4 Ways to Defeat Your Application Development Backlog with No-Code Tools
Feb 4, 2020
By Sean King
Whether you are a business leader waiting for your system to be built or enhance or a project manager overseeing a team of application developers having trouble keeping up with demands, everyone understands that modern IT departments are stretched thin.
There is demand for new applications and updates from all quarters, and IT is under constant pressure to deliver value. However, there is only so much even the most talented developers can do on a given day…
The reality is that for every request actioned, two more arrive. It's hardly surprising that so many organizations are unable to rid themselves of an application development backlog and increasingly struggle to focus on long-term transformational goals as a result.
That's why both IT and business leaders are increasingly looking to sophisticated no-code tools to overcome capacity and resource limitations to unleash technological innovation.
The limitations of traditional application coding
I respect the power and flexibility of code. Traditionally, if you wanted a solution to a business problem, and off-the-shelf software wasn't suitable, then developing custom code was the answer.
However, it's important to remember that custom code has limitations. Firstly, code requires a substantial investment, both in terms of money and resources, to design, deploy, and maintain. Even if you are using a low-code generator tool, you still have code to maintain.
Secondly, coding takes time to get it right. That means time to deliver a working solution, then even more time every time your business needs evolve. Operating for a sustained period with substandard business processes sacrifices productivity and competitive advantage.
As the demands on IT departments increase, thought leaders are reconsidering whether relying entirely on custom code remains the best approach to their application development challenges.
No-code application configuration platforms have become increasingly sophisticated and versatile in recent years, emerging as an attractive option for organizations that value flexibility and want to take advantage of rapid app development cycles to meet fast-moving business needs.
What is no-code application development?
With no-code development tools, applications are configured without having to dictate backend database design and functionality. Therefore, you can focus on what an app needs to do, rather than worrying about how to do it.
This ability to focus on what the desired functionality should be, while letting your development tool configure how to set up the control flow and data structure is known as a declarative approach. Conversely, traditional coding is a procedural process that requires the application designer to define backend data structures, communications, and error handling. These tasks are where application development becomes complex, time-consuming, and often prohibitively expensive.
An advanced no-code declarative configuration approach speeds up development cycles significantly by taking care of the backend components, empowering organizations to focus on business processes, and in doing so, reducing their application development backlog and reassigning resources towards long-term transformational projects.
How do organizations benefit by adopting no-code tools?
1. Address business needs more responsively with fewer resources
One of the main reasons cited by organizations for adopting no-code is the speed of development. An app can move from ideation to implementation quickly, without becoming bogged down in lengthy QA cycles needed to test the database structure and core functionality.
With leading no-code platforms, intuitive point-and-click tools are used to create the user interface, generate a structured database, and configure sophisticated workflows. Many no-code adopters report the ability to build and test prototypes in hours, compared to weeks or months with traditional code.
Once an app has been deployed, changes can be made on the fly without having to unpick line upon line of code, with updates published instantly to all web and mobile devices.
By leveraging no-code development, organizations benefit from a genuinely agile and iterative approach that generates significant ROI by allowing organizations to deploy more efficient business processes in weeks, often months or even years before a coded solution is ready for production.
2. Apply valuable developer knowledge and expertise more intelligently
The reality is that it's becoming increasingly difficult to hire and retain developers as the gap between demand and the pool of experienced coders increases. According to Fortune Magazine, in 2019, the unemployment rate for US tech workers hit the lowest number ever recorded. The best talent doesn't come cheap, and increasingly firms are finding that even top dollars can't attract the skills needed to develop and maintain quality custom-coded applications.
For organizations that understand the need to innovate and have dedicated resources to build a strong development team, dropping your talented developers into the middle of an application development backlog is counterproductive.
With no-code development, organizations can reassign their top IT talent towards long-term transformative projects. Ensuring the most experienced developers are being used for projects that require their full skills and expertise, rather than burying them under a mountain of mundane change requests on legacy applications.
3. Unleash innovation by democratizing development
What separates true no-code solutions from traditional development and low-code alternatives is that you don't need a professional developer to create sophisticated apps.
Instead, citizen developers, such as business analysts who have an intimate understanding of requirements, are empowered to build applications that solve business problems and directly implement solutions. IT professionals still administer governance frameworks to ensure security and mitigate risk, but responsibility for the design, deployment, and maintenance of applications can be largely outsourced to business units.
Professional developers are liberated to spend more time focused on plotting the strategic technology roadmap, and less time manually coding workflow applications for end-users. IT managers can engage their most skilled developers with projects that deliver long-term business value, such as integrating systems to break down information silos.
By efficiently harnessing and utilizing everyone's unique skills and insights, no-code democratizes application development and allows innovation to thrive.
4. Better processes mean more productive people
While organizations benefit from a larger pool of insights to draw on to create better processes and a reduced application backlog by creating more productive IT employees.
The changes to culture and productivity brought about by no-code app development can help organizations more effectively pursue an enterprise-wide agile operating model.
Organizations can respond quickly to evolving business needs. Changing business processes with a traditional approach, even using low-code development, almost invariably ends up bogged down in rewriting and retesting applications. This costs organizations time, with long delays between identifying a better business process and being able to deploy the solution. Ultimately, this also costs organizations money too, as inefficiencies are endured even after a better practice has been identified.
No-code toolsets allow organizations to genuinely live-by an agile, iterative ideology, leading to a significant competitive advantage over time.
Is no-code sophisticated enough for enterprise-grade deployments?
There is a perception among developers that if no-code toolsets are accessible enough for non-IT professionals to build applications, then the toolset must be limited. However, that’s no longer the case with the evolution of advanced no-code application development platforms.
Many business use cases require similar field structure and functionality customized to suit a specific department or business unit need. It's just that with traditional procedural approaches, specialized skills are required to set up the basic frameworks.
For organizations with no-code toolsets, common applications can be configured and deployed quickly. While with custom code, even repetitive functionality can require significant time and resources to deploy.
Advanced no-code tools support complex workflow automations, while API integrations allow connectivity with external systems to create end-to-end solutions. Developers with integration expertise can utilize the same no-code tools to connect and scale complex unified systems for the enterprise.
The key to success is in opening innovation to everyone. This what is no-code does, it allows the people who know the process to build their solutions, and it allows professional developers to dedicate their valuable time to those tasks that truly require their skills.
Adopting no-code tools is an effective way to respond quickly to increased IT demand as business needs change, amending, and adding apps at speed helps maintain productivity and competitive advantage.
Advances in configurable process automation robots can deliver huge business value without the risk of becoming bogged down by the need to update a complex code structure.
As the Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT) continues to emerge as an actionable business opportunity, the ability to quickly configure devices to provide data to core business systems will provide yet another advantage to firms that embrace no-code configuration, IT thought leaders are adopting these tools now to remain competitive in the decade ahead.
No-code application development offers organizations an opportunity to clear their development backlog and refocus their effort and resources towards long-term strategic goals.
By engaging your entire enterprise in building and maintaining applications, IT departments can clear their app dev backlogs, unleash organizational potential, and deliver value to the enterprise.
Contact one of our experts to learn more about how no-code app configuration can benefit your organization.