It is becoming increasingly common to hear that companies have to find a way to bring 'business' and 'IT departments' together. After all, it is in particular through the use of innovative software and mobile applications that valuable competitive advantages can be gained and retained. And this is where an 'agile' approach comes in, which in the light of the current global situation becomes more important than ever before.
Agile has shaped tools such as low-code application development platforms, making it possible to develop app releases in correspondingly short cycles. The resulting flexibility enables IT teams to adapt quickly to changing business conditions. According to a recent study by Forrester Research, the low-code market is growing by almost 40%, as it is helping companies reduce the time needed to develop, test, and deploy the solutions they need. Thus it becomes clear that companies that rely on low-code have greater organizational agility than those that do not use a low-code approach at all.
So what opportunities can companies harness from this approach? And what are the obstacles in the way of achieving this value?
Agile requires a different approach
Agility is not a method that can simply be introduced into a company without changing processes and expectations. With methods such as Gantt or waterfall, tasks are processed one after the other in rigid sequences. With these methods, once a task is completed, the teams involved devote themselves to the next one. Small delays are enough to disrupt the plan, which then continue until the end of the project, as experience shows. In the day-to-day operations of an IT team, this means that applications cannot simply be developed from one day to the next, nor can they be created for functional departments in a short time.
Agile working operates differently and, above all, cross-functionally. Instead of a very detailed planning process, many tasks and challenges are tackled simultaneously. To succeed in this, a clearly defined goal is needed. Teams, whether in business departments, management, or in IT itself, approach solutions together in many small steps. They divide a broad goal into many smaller, manageable objectives. This makes it easier to react to changing conditions and adapt more easily. As more people with different professional perspectives work together, the more innovative the solutions can be.
But in order to benefit from all these perspectives, transparency is essential. You need the right software that can manage such an agile approach and make this process visible to everyone. With a roadmap clearly mapped out on the development platform, several applications can be developed in the shortest possible time, thus creating an overview of the desired goals — visible to everyone involved, business or IT alike. Shorter development cycles allow for a higher rate of feedback, which in turn leads to higher quality applications with increased user acceptance. This virtuous circle requires a high level of commitment from all parties involved, which is only possible by breaking down existing internal barriers.
Removing internal barriers
Rapid application platforms reverse the traditional IT model. Instead of developers determining how an application should look by themselves, line management can now become an active part of the process. Much of what used to be set up in Excel spreadsheets or clipboard checklists can now be edited using cloud-based software. The main advantage here is the visual access to elements of their application development environment. Because it is more transparent and easier to use, frontline managers and other non-technical individuals can configure front-end and basic functions themselves, such as creating their own interfaces, designs, and functions. Instead of explaining to developers what they want, they can show them. This eliminates the need to manually code everything. This speeds up development and improves the overall quality.
In essence, low-code platforms deliver on the promises of IT-business alignment made by the agile software movement over a decade ago. But instead of just integrating software development into the rest of the enterprise, they allow the rest of the company to be part of the software and application development. An important factor for a CIO's strategic consideration is to change the entire organization over the long term to cross-functional, agile teams and to break up existing structural silos.
Agility increases cooperation
No-code / low-code platforms make it easier for technical and non-technical team members to collaborate in real-time, shorten the development cycle, and reduce costs. This allows the QA tester to provide feedback, the developer to make the changes, and the changes to be tested in real-time instead of getting lost on the time-consuming process of identifying, documenting, prioritizing, fixing, and retesting bugs. Rapid application development platforms typically allow users and developers to view an application together and discuss the changes with each other in real time. This requires a rethinking of working methods, but if agile methods are consistently implemented, it leads to a considerable reduction in cycle times and wasted efforts. Experience shows that the return on investment (ROI) of agile approaches often shows after only a few months.
Agility is not a method that can simply be introduced into a company but needs to be understood as a cross-functional process. Using the right software helps bring visibility to all areas of the project and allows us to manage them accordingly. Low-code platforms break down internal barriers and empower everyone at a company, from IT to business, to become involved in the entire software and application development lifecycle, thus ensuring a holistic development approach.