By Yad Jaura, Product Marketing Manager at Netcall
To keep up with growing customer expectations in a digital age, organisations are needing to rapidly adapt their internal processes – but at the same time, they’re suffering with a digital skills gap and a shortage of developers, proving quite the conundrum. Enter low-code.
Low-code platforms enable teams of developers – and even non-coders – to deliver, support and extend a wide variety of applications, and we’ve been singing their praises for a while now. You’ve probably already heard the major benefits, so we don’t need to mention the improved agility, higher productivity, better customer experience, collaboration and decreased development costs that it fosters, do we?
But with more and more low-code development platforms coming to market, it’s important to know how to cut through the noise and find the right one for your organisation. That’s why below I’ve outlined ten tips below for evaluating low-code platforms and ensuring you make the right choice for digital success.
1. Assess ease-of-use
First, consider who you want to use the platform to build applications. If you are expecting only seasoned developers to build apps, you need to look at platforms suited for application design and development pros only. Bear in mind that there’s a huge shortage of developers – a recent survey found that 64% of companies were looking to hire up to 50 developers this year – so make sure that you have a big enough team. If you want to widen the pool of people who can build, it’s critical to look for platforms that are easy to learn and use, so that others can be trained to build as well. Widening the pool also means that people with first-hand knowledge of the processes are on the team, so the app you’ll build will most likely be ‘right first time’.
Low-code platforms enable professional developers to go faster and become full-stack developers, while ‘citizen developers’ (everyday business users) can easily learn to build apps using their knowledge of the process and simple drag-and-drop techniques. They don’t have to write code. Put simply, together, business and IT can collaborate to address organisational needs to rapidly innovate.
2. Evaluate suitability for use cases
Think about the types of apps you are expecting to build on the platform – are you looking for web or mobile apps, for example? Evaluate platform suitability and richness to ensure that it addresses the relevant use cases that are most urgently needed. What are the limits of the platform, and can you extend its capabilities when necessary?
3. Review the vendor profile
It’s important to investigate how long the vendor has been around, suss out their reputation and check that they are financially stable and profitable. You can also look into how many customers they have helped using the platform, and how those customers rate the vendor on sites like Capterra, Gartner Peer Insights and G2Crowd for example.
4. Consider speed and cost of building and deploying apps
Think about how fast apps can be developed in comparison with traditional development methods. And when we talk about speed, of course, time is money, so you also need to consider the cost of building and deploying new apps. Are there any other associated costs? It’s vital to look thoroughly at how the platform is priced and also calculate costs for years two and three.
5. Find out how the platform is being deployed
Don’t forget to clarify whether the platform is available in the cloud and/or on-premise, and check whether any other software needs to be deployed in order to build and run apps created on the platform. Does the platform scale to large numbers of users and large amounts of data?
6. Discuss integration options
It’s a struggle to build new applications in functional silos; they need to integrate with and build upon the investments that you’ve already made in systems. You must check how easily your low-code platform will be able to integrate with your existing tech. Ask the vendors what integration methods are supported and ensure that you can easily upload and download data to it. It’s also worth finding out how it interacts with related technologies such as RPA and AI as, if you’re not using these yet, you almost certainly will want to in the near future.
7. Don’t forget security and governance
Of course, you will want to find out what security, management and governance controls are provided. Make sure you ask about what controls you will have and how are those controls assigned. Plus, who controls the platform and how can responsibilities be divided.
8. Make sure to check data security and privacy controls
It’s an obvious one, but check what data security and privacy controls are included. Confidentiality, integrity and availability of data are of the utmost importance – don’t forget to check how the platform adheres to GDPR and other privacy requirements.
9. Ask about development support and resources
Find out what development support and resources are available to support you as you use the platform. This includes training, support, and resources. Also, assess how easy it is to work with the vendor. Ask whether they can provide additional developer resources from the vendor or a partner, if and when you need it.
10. Look further ahead to end-to-end development lifecycle support
Not all platforms support the end-to-end development application lifecycle. Make sure you look into what capabilities the platform has that support the design, build, testing, deployment and ongoing maintenance of an app so that you get real value for money. Also, it’s a good idea to check whether apps and components can be reused as a time-saver for future builds.
Low-code platforms are a great way to empower the people within your organisation who know it best – your employees. But for guaranteed success, early and detailed exploration is necessary. With the right tool, you’ll be well on your way to unlocking rapid transformation and competing in a digital age.