How to Find the Right Low-Code Platform

How to Find the Right Low-Code Platform

Low-code platforms hold enormous potential, but the solutions sometimes differ considerably. This is what you should pay attention to when choosing. […]

From a business perspective, it often makes sense to rely on microservices, individually adapted applications, proprietary data banks or enterprise workflows. But there are also circumstances in which business and technology teams should consider low – code and no-code platforms. For example, to speed up 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 developing 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. To find the right low-code platform for your business, consider the following seven selection criteria.

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 business accelerate application development and implement enhancements. 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 diverse needs of app developers and use cases when looking at low-code platforms. Most important, however, is to get a sense of 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 because there is no guarantee that the approach will be optimal for future requirements as well.

Some platforms adorn themselves with the label low-code, implying that at least rudimentary programming skills may be required to develop applications. Other platforms are marketed as No Code and provide 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 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.

Depending on which of the two groups should 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 deeply into the technology.

Getting tons 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 the Wave Report from Forrester.

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 hard to succeed 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 they pay more in the case of a larger number of users or a generally more pronounced use. Other providers determine their prices based on the scope of development, or on 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 price structure is also based on the available features.

So you should be aware of the costs under production conditions despite low entry barriers with free trial access, etc. However, do not make the mistake of paying attention only 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 the company are right.

Nobody can afford to develop low-code applications in silos. Applications must integrate with enterprise systems, APIs, cloud and data center databases, and third-party data sources. If your company develops IoT data pipelines or machine learning models, chances are that they will be integrated into low-code platforms.

Virtually all platforms offer APIs, but what you can do with them, how well they work, and how the vendors support the development teams is a completely different issue. The last thing you want is low-code applications that require complex and high-maintenance integrations.

In the first step, it is recommended to take a look at IFTTT platforms: Do they integrate with the low-code platform? Which actions and triggers are supported? Even if you do not use these platforms productively, you will provide an overview of the capabilities of the platform and the implementation of integration proof-of-concepts.

Low-code has been synonymous with SaaS and cloud hosting options for a long time, with only a few providers offering hybrid cloud and data center options. That 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 as far as this is concerned, 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
  • Enable data snapshots, mirroring, replication or ETL processes to support disaster recovery and data science

You shouldn’t expect low-code platforms to be as flexible as Java, .NET or JavaScript DevOps. Switching to low-code also has pitfalls-after all, the goal is to simplify all the “scaffolding” needed to support app development and IT operations. The question is whether they meet the business and technical requirements-not whether they match the tools and processes made for software development.

In addition, you should also take a look at the governance options for citizen development if you plan to empower people in the departments to create applications.

The order in which you rate low-code platforms is important. This is not to say that compliance and security are the least important things. If you are developing applications that need to be HIPAA compliant, have data lineage and auditing skills, or meet other non-negotiable requirements, consider them first.

Then, when you start implementing applications, you should gain an understanding of how the low-code platforms handle role-based administration, masking, and other security requirements.

This post is based on an article from our US sister publication Infoworld.

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