No-code application development tools enable non-technical employees in your lines of business (LoBs) to quickly and easily create forms, workflows and applications. By augmenting traditional development approaches, no-code app builders are empowering organizations to rapidly and cost-effectively achieve digital transformation.
In fact, “increased demand for … digital transformation has sparked the emergence of citizen developers outside of IT,” Gartner reports. Today, 41% of non-IT employees customize or build data or technology solutions, the analyst firm says.
But your citizen developers probably aren’t experienced in planning and executing application development projects. To benefit the most from no-code, follow these best-practice steps:
1. Understand business goals
Start by identifying the business benefit you want to achieve from no-code. That could be allowing internal or external customers to complete an online form. It might be streamlining a particular workflow within a team or department. Or it could be enabling a process that extends across multiple business functions. You can leverage no-code to optimize a broad range of processes, from creating new customer accounts, to handling budget requests and approvals, to integrating remote sites.
But to achieve success, you first need to be clear about your objectives. That includes establishing simple metrics, like number of workflow steps automated, speed of data inputs, or number of customers served.
2. Determine application requirements
Once you know your goals, you can identify the functionality the no-code application must provide. For instance, if you’re building a workflow, do all steps remain within a single team, or do they extend across multiple departments? If the project involves a broad process flow, you might need input from all stakeholders who will use it.
Similarly, if you’re creating an online form, should data inputs be automatically entered into corporate systems? If so, you’ll need the necessary integrations. An effective no-code tool will enable integration through APIs or web services, all without coding.
3. Select the right no-code solution
No-code app builders come in a lot of flavors. Some are complex platforms that provide “low-code” application development that requires coding knowledge. Others are only designed to create mobile apps for use on iOS or Android.
A no-code tool that’s useful for LoB employees should effectively enable web forms, web apps, mobile web apps, workflow apps, or business process management. Look for a no-code provider that can support all these use cases with either a single solution or a portfolio of targeted, easy-to-use tools.
4. Assign roles and responsibilities
No-code applications can be created by a single employee or a few employees, but if an application will be used day-to-day by an entire department, you need to be sure the citizen developers understand the requirements to deliver applications that meet the department’s needs and objectives.
In that case, consider getting multiple people involved in the application development process. Some stakeholders might have input into desired features. Others might create the actual application. Still others might try out the application and provide feedback before it’s deployed. Just be sure all participants understand how they contribute to the project’s success.
5. Manage the project
No-code tools are so easy to use, many users might approach application creation in an ad-hoc manner. But to get the results you want you’ll benefit from a more structured mindset.
Make a list of the features you identified in Step 2 and check them off as you build them into the application. Set interim milestones and final deadlines to keep the project on target. Monitor stakeholder involvement to be sure everyone’s doing their part. Your no-code project management doesn’t have to be complicated, but you need enough oversight to track your progress and keep the project moving forward.
6. Measure the results
An effective no-code app builder should give you visibility into the process you’ve created. This is where the metrics you created in Step 1 will show their value. If you’re achieving your performance goals, you know your deliberate approach to no-code development is paying off. If you’re falling short of targets, it’s time to identify ways to improve.
Go back over the application. Are form fields unclear, making it hard for users to complete the form? Are workflow outputs not giving you the data you need? Are the wrong people getting alerts for workflow reviews and approvals? If people aren’t using the application, is that because it doesn’t integrate well with other processes? Finding the root cause will point you to the solution.
7. Continually improve
The good news is that with a no-code tool, you can quickly and easily make improvements to your application. That’s valuable even if your application is performing at a high level today.
After all, business requirements evolve over time. Customers have changing demands. A new team might need to be incorporated into an existing workflow. You might replace a core system, requiring new application integrations. No-code gives you the capabilities to make these adjustments quickly and painlessly.
No-code/low-code (NCLC) will produce 70% of new applications by 2025, according to Gartner. The emergence of NCLC is nothing short of a “revolution,” Accenture says, one that will drive an “explosion of user-generated innovation.” By following these steps for planning and executing your no-code project, you can be sure your organization is benefiting from employee-driven, no-code-enabled innovation and digital transformation.