The City of Shawnee has only one application developer on staff. But with OutSystems, that’s all it takes to mobilize legacy apps, rethink workflow to save time and money, and provide valuable work experience opportunities for local college students.
"We’ve got a small team that needs to get a lot done. OutSystems helps us stay agile and rethink our legacy apps for the mobile age, so we can improve the experience we offer our users and the services we offer our citizens."
A Massive Task For a (Very) Small Team
Challenge - The City of Shawnee in Kansas employs around 350 people to serve its citizens, including a 12-strong IT team (with one application developer) that looks after the infrastructure and apps that keep the city running.
Over the last 20 years, the city has relied on dozens of apps built in Lotus Notes. There was a time when Lotus Notes was the last word in rapid application development, but Shawnee’s IT team could see it had reached the end of its useful life. The team needed to re-platform the legacy apps while retaining their rapid development capabilities, so they began to evaluate low-code vendors.
“We wanted to maintain our fast pace of development and add new web and mobile development capabilities without increasing application developer headcount,” says Mel Bunting, IT Director at the City of Shawnee. “We chose OutSystems because it provided everything we needed straight out of the box, giving us native web and mobile app development capabilities and supporting our Agile methodology.”
Teaching Old Apps New Tricks
Solution - Shifting dozens of apps to a new platform and adding new functionality with just one developer isn't an overnight process. However, after just one year, the city now has 30 production apps on the platform. Users get modern mobile experiences, and the team has also optimized workflows and built new process efficiencies into the apps.
Take the city’s new asset management app, for example. What started out as a simple maintenance request app has grown in scope over time, but with OutSystems, each new capability the team has added to the app has taken around 3-5 weeks of development time.
Alex Popp, the team’s application developer, says one of the biggest advantages of OutSystems is how easy it is to handle change requests. “Rapid prototyping and one-click deployment mean we can be really agile in how we meet the changing needs of our internal and external users,” Alex says.
The city is also replacing paper-based processes with online, mobile alternatives, including a new app that enables citizens to apply online for permits to burn garden waste—an app that took Alex just two weeks to develop.
OutSystems has also helped the city build up the skills and experience of its future workforce. The IT department has started a partnership with a local community college, and of the seven interns who’ve been through the program over the last year, three have been taken on by the city as apprentices, assisting with OutSystems development.
The apprentices have already created several production apps in OutSystems, including an employee wellness app—a fitness goal and points tracker for staff participating in free wellness activities and events.