In part 1 of this series, we reviewed why digital transformation is so challenging for many IT organizations. We concluded that CIOs need to focus on four priorities to overcome those challenges:

  • Enable innovation 
  • Improve agile adoption
  • Achieve a DevOps advantage 
  • Re-skill, recruit, and retain developers

We also covered how low-code can enable innovation. In part 2, we looked at how low-code can improve agile adoption, and in part 3 we explored how low-code enables organizations to achieve a DevOps advantage. In this, the fourth and final article in the series, you’ll learn how low-code can address developer resource issues.

The Developer “Skills Drought”

According to reported projections from US Department of Labor, there will be an estimated 1 million more computing jobs than applicants who can fill them by 2020. 

Our recent State of Application Development survey suggests this is a worldwide problem, with 80% of respondents describing app dev talent as scarce, with hiring taking longer and costing more.


Views on the Developer Recruitment Market


According to the same research, and as shown in the following chart, the level of demand for application development seems higher than ever. Focusing on organizations with 500 or more employees, we found 42% have 10 or more apps planned for delivery in 2018. Twenty-one percent have 25 or more apps planned in 2018.


Application Planned for Development 


If organizations are to escape the double-whammy of unprecedented demand and scarcity of talent, they need to take a multi-faceted resourcing approach. Just hiring more developers may prove impossible and could break the bank.

A Citizen Development Reality Check

However, just because IT is having a hard time hiring developers, it does not mean it is time to hand the reins to so-called citizen developers. In previous articles, I’ve bemoaned the paucity of advice from both analysts and vendors that frankly should know better.

Low-code is often characterized as a benign virus, that will simply spread across an organization and magically equip non-techies to build what they want. “Hey-presto!” your app dev backlog is obliterated. I’m sorry -

"Start small, achieve a success, and wait for the magic to happen…"

- really doesn’t cut it as a success plan for low-code.

I don’t believe “citizen developers” will significantly move the dial when it comes to digital transformation, as I argued in “Who's Left Holding the Reins?” See if you agree with my definition of digital transformation and the five questions I’ve proposed should be asked before handing the reins to “citizen-devs.”

The nub of my argument is that unless IT is in the game from the start, citizen development will lack the guide rails and governance needed for scalable, sustainable success. The result will likely be yet more complexity that has IT chasing its tail, especially when the citizen developers concerned have moved-on to pastures new, or want to hand-off their creation to someone who has the time to update it.

“Who’s left holding the reins?” was, of course, a rhetorical question.

Low-Code to the Rescue in the Digital Skills Drought

With IT at the helm and appropriate governance in place, low-code can help organizations overcome the developer skills shortage. Here’s how.

  • Increase productivity: As already argued, it’s reasonable to expect low-code to be between four to ten times faster than hand-coding. For the projects to which low-code is suited, achieving just a 4x productivity increase will be faster with low-code than hiring or training more developers.
  • Retrain legacy developers: In many large IT departments there are multiple experienced developers supporting legacy systems, and as these systems retire, the associated staff will either need retraining or redeploying. Instead of losing such valuable business knowledge from the organization, such developers can quickly be retrained to build web and mobile applications with low-code. This case study from Wealth Management company IOOF, tells exactly this story.
  • Expand your developer pool: Low-code lowers the bar, meaning a wide array of roles can be cross-trained to build secure and scalable web and mobile apps, under the supervision of IT. Business analysts, process professionals, QA and test engineers and business super users are great candidates; they can quickly and cost-effectively be trained to use a low-code development platform.
  • Shorten ramp-up time: Multiple case studies describe how graduate junior-developers can be hired and quickly made productive with the built-in guide rails and development standards provided by a low-code development platform. Here’s a FinTech case study that illustrates how two newly hired computer science graduates built a loan origination system in just five months.

The Evidence That Low-Code Helps Overcome the Digital Skills Drought

Returning to our State of Application Development Survey mentioned earlier: 34% of the 3,500 respondents said they were using a low-code platform already.

According to the opinions provided by those respondents, low-code is making a significant difference to their digital transformation efforts. Here’s a quick summary of the advantages they told us they are experiencing.

Compared to those who are not, respondents who are using low-code are:

  • 21% more likely to describe their organization as happy or somewhat happy with the speed of application development
  • 15% more likely to deliver applications in four months or less
  • Less than half as likely to report app delivery times of 12 months or more
  • 15% more likely to describe their agile maturity as level 3, 4 or 5
  • 10% more likely to describe their DevOps maturity as level 3, 4 or 5
  • Nearly three times more likely to say they have no app dev backlog
  • Two-and-a-half times less likely to have a backlog of over ten applications waiting for development
  • Three times more likely to describe citizen development as tightly governed

9% of the survey respondents who were not already using low-code said they’d be starting soon. If that’s also true for you, the start could be just one click away.

You can fire up your own personal instance of OutSystems on the cloud today for free. Then use our extensive 40+ hour online training curriculum to master the platform. Oh, by the way, that training is free as well.


Whether your CEO is “in a mood to work on changing the deeper engine of the business,” or you simply want to get more digital innovation done without “driving IT harder,” hopefully this four-article series has thrown some fresh light on how low-code or hpaPaaS can help you.

Please let me know what did you think? Are these your top IT priorities? What would you have included instead?

  • Enable more innovation and cope better with uncertainty
  • More fully and successfully adopt agile
  • Use DevOps practices to achieve continuous delivery
  • Re-skill, recruit and retain required digital development resources

I look forward to hearing your views.