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Three Pillars of Sustainable Low Code

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Read more about author Francis Carden.

It’s not exactly a secret that many organizations are implementing some form of low-code technology to help speed innovation and increase efficiency. And while low code can be truly transformative, it can also cause problems down the line if not implemented correctly. Incorporating low-code solutions without proper executive buy-in and a long-term vision and strategy can go very, very wrong – costing organizations labor hours spent correcting broken apps or even steep regulatory fines.

A common goal when implementing low code should be sustainability – a lasting strategy that doesn’t need to be replaced every few years. Low code needs to have the endurance that allows brands to seamlessly and continuously innovate and adapt. To do so, organizations need to be mindful of a few key factors when implementing a strategy across the business. A proper low-code platform will not only unite data and channels but also provide insight into potential problems – such as security, functionality, personal or financial data governance issues, compliance, and more – before they become a reality.

Done correctly, you won’t need to replace your technology stack or recode apps every time there’s an industry shift or a new regulatory change. Here are three pillars of creating a sustainable low-code strategy to avoid creating short-term fixes that ultimately break in one way or another. 

Pillar One: Governance

Governance helps a business define and apply guardrails necessary to keep applications compliant with internal policies and external regulations, as well as maintain a level of quality for development as more folks throughout an organization build solutions. Sustainable low code relies on the right amount of hands-on involvement, which is critical for preventing the wild west of low-code adoption that ultimately does the exact opposite of what it’s meant for. Without governance, users will build whatever they think is right (not necessarily what is right) for the business without understanding potential consequences, including sucking up IT resources to fix apps that break or potential compliance issues that result in heavy fines. 

Guardrails have “got your back,” so to speak – they apply to many areas of low-code development, guiding organizations to adhere to standardizations that protect them from painful and costly future changes and upgrades. Guardrails can be applied to areas like integration, UX designs, workflow layouts, templates, business rules, and more. By providing guardrails for developers of all skill levels, users have the freedom to quickly and easily build applications that solve critical matters for the organization while also ensuring that once an app goes live, it is compliant and functional. Features like inbuilt reports can also give your guardrails a score, and the higher that is, the better the results. Ultimately, quality guardrails result in better, more consistent apps that won’t wreak havoc down the line, as well as faster time-to-market when new business needs arise. 

Pillar Two: Collaboration

Another key factor for a sustainable low-code strategy is a collaboration between business leaders and IT. Low code is a tremendous technology, but to truly succeed, it needs a collaborative culture around it to ensure alignment, so there is a true strategy behind an organization’s approach. There’s an industry myth that low code enables anyone to build projects without the help of IT, which just isn’t true. What happens when a citizen developer builds something without guidance, and the app goes live? Who determines viability and risk, and who supports that app when things need updating or fixing, or when compliance enforces critical changes? 

Low code does not mean business users should go rogue and build whatever they want – they need to ensure that what they want to build makes sense within the greater context of what an organization is trying to achieve. Everyone from IT to business leaders to employees and customers stands to benefit from the implementation and proper use of low-code development, but alignment is paramount. Collaboration and alignment across the business will support a mature, sustainable approach to low code.

Pillar Three: Intent

When using low-code technology, it’s very important to not just build, but build with purpose. On the journey to mature low code, it is important to be mindful of an organization’s overall goals. While it’s generally easy to quickly create low-code applications, and in effect, a key benefit, if not done with greater intent, those applications may just be putting an unsustainable band-aid on inefficient systems. Immature low-code deployments look a lot like a house of cards – they can stand up in the moment, but the longevity of the structure is not reliable. Purpose-built low code is a key foundation to a sustainable low-code approach. 

It’s critical for different parts of a business to have conversations regarding their specific needs and how they fit into the greater strategy of the company. A company looking to expand its customer base will have different goals than one looking to take its operations fully digital for the first time. Having direction and open communication will ensure that no matter who is building and what they are building, they build with purpose with the greater business in mind. 

These three pillars are very closely tied and reliant on each other – if you don’t have one in place, the whole low-code infrastructure starts to crumble. Low code has tremendous potential to help organizations build and innovate long-term – not just in the moment. Creating less waste and more efficiency with low code helps ensure an organization can continue to grow and evolve as it needs – both now and in the future.

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