Low-code platforms offer enormous potential, but the solutions sometimes differ significantly. This is what you should pay attention to when choosing. […]
From a business perspective, it often makes sense to rely on microservices, customized applications, proprietary databases or enterprise workflows. But there are also circumstances in which business and technology teams should consider low-code and no–code platforms. For example, in order to:
- Accelerate development processes,
- provide technical best practices “out of the box”, or
- Simplify DevOps processes.
Low-code platforms can be classified into different categories. Some focus on being able to develop web, mobile interfaces and workflows as quickly as possible, others focus on data visualization, data integration or data preparation. In addition, modern low-code platforms also support machine learning, IoT and IT automation. In order to find the right low-code platform for your company, you should take the following seven selection criteria to heart.
Low-code and no-code solutions have gained popularity over the past few years. Especially in 2020, when many companies had to create or adapt their applications as quickly as possible due to the pandemic and its consequences.
Ideally, low-code platforms will help your company accelerate application development and implement extensions. However, this must be evaluated in advance with regard to the type of applications, the data requirements, workflow functions and other factors.
That’s why it’s important to keep an eye on the various needs of app developers and use cases when looking at low-code platforms. But the most important thing is to get a feel for the strengths and weaknesses as well as the scope of a low-code solution. Relying on low-code because it works well for a single use case is risky, as there is no guarantee that the approach will also be optimal for future requirements.
Some platforms adorn themselves with the label Low-code, which implies that at least rudimentary programming skills may be required to develop applications. Other platforms are marketed under the name No Code and offer visual tools to create user interfaces, workflows and integrations.
However, it is much more important to determine who should actually design, develop and maintain the applications. Some low-code platforms are designed more for software developers, others for citizen developers – for example, business analysts or subject matter experts. Some solutions also address both target groups and offer different tools and possibilities for each of them.
Depending on which of the two groups is to be addressed in your case, you would do well to integrate them into the selection process as early as possible. The people who work with the low-code or no–code platform later should be interested in it and also have the time to delve into the technology in depth.
Getting a lot of positive reviews for a technology platform is a breeze. Some low-code platforms specifically market the number of their customers or use cases – others share their customer satisfaction reports. The large, established platforms can also be found in Gartner’s Magic Quadrant or Forrester’s Wave report.
Ideally, you will find a middle ground: platforms that have enthusiastic fans. Conversely, this means that the end-user experience, the technological possibilities and the short- and long-term added value are at a high level. It will be difficult to be successful in the long term with low-code platforms that do not meet these requirements.
Low-code platforms have very different business and pricing models. Some rely on an end-user pricing model, which means that they pay more in the case of a larger number of users or a generally more pronounced use. Other providers determine their prices on the basis of the scope of development, or on the basis of metrics such as the number of applications or developers. Some companies also offer individual products that can be purchased separately, and for most solutions the pricing structure is also based on the available features.
So, despite low entry barriers with free trial access, etc., you should be aware of the costs incurred under productive conditions. However, do not make the mistake of paying attention exclusively to the price when evaluating low-code platforms. In the end, it is crucial that the user experience, the development productivity and the functions in operation are right.
No one can afford to develop low-code applications in silos. Applications must be integrated with enterprise systems, APIs, cloud and data center databases, and third-party data sources. If your company is developing IoT data pipelines or machine learning models, there is a high probability that they will be integrated into low-code platforms.
Almost all platforms offer APIs, but what you can do with them, how well they work and how the providers support the development teams is a completely different topic. The last thing you want is low-code applications that require complex and high-maintenance integrations.
In the first step, it is advisable to take a look at IFTTT platforms: do they integrate with the low-code platform? What actions and triggers are supported? Even if you are not using these platforms productively, you will provide an overview of the platform’s capabilities and the implementation of integration proof-of-concepts.
For a long time, low-code was synonymous with SaaS and cloud hosting options, only a few providers had hybrid cloud and data center options in store. This has changed in the meantime – even low-code platforms now rely on hosting flexibility. You should also consider the options when it comes to DevOps. Because in terms of this, low-code platforms sometimes differ significantly. Especially in areas such as:
- Versioning of applications or integration with a version control system
- Support of the development lifecycle in development, test and other environments
- Enabling agile development processes in conjunction with backlog and roadmap tools
- Integration with CI/CD, continuous testing or ITSM change management processes
- Enabling data snapshots, mirroring, replication or ETL processes to support disaster recovery and data science
In addition, you should also take a look at the governance options in terms of citizen development if you plan to empower employees in the departments to create applications.
The order in which you evaluate low-code platforms is important. This is not to say that compliance and the most unimportant things are. If you are developing applications that need to be HIPAA compliant, have data lineage and auditing skills, or meet other non-negotiable requirements, you should check them first.
When you start implementing applications, you should gain an understanding of how the low-code platforms deal with role-based administration, data masking and other security requirements.
This article is based on an article from our US sister publication Infoworld.
*Isaac Sacolick is the author of the Amazon bestseller “Diving Digital: The Leaders Guide to Business Transformation thourh Technology”. As a freelance author, he writes, among other things, for our US sister publication CIO.com.