Questions to Ask When Choosing a Low-Code/No-Code Platform
A helpful checklist
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Current and future app creation is and will be driven by low-code/no-code development platforms (LCDP). Organizations moving forward with low-code development are doing so because they have investigated and understood the benefits. The list of benefits is substantial, from agility to lower development costs to decreased time to market to increased sales and market share. How does a company choose which LCDP for future app development?
If a company is seeking a new ERP application, they first create a Request for Proposal, sometimes called a Request for Quote. The RFP is filled with information about application content requirements followed by questions focusing on the supplier and the features offered by their unique applications. The questions center on how the provider's solution matches the customer’s requirements; about the proposed new application's cost plus the support and modification costs; the functions and unique features the solution will provide; it asks about the user interface along with whether the new application will allow for the integration of legacy programming code and data; the buyer wants to know what technologies are used and tons more. I have yet to see an RFP for the selection of a LCDP provider.
In my opinion, an RFP for the selection of a LCDP should focus on the features/functions that make it easy and fast for the development and deployment of apps.
If you are looking to join the LCDP revolution and do not know where to start, start by investigating what features and functions the LCDP vendor's platform provides. The process could go something like this - find a boilerplate RFP on the web; choose the feature/functions in the list below that are important for your organization, add it to the boilerplate; do not forget about costs and send it to a bunch of LCDP providers:
- The platform should allow for development via drag and drop, point and click and option select
- Does it provide an app growth path – allow for starting with a small number of users and be able to grow to thousands without changes to the app?
- Can the company use existing in-house personnel and skills (citizen developers as well as IT professionals)?
- When required, can an app read and write to multiple databases?
- Will an app take into account the "culture" of the mobile and desktop devices? For example, an Android display is different than an iOS display is different from a Windows display. Will the development platform allow the developer to “overwrite” a device’s culture?
- Does the development platform provide APIs to the various popular packages such as Salesforce?
- Can the LCDP create a single UI design that works for all devices and will dynamically adapt based upon the device real estate and operating environment (Android, iOS, Linux, Windows)?
- Will the platform allow develop once, deploy everywhere for mobile, web, and desktop apps that will run on all platforms and devices for all operating environments (Android, iOS, Windows, Unix…), or do you have to create an app for desktop that is different than for mobile, etc.?
- Will the created app support ALM (Application Lifecycle Management) and Mobile Process Lifetime Management (PLM)?
- Since everything relates to data, will the LCDP provide for the:
- Mapping, entity, and classification modelling for legacy databases
- Immediate data synchronization between devices
- Offline data support when out of network contact and resynchronization with a central data store and other remote devices when reconnected to WIFI/4G/5G?
- Will the LCDP create industry-standard code as opposed to a proprietary language code set?
- Can the developer choose deployment on cloud or in-house or both or is the developer locked into the vendor's cloud?
- How easy is the LCDP to learn, is there continuing education?
- Does the platform allow the developer to integrate standardized technologies and 3rd party components as well as custom code?
- Can the developer design once and deploy as native, hybrid, and/or web apps?
- Will the platform allow for cooperative team development?
- Is the app source code available to the developer?
- Is there standard deployment of apps – IIS, ASP.NET, etc.?
- Can the created apps be placed into the Apple Store, Google Play, Microsoft Store?
- Can a developer incorporate standard component libraries, for example – jQuery, ASP.NET, MVC, Knockout, etc.?
- Can the newly created app include existing back-end legacy code?
- Does the platform allow design to a single pixel? – not recommended
- Does the development begins with a design > business processes or is it business processes > design?
- Can RESTful Web Services be integrated?
- How easy is it to include chatbots, signature panels, etc.?
- Can a developer enhance, maintain and add custom content without having to reapply to each operating environment each time?
- Can the platform incorporate the native features of the target devices; for example, a camera, a GPS?
- What levels of security will the created apps provide?
- Will a single design allow for adaptive and reactive functions?
- Is there a developer community?
- Does the platform provide for WSIWYG Development?
- Is there an abundance of wizards/forms/templates?
- What are the costs (if any) for training and support?
- Is there both online and video documentation?
- Add your company’s specific requirements
Some things that are nice to have but apply to a limited number of app development projects:
- Will development include 360-degree imaging? Will it allow for image hotspots?
- Can the developer add videos? Will it allow for video hotspots?
- Will an app allow printing from mobile and desktop devices?
- Can the app upload and download files/images?
- Is there integrated email?
- Does the platform allow for the integration of webservices such as Google maps, AI and IoT?
- Is there a provision for targeted markets, for example, retail and the required:
- Shopping carts
- Payment options
- Card displays?
- There are international organizations that want to create apps once and deploy them to multiple countries. Will the platform allow for:
- Conversion of an app for UI presentation into other languages
- Date and currency display based upon the user culture?
The preceding is not an all-inclusive list but should give the decision-makers insight into their development requirements. Every low-code vendor offers a combination of the above and of course, some provide more than others. And there are over 100 providers in the low-code world, add the 100+ providers of no-code offerings and that leads to buyer/subscriber confusion.
If you are looking for a low-code/no-code solution but do not know where to start you can begin with market research firms such as Forrester, Gartner, Intellyx, others for guidance.
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