What is low-code app development? We break it down for you

Two women business department leaders work on their laptops, designing new applications using a low-code platform.

In this piece:

Agility is the key to smart, strategic growth, especially in uncertain times.

You’ve likely heard or read variations of this line multiple times, but how do you achieve this almost mythical agility?

The short answer: With a low-code platform.

The long answer: By testing promising technology that prioritizes — and delivers — agility. Organizations are increasingly using low-code to help developers deliver software faster. This acceleration of time-to-value can be seen in the weeks vs. months timeframe for new applications, as well as the custom-built apps coming at a fraction of the cost.

In contrast, applications not built on a low-code platform are notoriously more difficult or cost-prohibitive to modify, often requiring substantial financial investment, months of waiting for development and cross-departmental change management.

That certainly does not sound very agile.

Here’s what you need to know about low-code before you consider investing in it.

What is low-code app development?

Low-code app development is a way of building applications and processes through visual interfaces and logic rather than having to use code yourself.

By using a low-code platform’s visual development environment to enable easy configuration by means of drop-down menus and checkboxes, even line-of-business users can build and tweak mission-critical applications, as opposed to traditional software development that requires developers.


> Learn more about the terminology around low-code


Low-code vs. pro-code: A head-to-head comparison

LOW-CODE DEVELOPMENT PRO-CODE DEVELOPMENT
Definition Uses a graphical user interface, featuring drop-down menus and checkboxes, to develop software applications. Uses manual coding to develop software applications.
Tools Uses rapid application development (RAD) tools for web app development. Uses web frameworks and programming languages to hard-code web applications.
Coding knowledge Minimizes the need for code. Low-code developers require only basic coding knowledge. Professional web developers with advanced coding skills and knowledge of multiple web frameworks are needed.
Speed of development Ready in 1–3 weeks. Ready in 2–8 months.
Agility Higher agility — changes can be made more quickly, and errors can be backtracked or resolved immediately. Lower agility due to manual coding. Agility can be boosted by professional developers following agile development practices.
Deployment Faster deployment. Slower deployment.
Maintenance Comparatively low maintenance — your low-code apps update when the development platform updates. Minimal resources spent on regular maintenance. High maintenance — a dedicated team is required to regularly update coding and maintain the platform.
Cost Build what you need, when you need it, at a fraction of the cost. Code is complex and expensive to design, create and test.

Key features of low-code apps

By utilizing low-code, you benefit from the core strengths of your chosen platform. Browse this list of key features to learn the full extent of low-code’s transformative powers for your organization:

Rapid application development

Rapid application development (RAD) empowers you to build the application rather than the code: Simply drag-and-drop to configure business apps at the speed end users expect, while meeting regulatory demands.

Low-code platforms’ visual modeling streamlines processes and allows software to be delivered faster. Checkboxes, radio buttons and drop-down menus minimize expensive, time-consuming and difficult-to-maintain coding or scripting.

And when requirements change (as they invariably do), head back to those easy point-and-click functionalities to expand, modify and improve your app on the spot.

Configurable security options

The best low-code app-building platforms are pre-configured to be secure right out of the box.

This security should be inherent, whether it’s deployed on-premise or in the cloud, and capable of integrating with other external security systems.

Some of the built-in security features you can expect from low-code platforms are:

  • Strict password policies with configurable complexity, rotation and lockout requirements
  • Granular rights management that limits users’ access exclusively to authorized data
  • Security keywords that allow administrators to further restrict access based on document metadata

Workflow automation

The right low-code platforms give your business the ability to implement advanced process and workflow automation, which is an essential part of your digital transformation journey. This capability, combined with concepts like robotic process automation, machine learning and artificial intelligence, can help improve processes across your organization, allowing you to:

  • See optimized process and data management
  • Anticipate the needs of users and customers
  • Give your employees the opportunity to redirect their focus to higher-value tasks

> Learn more | Low-code automation: Why and how it benefits your organization

Reporting and analytics

Your business’ continuous improvement hinges on the ability to monitor, report on and optimize your key processes and work streams. Without the appropriate insight, you risk inefficiencies and compliance oversights.

Top low-code platforms provide reporting and analytics solutions that give you the transparency you need to act, including real-time insights into the status of your processes, record completeness and system health.

The worldwide shortage of full-time developers will increase from 1.4 million in 2021 to 4.0 million in 2025.

$IDC https://www.hyland.com/en/learn/it-programs/idc-whitepaper$

Citizen development

An IDC whitepaper sponsored by Hyland, Navigating software solution delivery in a digitally transformed world*cites IDC’s Worldwide Developer Forecast, which predicted the worldwide shortage of full-time developers would increase from 1.4 million in 2021 to 4 million in 2025 — an explosive 185% increase in the need for developers.

To bridge the development skills gap, 31% of IT respondents in the IDC survey said they would give more developer duties to staff outside of the IT department using technologies such as low-code or robotic process automation (RPA). These nondevelopers with no prior coding experience, called citizen developers, can use these low-code platforms with the support of IT to make quick, effective business applications for their teams.

Pre-built integrations

Robust low-code platforms include prebuilt integrations that get your new technology running quickly and seamlessly with your other core systems. Without the prebuilt connectors, getting a new platform manually coded for integration can slow down implementation and even user adoption, while struggling to unite disparate systems.

The best low-code platforms make it easy to connect to other enterprise systems, so no custom integrations need to be built by the IT team.

Low-code use cases

No matter your industry, leveraging a low-code app development platform ensures your organization is primed and ready to expand in every department.

Here are some use-cases highlighting some of the common expansions that can connect your enterprise across any department:

Accounting and finance

Leveraging a low-code platform can enable you to quickly roll out mission-critical solutions into your accounting and finance department, yielding:

  • Improved cash flow management: With high visibility into invoice volumes, employees have all the information they need to speed up the entire invoice life cycle.
  • Minimized operational costs: Staff is connected with the information needed to maximize productivity, and optimized reporting capabilities increase visibility into cash flow, which improves accuracy and accelerates payment applications.
  • Simplified capital expenditure proposals and approvals: Modernizing with low-code replaces antiquated methods for managing cross-enterprise spending.
  • Optimized financial compliance efforts: Built-in dashboard reports, native audit trails and more optimized compliance initiatives, including Payment Card Industry (PCI) audit/PCI compliance and SarbanesOxley (SOX) audit/financial controls.
  • Smarter financial reporting: Track and analyze monthly finances with historical and trending prediction reporting.
  • Streamlined vendor management: Leverage a centralized location for creating and updating vendor records, where employees can also manage all vendor documents in a simplified workflow that increases productivity.

Human resources

Your human resources (HR) department is crucial to your organization’s first impression. A low-code platform enables you to rapidly deliver business-transforming applications that can boost everything from finances to employee longevity:

  • Increased compensation management efficiency: Maximize efficiency with a central view into employee compensation data and export it directly into your payroll system.
  • Improved drug and alcohol testing governance: Provide customized regulatory reporting.
  • Streamlined employee onboarding and separation management: Boost smooth transitions, monitor tasks across departments, and quickly identify issues or bottlenecks with reporting dashboards at the employee, department or organization level.
  • Effective, secure employee records management: Comprehensive digital employee files from hire to rehire can connect employee data in your Human Capital Management system.
  • Holistic employee relations management: Create an overview of all tasks, conversations, notes and documentation surrounding an employee, from a single location. This enables consistent processes for handling employee complaints, grievances, safety violations or misconduct, all of which minimizes legal risk.

Purchasing

Building low-code solutions for purchasing enables instant access to the information purchasing team members need, like:

  • Price quotes
  • Invoices
  • Proposals and more

This enables the quick, easy creation and deployment of supplier management workflows and customized routing processes that greatly optimize productivity, leaving more time for your team to focus on big-picture plans.

Customer service and support

Low-code apps allow your business to deliver on customer expectations faster than ever before, with:

  • Expedited complaint management workflows: Track any complaint made while assigning and managing tasks to handle the ticket and providing vital visibility into the solution.
  • Simplified customer rebate management: Gain visibility from the moment a consumer uses a rebate all the way until it’s acknowledged by the vendor’s accounting department.

IT

Reduce IT sprawl and maximize return on investment (ROI) by consolidating multiple applications across the organization as well as in the IT department on a single low-code platform:

  • Centralize asset management: Connect all information and work requests related to the procurement, maintenance and repair of IT assets, and make them easily accessible to all IT staff.
  • Track all IT service ticketing processes: Standardized electronic forms accelerate resolution times and improve service speeds and levels.

Are you ready to leverage the full transformative power of low-code?

Smart, strategic growth is often what it takes to build scalability and strength at an enterprise level. Hyland can be the partner that helps your business get there.

We are a Leader in Gartner’s Magic Quadrant for Content Services Platforms, and one of our biggest strengths that the report highlighted was our low-code application platform.

Learn more about building better applications in less time with Hyland’s platform for low-code development.

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*doc #US48749222, January 2022

Sara Zenner is a senior marketing professional with over 15 years of experience in the software technology space, specializing in complex B2B solutions. The majority of her career has been dedicated to campaign strategy and product marketing, where she creates compelling messaging, positioning and go-to-market plans. As a member of the product marketing team, Sara provides coverage for Hyland’s low-code and developer-focused technologies.

 
Sara Zenner

Sara Zenner

Sara Zenner is a senior marketing professional with over 15 years of experience in the software technology space, specializing in complex B2B solutions. The majority of her career has been... read more about: Sara Zenner