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Avoid No-Code Adoption Pitfalls
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This article was first published on Customer Think.

The booming low-code market, which is expected to reach However, business leaders must be aware that adoption has both benefits and drawbacks. The increasingly necessary shift to low-code can drive innovation, boost productivity, and identify the talent shortage, but bad approaches can have drawbacks ranging from stifling workflow to locking code away in a black box, implying that decision-makers must properly prepare to meet the needs of no-code digital businesses.

The escalating need for no-code development

As the economy ramps up, companies are struggling with a growing developer shortage, and there is a need for less-skilled developers to move into the application and IT development. According to one estimate, there was a shortage of 1.4 million software developers by 2021, compared to only 400,000 graduates the previous year.

Because it’s difficult to find highly skilled developers, businesses are turning to other sources to fill the gap. They’re increasingly using low-code and no-code tools to make application development easier, implement new solutions at a quicker pace, and boost developer productivity.

No-code and low-code tools enable business users to use integration templates and assemble code blocks. Skilled developers, on the other hand, can leverage low-code and pro-code tools to concentrate on the more difficult parts of the solution. Low-code and no-code can help software developers concentrate on computing environments that are conducive to innovation, such as microservices, big data, IoT, and DevOps, by freeing up some of the more regular or repeatable tasks, such as GUI development or standard integrations, when done correctly.

The common pitfalls of no-code/low-code development

As no-code becomes more mainstream, app development teams and managers should be aware of some critical concerns. Because of the nature of the abstractions used, traditional no-code approaches have intrinsic disadvantages and can sometimes don’t blend seamlessly with professional coders and their more sophisticated tools. But if done correctly, even the most rigorous professional development tools can benefit from the visual simplifications that no-code can provide.

Here are the common pitfalls of no-code development and tips to get over those pitfalls

Pitfall #1

When arguing against no-code platforms, CEOs and CIOs frequently mention “shadow IT.” They argue that no-code platforms enable citizen developers, or at least provide them with the opportunity to do so without IT intervention and that there is a risk associated with this. What are the dangers?

Citizen developers may end up creating half-baked applications without the IT team’s knowledge. Ineffective applications may float across departments, obstructing the organization’s innovation goals. In other words, no-code platforms have the potential to create a “secret society of application development” among business users.

Tip

A well-established IT governance model can provide the necessary accountability while also making no-code development a collaborative effort.

Business users have the freedom to use no-code platforms under citizen development, but their roles, responsibilities, and permissions must be defined to prevent the creation of shadow IT. This can be accomplished using a governance model that establishes the scope of work at various levels.

Your IT governance model can take a top-down approach, with a single authority overseeing your entire citizen development program, which may include multiple projects and initiatives. Your CTO can lead this office, which can be housed within your IT department.

Pitfall #2

Today’s no-code platforms are more user-friendly than their predecessors, but they are also more technologically advanced. They do make application development much easier for business users, but still, the learning curve for non-programmers is significantly steep and if the right people are not identified and trained for the job, then no-code adoption across the organization might become challenging.

Tip

Choose the right candidates as citizen developers. They are business users who are or were involved in tedious manual processes. So an ideal candidate for citizen development is someone who has hands-on experience in dealing with paper-based processes and understands the related pain points.

Although no technical background is required to use no-code platforms, to build applications visually, the users need to have sound business logic. Therefore, this can be the second consideration when choosing your citizen developer. Learning the basics of a programming language can make it a lot easier for citizen developers to communicate with IT teams. Yes, they don’t need to learn to code, but it’s important for them to understand the entire software development life cycle as well as agile methodologies, prototyping, wireframing, and design thinking. They should understand how programming logic works and correlate that with their business logic. For example, they need to have a basic understanding of how entity relationships or class diagrams work and how data comes together.

An ideal candidate should also have a collaborative mindset because citizen development is not a “one-man show” and is carried out through a governance model. Citizen developers are not independent contributors but much more than that.

As citizen developers are essentially business users, no-code development is not their primary task and they are required to juggle between multiple roles. Therefore, time management is another quality of a productive citizen developer.

Pitfall #3

Low-code/no-code environments often promise that you don’t have to write code, but this is often not the case in practice when it comes to low-code. Most of the configurations related to standard business logic are simple enough to be tackled by citizen developers but often there are scenarios that require significant customization, and without experts, in place, things may go out of hand sooner than later. This may also hamper the scalability of the application.

Tip

IT and business leaders can establish a citizen development management team that is run in collaboration with key stakeholders from both IT and business units. This partnership must be one in which both sets of stakeholders work together and have a number of common and exclusive roles and responsibilities. For example, IT experts can exclusively handle requirements for extensive customization. This kind of arrangement can bring the best of both worlds – no-code and traditional development.

Going beyond the hype

CIOs and tech leaders need a strategic plan that cuts through the hype to reach the low-code market opportunities. Companies must determine the best tool or combination of tools to successfully implement their broader low-code vision, taking into account the entire IT environment. Putting time and resources into a culture of transparency, flexibility, and training can ensure development teams and business users have the software and expertise required to make a real difference with these tools. Building this culture can lead to collaboration and understanding between business and IT, ensuring that their integrations, services, and APIs work in unison — regardless of whether they prefer low-code, no-code, or more advanced source code programming.

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