Today’s application development teams confront a variety of challenges that the COVID-19 pandemic has only multiplied. Tasked to meet the demands of a rapidly transforming and increasingly competitive business environment, overwhelmed app development teams are scrambling to digitize formerly face-to-face interactions. As IT’s backlog and lead times grow, frustrated business leaders either try to do without the essential tools they need to compete or take matters into their own hands and develop their solutions independently of IT.

Neither of these outcomes is desirable. Trying to get along without an essential enterprise-grade application can hurt business and give more agile competitors an edge. A “DIY” application created by business users, no matter how tech-savvy they might be, might not fully address non-functional requirements such as security, reliability, performance, and scalability. Worse, the application may not be able to integrate with all enterprise data sources.

There is a better alternative. The right application development platform can enable multi-disciplinary teams consisting of business and IT to collaborate on the development of applications quickly and efficiently. This cross-functional development approach delivers the whole-team collaboration that enables organizations to capitalize successfully on developer knowledge and business expertise.

Maximize Diverse Expertise on Cross-Functional Teams

By pulling experts from business and IT to collaborate on cross-functional projects that deliver new applications, organizations can maximize the diverse knowledge and skills they possess. Gartner has dubbed this union of business and IT expertise “fusion teams” and predicts that it will be essential to facilitating agile responses to future business disruptions.

When collaborating with business stakeholders to build essential apps quickly, developers need a platform that enables them to build complete software solutions efficiently. Currently, however, many IT teams rely on tools that are ad hoc, require deep coding or full-stack development skills, and involve steep learning curves. These barriers exclude business experts and even junior developers from making meaningful contributions to application development. An approach that includes automation, AI, and visual development, rather than code, frameworks, and libraries, can empower whole-team application development.

Whole-Team Collaboration With a Modern Application Platform

Making app development easily accessible to subject matter experts facilitates collaboration and helps prevent negative outcomes. A modern app development solution can give business experts and IT teams the tools they need to build essential apps rapidly. However, choosing the right app dev platform is critical to success.

To maximize the potential of whole-team collaboration, look for a modern application development platform that has these key capabilities.

1. Visual Solutions that Empower Business Experts

App dev solutions that visually map business processes can simplify the complexity of traditional app development. Visual modeling allows business people with no coding experience to tap into their subject matter expertise and create the application workflows they need.

Enabling business experts to collaborate on mission-critical apps with IT has multiple benefits. Line-of-business productivity improves, the IT backlog and lead times shrink, and valuable IT resources are freed up to tackle more complex tasks.

Using OutSystems Workflow Builder for example, domain experts can visually map complex business processes and automatically create high-performance, workflow-based applications for internal use-cases. For customer-facing use-cases, OutSystems Experience Builder enables the rapid prototyping of attractive, user-friendly mobile applications that leverage common patterns and flows.

2. Tools that Expand Developer Capabilities

To maximize the power of whole-team collaboration, look for an app development platform that not only expands the capabilities of businesspeople but also enhances developers’ capabilities. For example, a modern app dev platform that simplifies incorporating artificial intelligence into applications lets developers accomplish more without having to enlist data scientists. Integration tools that streamline configuration with third-party systems ensure that integrations are easy for any developer to implement, while also secure and scalable.

3. An Integrated, Full-Stack Application Development Platform

Some application development solutions are designed to help business people build their own software solutions. But tools that focus solely on simplifying the complexity of app development are missing a key part of the equation. Applications created by non-developers should use standard architectures and frameworks so that experienced developers can adjust and extend them without any re-architecting. To get the most from low-code and no-code features that are easy for line-of-business developers (sometimes referred to as citizen developers) to use, they should be integrated into a full-stack application development platform.

With OutSystems, for instance, all output from Builders is technically proficient and seamlessly integrates into the full-stack developer platform. This ensures quick and efficient whole-team collaboration, while still giving developers the ability to extend applications that were started by non-developers with the expressiveness and flexibility of traditional coding.

4. IT-Governed Development

When business experts circumvent IT to build their own apps, the resulting applications may be poorly designed, insecure, and unsupportable. To bring shadow IT into the light, choose a modern app development platform that facilitates IT governance while providing the tools that facilitate whole team collaboration.

Look for a solution that lets IT managers design their own governance models and remain in full control of administering IT assets. The platform should also offer robust user authorization features to ensure that business contributors stay in their lanes. Finally, app dev tools for every job function should be provided so business people can build apps for their specific needs, but IT can be confident builds are kept under architectural control.

Creating Value Through Diversity

Traditional app development has been focused on those who can write code. In today’s rapidly changing business environment, however, that approach can slow app development and hamstring organizations. The most effective businesses draw from the wealth of knowledge available across the organization to enhance the application development process. Forward-thinking companies recognize that IT can create more value by bringing diverse insights and expertise together to develop new applications.

The right app development platform is essential to successful whole-team collaboration. A modern app development platform can empower business experts to create apps under the governance of IT. Armed with such a solution, your organization can make development available to everyone, unleash the knowledge of business experts, and maximize results from whole-team collaboration.   

To learn more about how diverse teams can collaborate on applications with superior speed and efficiency, check out our recent Tech Talk - The Modern Dev Team: Collaborating to Quickly Build Great Apps