No Code can be too fast for an organisation

Earlier this year, I was working with other entrepreneurs in a startup to develop a new service as fast as possible. The service included an application to support the service. We started very enthusiastically using WEM as platform because we could very fast develop the application. We wanted to demonstrate the application to prospect customer. And avoid having to find trustworthy developers and keep costs contained.

The enthusiasm and excitement grew with every new feature we developed

There were many created in a very short period. Due to the rapid evolution of the application, we were very quickly confident that we decided to deploy the application in trial mode for a number of prospects. The initial feedback was great and we were getting very, very close to signing up a first customer. We really were confident that we could make this work.

But then it went all downhill in a matter of weeks in a completely different area…

With a No Code platform you can build an application lightning fast. However, we also needed develop of the service itself which included among others the creation of a legal entity, define and agree roles and responsibilities, the creation of predefined content, start a knowledge base, define consulting services, and the staffing the required support.

We tried to do the organisational development at the same speed

This meant we were doing many of those service components and the organisational development in parallel in a matter of months. With an application ready to be used and a first customer lined up it was really important to be able to deliver.

It was crunch time. There were a lot of tasks that were started but not finished. Decisions had to be made quickly. People had to be assigned to roles within the project team for the first customer. Individuals had to step into their agreed roles and deliver on promise. Unfortunately, it did not work. There was simply put not enough commitment from some of the people involved…

We made the tough decision to stop almost as quickly as we decided to start

The main lesson for me was that you can save a lot of time by using No Code. However this does not mean that organisational, people and process development can keep up. It actually will reveal very fast and painfully whether your assumptions are correct. In traditional projects this need for speed is often obfuscated because the application development takes much more time and therefore there is more lead time to deal with this.

This blow was written by me for webbit21

Digital Transformation benefits from No Code

Your organisation is going through a digital transformation programme. This has its ups and downs while trying to deliver according to expectations. Digital transformation programmes are essentially change programmes that need to cope with resource shortages, organisational resistance, process reengineering and technology changes.

A major difference with a traditional change programme is that digital transformation programmes aim to introduce digital capabilities into all parts of your organisation. Digital capabilities mean more and more technology is used. Technology to replace non-digital capabilities, such as paper forms and document. Technology to do things that you could not do in the past, by using chatbots for customer interaction or artificial intelligence to recognise issues with your product earlier. Technology that enables you to speed up existing processes significantly. Technology that replaces obsolete technology you already have, for example smart meters.

Another aspect that is part of a change programme is that you don’t know upfront exactly how you are going to implement the changes required. You need to be adaptable as you are venturing in new areas. Often there is little information about what to expect as this is new territory. As a result you will change processes many times until you get it right.

This means that the applications and IT infrastructure will also have to change many times.

In the area of infrastructure, cloud technology has made huge impact. It already provides a tremendous amount of flexibility to your organisation because you can easily scale up and down.

For application development there are a few options to be faster and especially more adaptable:

  1. Use agile methodologies to increase your adaptability of traditional software development. You only build what you need. You discover earlier if something is not working. The processes allow you to change your priorities quickly. It still requires you to build, test and maintain software.
  2. Use a Low Code platform to increase the speed with which software is developed. This is achieved by increasing the productivity of your developers. Many of the developer tasks are automated or the effort is reduced significantly.
  3. Use No Code platforms that completely eliminate all development tasks. You don’t need developers, software tester or application managers anymore. You focus on the functionality, the logic and user experience. the No Code platform takes care of the rest.

Speed of No Code

Although Low and No Code platforms are relatively unknown for many, they are very powerful platforms that have developed rapidly. These platforms are often used for prototyping but are more that capable of delivering scalable production-grade web applications and mobile apps. The advantage is that they provide the adaptability that your digital transformation requires.

When determining the digital capabilities for application development to support your digital transformation I recommend to look into Low and No code platforms next to using Agile methodologies.

See also Sander’s post “3 reasons why digital transformation has slowed down

This blog was written by me for webbit21

21 Reasons to start with No Code

No time, no budget, no resources. There are many excuses not to start something new. However, you might miss out on a great revolution that is starting. It could mean you miss out. We have compiled a list of 21 reasons why we think you should start with No Code.

  1. Test your business idea quickly with fully functioning apps and applications rather than with just a powerpoint or mock up
  2. You can spend way more time with your customers
  3. You spend time on delivering value fast
  4. Your customers can see new functionality directly
  5. You can impress users by delivering new functionality all day long… until your inspiration runs out
  6. You can redo your app / application entirely and still be faster than normal projects when you discover that it did not work
  7. You can scale up much quicker and reliably
  8. Save time and money on development costs
  9. You don’t have to rely on developers
  10. You don’t need project managers
  11. You spend no time on fixing technology bugs
  12. You spend no time on technical tests because security and performance was part of the design
  13. You spend less time on maintenance of apps / applications
  14. You don’t need to spend many many hours to learn to program software and master infrastructure
  15. Get satisfaction from creating a new app / application yourself within hours or days
  16. Learn something new without spending 10.000 hours
  17. Meet new people
  18. Be part of something new
  19. You are fed up with having to fix that magic excel sheet you created years ago
  20. You are fed up with people with great ideas being limited because they don’t get the funding or resources assigned
  21. You are on a tight budget

What do you think? Do you have other reasons to start with No Code? Let us know in the comments.

This blog was written by me for webbit21

Save money over and over again

After many months of pitching your idea to your management, you get approval and money to go ahead to develop the application. This is just the start of your journey to realise your vision.

You first have to select a reliable party to support you. Then it takes weeks of discussions and frustrating negotiations until the contract is signed. Again, a couple of weeks later the project finally starts with a series of workshops to establish personas, customer journeys and user stories. Next there are several user experience design workshops resulting in mockups. In parallel the development team is formed, brought up to speed and the development environments are setup. The costs already are starting to add up even before the real development starts.

During the development you discover that the translation of your vision to the actual product things is regularly off the mark. Also, you yourself have to adjust your requirements because what you envisioned does not work perfectly when you test it.

This means that every sprint review there are new things added to the backlog. Functionality that was already developed is changed or even scrapped. When the first test/beta users started using your application there are even more items added. But now finally you have a first working version into a production mode so the user group can be extended.

This happens more often than not. The reason for this is that when persons actually use an application in real life situations, the real learning and the actual work only starts. Getting to this point may cost you less than in a traditional setting but it still costs you quite a bit of money.

Would it not be great if you get instant feedback about your ideas from real users within days of starting the project. Ideally without spending any or very little out of pocket money. A pipe dream you say…

Not with No Code platforms. You can save a huge amount of the time that you spend on finding a partner, getting contracts in place, on boarding the development team and getting your ideas translated into an actual application. Yes, the first time there is a learning curve for yourself. However once you gained a bit of experience this will pay off every time you have a similar need. Also as you don’t have to explain your requirements to developers you can setup the application exactly as you intended it.  The savings can be used to create other applications. Even if you hire a No Code consultant to bounce of your ideas or do some of the more complicated things, you will save money.

As seeing is believing, I suggest you set a side half a day to try it for yourself. Get a free subscription of a No Code platform, watch a tutorial and build your first app.

Accelerate validation of business ideas with No Code

With a No Code platform you accelerate validation of your new business ideas faster when you imagine a solution to a real problem. However to prove you solution is actually solving the problem you need to show the solution to potential customers. There are various ways to test your ideas for example create a video, like dropbox did,  to show how your solution might work. Or you might put a webpage online where you describe the solution to check if people are interested. In both cases you don’t actually create the solution without actually building it. When you want to test your idea’s viability these options, and others, are great ways.

Once you have established your idea has merit then want to go into the “Build” phase in the Lean Startup Methodology as depicted below.

Lean Startup Methodology with No Code

Build quicker

For the build phase No Code platforms can be great tools to build you Minimal Viable Product (MVP) fast and with limited costs. It can be much faster because:

  • You don’t have to hire or free up developers
  • You don’t have to explain your solution to those developers and/or adjust their understanding
  • You don’t have to organise infrastructure to deploy the solution
  • You can create multiple versions without much extra effort

By building the solution yourself, you can quickly start measuring the effectiveness of your solution in real life. And you learn from the real thing. No Code platforms also allow you to adjust the solution quickly based on each piece of feedback you receive. As a result of this you also can go faster through the cycle than with other development tools, allowing you to add more or different features as well to attract your ideal customer.

Reduce time to market

Use a No Code platform that allows you to deploy the scalable infrastructure. This allows your (potential) customers immediately use the solution themselves. And reduces the time to market with a first version that has more features than your MVP.

No / Low Code market recognition grows

No / Low Code market recognition grew significantly in the past few months. Of course there was already interest by the analysts but when investors and multinationals pay big bucks this really means that there are great expectations.

Outsystems received a 360 million dollar investment from KKR and Goldman Sachs in June. This puts its valuation at 1 B$ at the moment. This of course is great news for Outsystems users as there is more money to grow the company. There is also the risk that the new investors have put forward requirements towards the business model or direction. Investors are of course not charities but expect healthy returns on investments.

And Mendix was acquired by Siemens in July for 730 million dollar. Again I would expect this will accelerate the platforms development. Of course there is the risk that Siemens’ vision of the future dominates the Mendix roadmap or the interoperability with non-Siemens platforms.

For both platforms it seems logical that the focus will increasingly be on large accounts. For smaller companies that are current customers, these developments may not be the best news. Furthermore I would expect that the recognition of the potential of both platforms and organisations, will get large enterprise that have not started using no / low code platforms to seriously reconsider.

First meetup of No Code Community in NL

First MeetupOn July 9th we had our first No Code Community in NL meetup at Transcriptum. During this inaugural meetup there were different No Coders present. Some were completely new to No Code while others already were using No Code for multiple years. We had 2 special subjects prepared:

  • Skills to Succeed with No Code by Bertil Schaart from Webbit21
  • No Code platform selection by myself

There were a lot of interesting discussions and even talk about creating a No Code platform.

 

Resources for finding the right no code platforms

Search for resourcesThe market for no / low code platforms only has been recognised fairly recently. Also more and more vendors start using this for marketing purposes as well. This has resulted in a growing list of vendors and more choices for users. Use the following resources as a starting point:

  • G2Crowd is a review platform based on user reviews. G2Crowd distinguishes between no and low code platforms. This website contains the largest number of vendors of all resources I have encountered to date. Unfortunately many vendors only have limited number of reviews.
  • Gartner started in 2017 with publishing a separate High Productivity Application Platform as a Service (HPAPaaS) Magic Quadrant. In April 2018 a new version was published and evaluates 20 vendors. Gartner positions Salesforce, OutSystems, ServiceNow and Mendix as leaders.Typically you can get a ‘free’ copy from 1 or more of the leaders. Gartner also lists 13 honorable mentions of vendors. These are not discussed in detail within the report.
  • Forrester started in 2016 with publishing the Forrester Wave – Low-Code Development Platforms For AD&D Pros Report. The most recent version is from Q4 2017. The more recent report evaluates 13 vendors. Forrester considers Salesforce, OutSystems, Appian, Kony and Mendix as leaders. Typically you can get a ‘free’ copy from 1 or more of the leaders.
  • PCMagazine reviewed 10 platforms in July 2017 and provides extensive individual reviews.
  • Infoworld published 25 tools/platforms in April 2018 for building mobile apps
  • Gartner has a peer review website where you can get insights from actual users of various platforms – 18th August 2018

The resources will by no means mention all potential platforms. To be listed they must have a reasonable market presence. Finding specialised or niche players can remain a challenge. The list of vendors is likely to change significant. I will update this list regularly as I do my own research into platforms.