Checklist for Citizen Development in the company 4 criteria for the appropriate low-code approach
Low-code technologies also enable employees without an IT background to create their own applications, widgets and automated robots using drag-and-drop. In order to find the right low-code approach, companies should consider four criteria.
When it comes to software development and process automation in companies, trained programmers and IT experts are no longer the only players. According to an estimate by Gartner, the global market volume for low-code development technologies amounted to 13.8 billion US dollars in 2021. This corresponds to an increase of 22.6 percent compared to the previous year.
Growth will not stop in the coming years. On the one hand, the software requirements of companies continue to increase – as does the pressure to implement and adapt solutions and processes faster and faster. On the other hand, an end to the shortage of IT specialists is not in sight.
There is hardly a way around involving non-specialist employees in software development. As a citizen developer, you will play a key role in designing corporate apps, automating workflows and designing technical solutions for business problems. By 2025, half of all new low-code buyers will already come from areas outside the IT department, according to the Gartner forecast just mentioned.
On average, 41 percent of non-IT employees are already developing or adapting technical solutions. However, there is no silver bullet for which low-code approach companies should pursue. The following criteria help to define a strategy.
Criterion 1: Context
One of the most important aspects to consider is the company-specific requirements. It is advisable to take a close look inside and ask specific questions:
- What does the existing IT infrastructure look like?
- Where is the company on its path of digital transformation?
- For which purposes is the low-code platform needed, i.e.: What types of applications are to be developed? Which business processes should be automated and accelerated?
- Which departments and people will use the tool?
- What know-how do the citizen developers in particular bring with them?
Criterion 2: Degree of complexity
A low-code platform must meet the heterogeneous requirements of both IT and business users. If the solution is too complex, it can demotivate the latter. If it is too simple, IT teams will not be able to handle more demanding tasks and workflows.
Companies can only exploit the full potential of low code if the platform strikes a balance between ease of use and sufficient functionality. For example, a drag-and-drop interface is recommended so that citizen developers can create apps and processes as intuitively as possible.
It is important that both user groups – business and IT users – like to use the tool productively. In this way, it is possible to extend low code to the business-critical areas and to raise them to the level of workflow automation.
Criterion 3: Scalability
Automation initiatives are often limited to a specific department, business function, or location. However, such an isolated approach prevents scaling and thus reduces the profitability of the low-code solution.
In order to automate processes across departments and locations, an integrated approach is needed. According to a recent study by Forrester Consulting on behalf of Kofax, companies agree on this. 99 Percent of respondents believe that a single-vendor strategy helps to implement intelligent automation across silo boundaries.
Criterion 4: Ability to integrate
For this purpose, the low-code technology must also fit as seamlessly as possible into the IT architecture of the company. The platform should be able to be connected to existing IT through open interfaces and integrate processes across a wide variety of systems.
Support for mobile devices and the use of reusable components are also valuable features. For example, it should be possible for the IT department to provide citizen developers with custom development modules. Last but not least, it is important that the services of a low-code solution are flexibly available in the cloud and also on-premises.
When used correctly, low-code platforms offer enormous potential for advancing digitization and automation more efficiently – in all areas of an organization. Business users contribute their knowledge of company-specific processes directly and thus help to design, automate and transform digital workflows and other complex processes faster. Thus, citizen developers relieve the IT department, which allows it to focus on topics such as IT governance and more demanding programming tasks.
* Dan Johnson is Director of Product Marketing, Intelligent Automation at Kofax. As such, he is responsible for worldwide product positioning, sales and partner enablement as well as the go-to-market strategy for Kofax’s Intelligent Automation platform. Dan Johnson thus accompanies the entire process of transforming data-intensive business activities. Prior to joining Kofax, Dan Johnson held similar positions at Alcatel-Lucent, Nitel, Nokia and Revenera. He completed his business administration studies with a focus on marketing at the Keller Graduate School of Management of DeVry University with a Master of Business Administration, Marketing. He also holds a Bachelor of Science, Marketing and Economics degree from Elmhurst University.