When it comes to the main challenges in application development to support and automate business processes, it would include understanding customer needs and requirements, high costs and limited availability of IT professionals, and changing business conditions.
As a result, the solution may be the no-code/low-code platforms, which are a kind of bridge between the “IT world” and the “business world” and allow people without IT expertise to model and build business applications.
Digital transformation challenges
The digital transformation, which has been going on for a dozen or so years now, is quite a challenge for both application developers and users. Increasingly, we use flexible universal platforms to adapt to changing business conditions. Meanwhile, low-code and no-code tools are used to simplify the process of final application development.
But what are they, and why does using them bring measurable results?
Let’s use an example and imagine using structures from a popular large furniture store.
You don’t need carpentry skills to arrange your apartment. All you need is to be able to use some elementary tools such as a hammer or a screwdriver. The manufacturer gives us all components that we can freely combine and build ready-made furniture sets out of them. What we create is not limited by our skills, only our imagination.
Low-code and no-code platforms
The same is with application development using low-code and no-code solutions. The vendor provides us with a set of configurable components, which we connect using the basic knowledge of computers. This way, we build a complete application to manage our business. By using the drag-and-drop method to move individual elements, we can build a form for data input. Moreover, a user-friendly visual editor for report configuration allows us for the instant presentation of the key data. Finally, knowing how our company works and what its business processes look like, we can model them in the system using the well-known BPMN diagram.
What is important, applications designed for managing business processes in our company can be built by people who do not have advanced technical knowledge but have thorough business expertise. Software developed in this way will more accurately meet our needs. However, if it doesn’t, the cost of modifying and adjusting the software in subsequent iterations will be much lower than in the case of hiring IT specialists each time.
So, using low-code/no-code platforms, we cannot merely effortlessly develop applications but also adapt them to changing requirements.
Principles of application development
Niklaus Wirth, a Swiss electronics engineer and computer scientist, who had a significant impact on modern computer science, is the author of the book entitled “Algorithms + Data Structures = Programs”, which every student that starts their computer science studies has encountered. Let’s consider the meaning of the title of a book written in the 70s of the past century. It states that if we have appropriate sets of data which we can manage, i.e., filter, sort, aggregate, combine, etc. (data structures), and appropriate tools and ideas for the processing of this data (algorithms), we can finally develop applications (programs).
How does this “Wirth equation” relate to low-code/no-code platforms?
Of course, as I already mentioned, the idea of building applications simultaneously using them is similar. So, we have structures storing data and algorithms, i.e., tools allowing for modeling business processes. Therefore, application development using the low-code platform should be treated as software development using high-level languages. And the “language” in this case is putting together appropriate components offered by the low-code platform.
We have to remember the basic principles while doing this so that the applications are optimal both in use and maintenance. Even if we build applications without code, let’s apply the DRY (Don’t Repeat Yourself) rule. The identification of repeated fragments, dividing them into different modules, and using parts by referring to them will save our time. It also allows us to avoid many mistakes and keep order and readability of the solution.
The other element that a developer must take care of is application security. They should know who and what data can be viewed, modified, added, or deleted. The no-code platform can only provide tools to build permission mesh, but the author of the application is responsible for its accuracy, consistency, and compliance.
NAVIGATOR as a no-code platform
Let’s imagine a company employing a dozen or so people. Certainly, it is difficult to manage it “manually”, but establishing complex departments is financially unprofitable.
NAVIGATOR platform enabling to build applications in no-code/low-code technologies is a solution for such cases.
Let’s start with the simplest process – leave application submission. Here you can use a pre-built application. If you want to extend it with your own acceptance rules or customize the leave application form, you can do it yourself using simple low-code tools.
Using the NAVIGATOR platform, we can also build an entire employee recruitment system.
First, we create an online form for candidates and publish it on our website. With simple logical conditions, we can adjust the form to our requirements, e.g., for executive positions, we can collect more data about the candidate than for regular vacancies. We can also easily adapt it to our corporate identity, using the appropriate color scheme or placing our company logo on it.
By modeling the process, we can design the whole online recruitment process starting from the receiving candidates’ CV, through its assessment, interview, up to employment, or feedback in case of rejection. To make our work easier, we can use supporting actions during the process, e.g., automated e-mail notifications, reminders about the deadline, or integration with social media such as LinkedIn.
It is only a small part of the NAVIGATOR platform possibilities. Thanks to it, we can use both no-code and low-code tools in a flexible way to build applications adjusted to our needs. Similarly, as in the case of the mentioned furniture systems – only our imagination can limit us!
Graduate from AGH University of Science and Technology. Has over 12 years of experience working as a Back-end Developer and Scrum Master. Has been working with Archman since 2018 as a Production Department Leader: a team developing a system for creating no-code/ low-code applications. Shares his knowledge and experience as a lecturer at the College of Economics And Computer Science in Cracow and coach at WSEI Programming School. He is an advocate of the agile approach in the process of creating software; instilling in people Agile thinking.