System modernization is a common problem facing organizations that are reliant on tools critical to their day-to-day operations that are costly to maintain and those that use technologies at or well beyond their end of life. Modernization challenges are compounded by budget constraints and additional urgency from system security and cloud hosting requirements. No/Low Code platforms are an excellent option for organizations to quickly modernize their enterprise portfolio of information systems. They provide a development environment where software is created from a drag-and-drop library of existing templates, requiring little to no coding so the core functionality can be created quickly in a secure cloud platform.
The cloud-native platform aspect of No/Low Code is particularly attractive, as it allows system owners to combine the separate goals of modernization and migration in one solution. It offers a cloud migration shortcut, where business processes can be quickly built out in a cloud platform, thus migrating the capability, not the applications, and resolving any legacy software issues. No/Low Code also offers cross-platform compatibility, so software is available on web browsers, tablets, and mobile devices simultaneously.
These are some of the key benefits of No/Low Code platforms, but they require organizational commitment to realize. The No/Low Code approach is designed to ease the burden and cost of software development and maintenance and shift the ownership of critical business systems into the hands of power users instead of relying on contracted support teams. In assessing a No/Low Code modernization path, an organization needs to be ready to commit to the following:
Invest in agile development education and resources
No/Low Code platforms are designed for an Agile development approach, focusing on identifying capability in the form of user stories, rapid prototyping, and working closely with the user community to shape the application based on priorities and feedback. This requires the customer organization to participate in development as a member of the Agile team. Staff, particularly process experts from the organization, need availability for daily standups, product review and feedback, and Agile process training.
Take an enterprise-wide view of system modernization
Organizations need to fully embrace No/Low Code as a holistic approach to a new enterprise platform to realize the full return on investment. For a stand-alone application, No/Low Code license costs can be very pricey. However, if an organization considers replacing an existing workflow that goes across multiple single function applications with a No/Low Code workflow that integrates all their business processes into a single platform, then the investment makes much more sense. This enterprise approach eliminates multiple system sustainment teams, hardware costs, system interfaces, and streamlines platform maintenance.
Provide training for power users
The ultimate benefit of the No/Low Code platform is the promise of the citizen developer. This power user comes from the organization as a mission expert and primary user of the business system. For a traditional application, they are the voice of whether the software works well or not. Now under a No/Low Code scenario, they are able to build out their own capability without having to engage a development team. They know the requirements, can build the component, and will know immediately if it is working right or not. This cuts out the need for a development team on standby and an extended communication cycle from requirements through testing and release. However, citizen developers need training on the platform to be inclined to take on this technical role, and time and duties aligned with developing capability for themselves and/or on behalf of the rest of the user community.
Establish a center of excellence
A center of excellence (COE) is another critical commitment by the organization to ensure effective implementation of the No/Low Code platform across the enterprise. The COE houses technical experts who focus on reuse, security, and performance. The COE provides leadership and mentoring and creates and maintains reusable components from which citizen developers create their own business processes. In addition, the COE maintains standards and operating procedures to ensure the quality of applications.
Accelerating No/Low Code adoption
Organizations need to go all in on a No/Low Code platform to truly achieve what they promise. Look at your users and your full application portfolio to see if you are ready and able to invest in the organizational change needed. Is your team ready to take ownership of their information systems by becoming Agile No/Low Code platform developers? Are you ready to sunset your current systems as you roll out a flexible and scalable cloud platform that integrates your data and workflows? Hopefully the answer is yes, and your team is primed to follow through and commit to this new development environment.
This article was originally published in the Public Service Council’s Service Contractor magazine.
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