
3. Learning the platform
If you plan to get hands-on, be aware that even no-code platforms require some learning/onboarding. Low-code means you will code, so understanding what the real skill requirements are and how readily available they are within your business and the broader employment market is crucial.
4. Complex license fees
Simplified development doesn’t always mean simple pricing. Some of the ‘old guard’ platforms have exorbitant and/or complex license fees making it very difficult to predict scaling costs. Some platforms are difficult to learn, so you end up relying on ongoing professional services, which can negate the benefits.
Be sure to explore the modern challenges, particularly in the enterprise space, which have architected solutions from the ground up to satisfy modern requirements and have also considered the needs of those that pay the bills too.
At Digital Experience Labs, we live and breathe no-code / low code and have years of experience across various platforms and technologies. As specialists in process automation and digital transformation, we’ve helped organisations throughout Australia and New Zealand redefine their digital transformation.
Get in contact today to book a free Digital Maturity Assessment and see how we can help you transform and simplify your business.
Digital Experience Labs
No matter your size, we can help modernise your operations to a digital business model with our in-depth domain expertise – enhancing customer experience, optimising business processes, lowering cost to serve and increasing business agility.
We are industry agnostic, but with acute strengths in select industries.
Some of our clients
Our success is in our client’s success. We work with bold companies who have ambitious goals. We promise to push the boundaries of traditional ways of working and succeed together.
If you have a question, wish to leave a comment, or would like further information about how Digital Experience Labs can support your digital transformation journey.
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