The traditional process of developing applications for business process automation is often a lengthy one.
It can take several months – if not years – to create a software solution from the ground up. The planning, designing, development, testing, and deployment steps to completion are delicate and have little room for error. Low-code/no-code platforms are addressing several parts of this complicated process, allowing companies to accelerate their digital transformation.
Business applications are like intricate castles, with hand-coding being the individual cards used to construct them. Only a highly skilled person would be able to create an entire structure out of cards without the entire thing collapsing, and of course, such an intricate process takes a considerable amount of time. Constant innovations are required for businesses to stay competitive, so this timeline can overwhelm busy IT departments.
Low-code/no-code for businesses
Low-code and no-code platforms are like the legos of application development, using small components to construct much larger structures easily. The components are intuitive, changes can be made without compromising the rest of the solution being created, and projects of magnificent scale can be made quickly and easily.
If you had to build a castle from scratch, which would you rather use: legos or cards?
Many businesses have decided upon using the former, and are implementing low-code/no-code platforms to handle their app development needs. Low-code and no-code platforms ditch the time and resource-consuming process of traditional application development to deliver business applications of any complexity. With a straightforward visual interface, these platforms simplify the process of developing software solutions, making them an increasingly popular choice for businesses who require fast innovations to stay competitive.
In this article, we will outline the development process using low-code and no-code platforms versus traditional methods, highlight their differences, and present the advantages of low-code and no-code.
Traditional app development
Traditional app development has a multitude of complex and time-consuming specific steps that typically require multiple professional individuals to complete the various stages. It is difficult to fully describe the traditional app development process in a few words, but the main phases can be summarized as the following:
Discussing and documenting the project requirements, planning out the timeline and budget for the application’s development.
Previously-defined project requirements are turned into technical specifications of the app. Specialists determine hardware requirements for the app and select frontend and backend frameworks. The architecture of the overall system is modeled and wireframe of the software is designed.
The lengthy process of manual coding begins.
Multiple prototypes of the platform and/or its various components must be created and tested. Testing is usually long and tedious task, as tests repeatedly fail and need to be carried out again after errors are corrected.
After rigorous testing, the application is finally deployed. Maintenance, patching, enhancements and fixing of bugs take place from here on out.
Patching, making enhancements, updating, managing backups, scaling, fixing bugs, and other technical operations take place from here on out. Despite how complicated the development process looks, IT teams spend the majority of their time maintaining existing applications within a business.
Traditional app development takes more time and effort to complete. Project requirements must be thoroughly laid out and discussed as this process is not flexible, and core components of the design are difficult to change during later stages.
A large team of specialists is needed to complete the entire process in a timely manner. Components of the app are not always reusable, which increases the project’s life cycle time. Input from the end-users of the application is minimal, which can lead to a less than ideal UI, more testing after requests from users, and more patching/fixing in the maintenance stage.
Low-code/no-code app development
In comparison, development using low-code and no-code platforms is far more flexible and takes considerably less time. The platforms can still be used to develop complex software applications by IT departments, yet they require fewer resources in order to do so. Drag and drop features allow citizen developers to design their solution intuitively.
Useful tools and the auto-compiling and generation of code makes app development, testing, and deployment both faster and easier when using low-code/no-code platforms. The user-friendly UI and components make app development possible without large teams and make errors more easily fixed. Maintenance such as updates can be done within just a few clicks.
A huge advantage of low-code/no-code application development lies in the fact that many of the tedious tasks throughout the process become automated. This saves an extensive amount of money for companies, as their developers can create large, complex applications much faster. It also saves IT departments much-needed time, as fewer people are needed to create a single app throughout each stage, giving them more opportunity for creation within limited timeframes.
Additionally, this means that practically anyone can develop their own solutions using the platforms, as little to no professional coding skills are required to create an app. For businesses, this means that their marketing managers, sales reps, HR managers, and any employee can develop their own applications quickly and easily, relieving busy IT departments of additional development responsibilities and promoting faster app development throughout the company. Essentially, this allows the end user of the application to become the creator.
The concept of anyone within a company – regardless of formal app development skills – being able to create their own solutions is the entire purpose of low-code and no-code platforms. The non-professionals who use low-code/no-code platforms to develop applications are referred to as citizen developers.
Creating and enabling citizen developers within a company allows for the development of business software solutions at an unprecedented pace. Considering the fast pace of modern business, extensive app development for the automation and optimization of workflows and business processes via citizen developers is very advantageous.
Why low-code/no-code is becoming a hot topic in business
There are several notable advantages of low-code/no-code application development for businesses in comparison to traditional methods. The main advantages that low-code and no-code platforms provide businesses can be described with a few key words: simplicity, speed, and agility.
As stated before, low-code/no-code app development is a simpler and shorter process compared to traditional methods in almost every way. Understanding how to build apps using a low-code/no-code platform is easier thanks to drag and drop features, each stage of development is simpler, and fewer resources are required. Its simplicity is what allows any employee within a company to begin creating their own solutions as well as reducing or often eliminating the amount of skilled personnel required throughout development.
Despite their simplification of the development process, the apps created on low-code/no-code platforms can be as complex as required for the project, and can be customized according to the user and business’s needs.
These platforms also make the app development process much faster. Thanks to their simplicity, low-code and no-code application development eliminates several lengthy steps within each phase of development. Since the platform automatically generates and deploys the code needed for the solution, the risk of error when coding an application is greatly reduced, which can take a considerable amount of time to address via traditional methods.
Low-code and no-code application development is also agile. Traditional app development is very inflexible. Changes are difficult to make after the planning stage, and if there are a drastic amount of changes to be made, the project essentially goes back to the planning stage and must be started over again.
Low-code and no-code platforms, like legos, allow for construction of large structures using small components. These components can be taken apart and recycled if any changes are required throughout the development process, allowing for flexible app development.
Low-code and no-code technology have become a hot topic in the business world, and for good reason. Simple and user-friendly interfaces with drag-and-drop features allow for anyone to develop business apps without the need for extensive manual coding. With the possibility of any employee in a company to start developing, more processes within a business can be automated at a faster rate and to a wider extent, leading to reduced operations costs and overall system improvement.
Both experienced developers and citizen developers alike stand to benefit from the speedy and reliable low-code/no-code development process. The flexibility of low-code and no-code technology allows for a plethora of application development ranging from the creation of simple dashboards to complex, industry-specific solutions.
Results from the implementation of a low-code or no-code platform can be realized in a matter of days and weeks, not months and years, making them a more competitive solution in the fast-paced business world compared to the time and IT resource-consuming traditional app development process.
Considering all of these factors and benefits to low-code and no-code, we can expect that low-code/no-code app development will become more prevalent in business processes. The usage of low-code and no-code technology is already rapidly increasing as they prove to be useful solutions to several business pains, and their customizable capabilities mean that even more obstacles will be addressed by these platforms as users develop them.
Their adaptability, agility, and ability to automate business processes makes low-code and no-code technology an indispensable ally for businesses hoping to thrive in the digital era.
For a quick visual breakdown of the differences between low- and no-code development, download our free infographic!
Katherine Kostereva is CEO and Managing Partner of Creatio, a leading low-code, process automation and CRM company. Katherine has bootstrapped Creatio and grown it to a global software company with offices around the world, a team of 600 engaged professionals, and thousands of customers worldwide.