If your organization is like most, the laundry list of items on your digital transformation slate is long and daunting. If you believe low-code offers an interesting opportunity for checking projects off this list and are going down that path, you might have some questions.
What’s your first step? Do you take on the customer portal that will offer self-service to thousands of insurance policyholders or do you address your manual process for scheduling service calls? Fortunately, you don’t have to figure it out blindly. I’m going to clue you into how you can choose your first low-code project.
It all starts with a better understanding of all the things low-code can address, looking at your digital transformation strategy, and identifying where each of your projects falls.
Step 1: Get to Know the Three Low-Code Use Cases
Over the years, our customers have come to us with all kinds of problems. However, when we considered them in aggregate and thought about the solutions they built, we realized that these projects fall into three distinct use cases for low-code: digital operations, digital experiences, and digital core.
The digital operations use case covers the transformation of applications that support internal business operations. The typical solutions are composite applications, dashboards, workflows, internal web portals, mobile applications for the front-office or field, and small-to-medium-sized database apps.
The requirements of such a project include:
- Rapid development of mobile and web responsive apps
- Simple development of forms and workflows
- Fast integration with existing systems of record
- Rapid change and deployment
- Built-in productivity insights and dashboards for managers
Organizations who used low-code for digital operations apps say that it’s easy to complete business activities anytime, anywhere. They report faster business response times and more employee engagement in business processes. Systems, applications, and processes are more widely adopted across the organization, and IT operations costs are lower.
This use case focuses on what customers experience digitally. The typical solutions are mobile apps for customers and consumers and web portals. The capabilities required for these types of solutions are:
- Rapid prototyping and development
- Pixel-perfect design
- Security, including for offline data
Companies who have built digital experiences with low-code report that users say it’s easy to complete transactions anytime, anywhere, and that the experiences are engaging and simple to use. Other companies say business partner engagement is easy. All of them praise the consistent user experience across all devices and touchpoints, the faster IT delivery times, and accelerated updates to customer experiences.
This use case addresses the mission-critical systems that run your business. Examples include ERP, terminal management, and clinical trial management systems. Such systems have many of the same requirements as those for digital operations or digital experiences but with an emphasis on massive scalability, high-levels of security, and the flexibility that enables easy change.
The advantages of tackling digital core systems with low-code include:
- Complete business redesign for accelerated growth and efficiency
- Greater business continuity because of increased quality and stability of systems
- Evolution of the business as market conditions change through future-proof design
- Increased business and IT engagement and satisfaction because of increased productivity and collaboration
Step 2: Map Your Projects or Problems to the Use Cases
Now that you know the use cases, think about the problems you’re having and which use case might address each one. Are your issues related to systems that have been cobbled together and rely on manual effort, email, spreadsheets, and so forth? Then, you’re most likely looking at a digital operations project.
Do you need a mobile app or portal with a fabulous UX that will delight your customers? Or do you need an app for employees and partners that behaves like a consumer app? If so, the project is probably in line with digital experiences.
Or, are you trying to figure out how to deal with a core system that is a combination of aging systems and highly customized packages and is struggling to keep up with the demands of your business? Are you looking at a timeline that could be several years? All of this describes a situation that falls under digital core.
After you’ve determined which use cases address which problems or projects, you’re ready for the next step.
Step 3: Determine What Will Take the Least Amount of Time and Resources
From self-help books to management blogs, all kinds of sources advise that projects are best tackled when they’re either broken down into smaller parts or if you start with a small, easy task. Choosing your first low-code project is no different. Therefore, I suggest you stay away from making a digital core project your first, unless you’re in really desperate straits.
Start by searching your projects for one that addresses a real need, but is easy to solve with just a few resources. So many of our customers have gone this route with success. Credit Agricole Consumer Finance and Kent State University are two good examples. It all boils down to the fact that building a web or mobile application for a small group of users in a short amount of time makes a real and lasting impact on your digital transformation. More people will see the power of low-code, and you’ll have the foundation for moving on to bigger and bigger projects that solve your most critical problems.
So, if you have a project that aligns with the digital operations use case, it’s the first one you should consider. If you have more than one in this category, the smallest one is likely to be your best bet. Digital operations projects are great starting and learning points. These Internal applications have to meet the demands that will be put on them by the front-ends needed for digital experiences and the back-end integration of digital core. A development team of just three, using low-code, is typically able to deliver six new internal apps or major app releases in a year. It takes only 3-weeks to get this team up and running. These kinds of results build confidence in low-code and pave the way for subsequent projects.
Choosing a project that meets the criteria of a digital experience isn’t out of the question, though. Some of our customers have selected mobile apps for their customers as their first project and been successful, but it usually will take more people and resources and possibly more time. Your digital experience project should be as small as possible or be the kind of app that enables you to start with basic functions and add more features as you go.
Step 4: Get Started on Your Project
Now that you’ve got a project in mind, you’ll probably want to get buy-in from an executive sponsor and build your team. After that, all systems are go for a great first project. However, if you prefer not to go it alone or you feel you need more guidance, check out this playbook, which provides a framework for using low-code for digital operations and digital experiences.