You have probably heard of both ’Low Code’ and ‘No Code’.
No Code uses a visual development environment to allow a layman or ‘Citizen’ user to create apps without much technical knowledge.
Low Code uses similar approaches, but from the perspective of making your technical staff far more productive by taking away the routine aspects of creating applications. Low code platforms are more complex and therefore more difficult to learn. It probably takes a month or two to get truly competent in using these.
Low Code uses a visual design methodology rather than the code you see in traditional programming languages. Functionality is created by dragging and dropping components together and then configuring them. Anyone familiar with Microsoft CRM or Salesforce.com will already understand this approach to development. The difference with Low Code is that you can scratch build applications and use it as a wider development platform.
Very simple solutions can be automatically constructed in minutes, but do not be fooled a proper solution will require much more work. You will still need to perform proper requirements gathering, design, build and testing like any other software project. Having said that these tools are so rapid that you can actually work alongside business stakeholders in a highly agile fashion to create and showcase base solutions, potentially in real time. A minimal viable product offering can often be created in a matter of days.
From a support perspective you still need to document comment and use meaningful naming conventions in Low Code but the visual representations are much easier to interpret even to the uninitiated.
The kind of things you can do using these platforms include creating data objects, screens, processes and integrations. User management, email and SMS capability also come ‘out of the box’ and can be integrated with your company Active Directory for single sign on. Some platforms provide you with a kit of basic building blocks such as base CRM objects, which looks tempting, but creating new object is so easy you may not want to bother with this too much.
The platforms themselves are generally ‘Software as a Service’ and therefore will be continually upgraded and improved by the provider, with the platform only getting better as time goes on. The provider will also look after platform security, but of course you still need to make sure that your development practices are secure, but typically the platform will let you know if you are doing something inappropriate. Support should become substantially easier both from an application and infrastructure perspective.
In any evaluation you should ensure the platform is easily extendable. Ideally this would be using a non-proprietary programming language, so you can leverage existing in-house or readily available industry expertise. Finally pick companies who you think will be around tomorrow, they are out there.
Some platforms provide more secure hosting solutions as an option which is useful for people operating in more sensitive industries such as Financial Services or Healthcare.