Low-Code has high potential
The low-code trend harbors great potential, but relevant open questions and risks nevertheless remain. Low-code involves application development on the basis of "prefabricated" components that require little or no hard coding. Low-code is generally used in conjunction with low-code platforms in the cloud. These platforms are mostly designed as development platforms in line with the platform as a service (PaaS) model. The platforms enable users to develop turnkey applications and they also support a large number of APIs.
Low-code platforms offer the potential to significantly accelerate the development of new applications and services. Companies employ them both inside and outside IT departments because they are easy for people with little or no programming experience (citizen developers – CDs) to learn to use. The challenges and risks here frequently relate to issues associated with governance and infrastructure, data, and application management.
The "Low-Code" Sprint Workstream therefore extensively addressed these issues as they relate to the launch of low-code platforms and tools. The participating companies developed a detailed checklist for determining whether a low-code platform should be introduced in a given environment. The checklist includes aspects such as security and risk management, enterprise architecture, capacity management, systems integration, and APIs. The best practices of workstream companies that use low-code were also incorporated here.
Low-code is already used in many areas ranging from operations (e. g. work-flow management), IT (e. g. application management), and support (e. g. user interfaces) to HR (employee surveys), finance (e. g. reporting) and marketing (e. g. product catalogs). Consultants from Gartner say that by 2023, the number of CDs at large companies will be at least four times higher than the number of professional developers.
"Citizen developers will be increasingly used in simpler projects, while more complex projects will continue to be handled by the professionals," says Hendrik Grosser from Detecon, who organized the workstream. "Neverthe- less, we also expect that cooperation between CDs and professionals will not only speed up development but also simplify the requirements management process."
The workstream members neverthe- less believe that solutions are still needed for many issues, such as:
- A certain lack of understanding onthe part of business users and citizendevelopers.
- Problems with integration as it relates to linking all relevant systems in order to ensure benefits can be fully exploited.
- Low-code systems are not always designed for high performance, and their use can therefore become inefficient.
- Data protection and security risks need to be taken into account when low-code systems are to be used.
- Depiction of the software develop- ment lifecycle for low-code (design, test, deployment).
- Fragmentation risks due to the use of multiple specialized platforms.
- Risk of vendor lock-ins.
- Employee training for the respectiveplatforms, and training in agile cooperation.
The workstream arrived at a positive conclusion, despite the existing issues. Performance is improving. The workstream’s results white paper concluded that for simple products, low-code development is unbeatable in terms of speed and the low commitment of resources involved. Nevertheless, companies should not forgo traditional programming in conjunction with complex products and should use the checklist to thoroughly weigh the pros and cons in each case. The platforms offer a broad range of instruments that can be managed centrally. The ease of use of such instruments mean they can be utilized throughout a company. Pressure on the IT department also decreases. Because the low-code platforms are relatively easy to create, the business units and departments can design products in line with their specific requirements.
This frees up capacity for IT departments, which means developers can focus on critical core applications.
Citizen developers should be supported by a community and structures that ensure data transparency. Low-code communities and centers of excellence are particularly helpful for citizen developers, as they encourage people without a coding background to develop products on their own and also provide the guidance that is needed in the initial phase especially. It must be possible to locate data in a transparent process and it must also be possible to use this data within the framework of an access control system.
"Low-code is what enables us to exploit all the possibilities for using data to generate information that has a real impact on business," says CBA Lab Ambassador Uwe Weber, who initiated the workstream.
CBA Lab Ambassador
Low-code is what enables it us to exploit all the possibilities for using data to generate information that has a real impact on business.
Guideline for the development of a governance model for the establishment of Low-Code Development Platforms (LCDP) in companies.
1. Define organizational structure
Goal: Required areas of activity (architecture, infrastructure, platform, integration, development, operations, business support, business usage) that should be anchored in the organizational structure.
2. Define roles
Goal: Best practice roles for LCDP development, support & environment deployment.
3. Define responsibilities
Goal: Methodology to divide developed roles into operational and strategic responsibilities per activity area.
4. Define decision processes
Goal: List all decision processes of the activity areas including decision criteria.
5. Define DevOps quality standards (TOM)
Goal:List different development levels including methodology for assessing accountability and quality standards.
6. Define EA guidelines
Goal: Best practices for developing data & access control governance and overcoming vendor lock-in.
7. Define collaboration model
Goal: Approaches to LCDP enablement across the organization.
Detailed work results are available exclusively to CBA Lab members.