Low-code platforms: Move mountains with small software development teams

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As the move toward digital transformation within the industrial space picks up pace, companies need to ensure they stay ahead of the curve. The automation of manual processes through the implementation of digital apps is an important piece of this puzzle. As demand for custom apps inside organizations continues to increase, the onus falls on the IT department to supply ever more custom-developed apps. Many companies in traditional “non-technology” industries have historically not invested in building up IT teams capable of large-scale custom software development — and they are therefore under strain as demand continues to climb.

The traditional approach to software development requires the skills of a large team with diverse roles. Many industrial companies simply do not have the resources to employ such large teams — causing IT teams to try to juggle responsibilities such as maintaining their core business systems, with new custom app development — or put their fate in the hands of third parties.

Fortunately, there is hope: Enter low-code app development platforms that enable smaller IT teams to deliver increasingly sophisticated custom software applications. In this article, we take a look at how low-code platforms can be leveraged by smaller development teams within industrial companies to deliver apps without having to follow the traditional, headcount-heavy software development model.

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The Old World: Headcount-Heavy Software Development

The traditional approach to the internal development of custom software requires a large team consisting of diverse roles throughout the lifecycle of the project. Some of the roles that are usually involved with a traditional software development project include:

  • Business Analysts
  • Enterprise Architects
  • UI/UX Designers
  • Front-End Developers
  • Backend Developers
  • Database Administrators
  • Project Managers
  • Security Professionals

The need for such a large team means that smaller IT groups have faced immense struggles with software development projects. It also places pressure on the organization to find people that are highly skilled in each role, which is a tremendously difficult endeavor considering the shortage of tech talent and the fierce competition for talent.

Another constraint of traditional software development is time. Building a software solution requires continuous collaboration with business stakeholders and the input of all the roles listed above. This typically causes a software project to take years to be completed; costing the company money and increasing the risk of falling behind the competition. It is because of these two main constraints — resources and time — that low-code app development is something that all industrial companies should be implementing.

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The New World: Low-Code Software Development

Low-code platforms allow developers with varying levels of experience to build apps for mobile and desktop environments. Essentially, low-code platforms make it quick and easy to build applications by using a simple Integrated Development Environment (IDE). Developers typically build applications using high-leverage tools such as visual drag-and-drop interfaces and model-driven logic — while the number of lines of code that need to be written is minimized compared to traditional software development.

Some app development platforms aim to go even further — into so-called “no-code” app development. The idea is that the average employee can become a “citizen developer” and set out to build apps themselves. Unfortunately, no-code frameworks such as Business Process Modeling Notation (BPMN) become highly complex for anything but trivially simple apps — and therefore the idea of the citizen developer is largely a marketing myth — a chimera.

No-code app development may have fallen short of its marketing promises, but low-code development is still a must-have for organizations today, because of the leverage that they provide to IT teams.

Low-code platforms allow for the development of custom software applications with much smaller teams. In fact, one developer can build an end-to-end application, as opposed to the traditional approach which can require a plethora of roles to be involved. Low-code platforms also allow developers to build an application in a fraction of the time that it would traditionally take. Rather than spending time and effort to manually code an app from scratch, and figuring out a vast number of technical complexities, low-code platforms allows the developer to work from existing templates and prebuilt elements, to get to a working application that meets the business need with a lot less hassle.

Developers can also make low-code platforms go further than building a simple app. IoT devices, AI and machine learning can all be incorporated into apps built on a low-code platform. Using a low-code platform does not limit the ability of the IT team to implement advanced technologies to enhance their applications.

Low-code platforms enable business to approach IT with a need and for IT deliver on that need in a short amount of time. Teams can work together to create, iterate and release apps in much less time, and using much less resources than the traditional approach.

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Benefits of low code app development

  • Smaller IT teams can deliver plenty of apps to business users, even if their capacity is limited.

  • IT can build solutions for a variety of use cases — even for lower-value use cases where the cost of traditional custom software development would have broken the business case in the past.

  • Legacy apps can be upgraded and modernized efficiently, ensuring that the organization does not fall behind its competitors who are digitally transforming themselves.

  • By shipping software projects faster, productivity gains for business end-users are realized much more quickly, while productivity is also increased within the IT team.

  • The organization accelerates its journey to complete digital transformation.

  • The quick delivery of digital solutions drives operational excellence within the organization.

  • Customers satisfaction can be improved through comprehensive digital automation and first-class digital user experiences, improving customer retention and growing revenue.

  • Manual and paper-based processes can be automated more efficiently, in order to increase accuracy and quality while reducing costs and easily integrating with core systems.

In conclusion

Low-code platforms are enabling IT teams at industrial companies to deliver digital solutions to business users quickly, regardless of whether they have small development teams with limited bandwidth. The traditional approach to application development requires a headcount-heavy team and it can take years for software projects to be completed. Low-code development turns this dynamic on its head — and therefore it is becoming critical for industrial companies to invest in a low-code platform.

JourneyApps offers a low-code platform tailor-made for industrial companies — for companies in industries such as oil & gas, mining & metals, chemicals and high-tech manufacturing. IT teams can build and deploy complex applications that integrate with core systems and also work offline and integrate with hardware in the field. Low-code platforms offer benefits that industrial companies simply cannot ignore.


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