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The low-code journey: from experimenting and discovering to delivering value at scale and continuous improvements

The low-code journey: delivering value

We work with clients through the entire digital transformation – from proof of concepts and envisioning to (software) implementation, business integration and (software) quality assurance.

Sebastiaan Tiemens

Senior manager, KPMG Digital

KPMG Nederland

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Today's businesses aspire more and more technology-based innovation and demands for software developments are growing to perform in fast changing environments and live up to customer expectations. At the same time, the complexity of the IT landscape, long lead times for changes and limited developer capacity hamper to meet these demands.

Low-code development platforms employ visual, declarative techniques that makes it possible to develop software model-based. The development mainly happens with graphical user interfaces, which means that programming involves more configuration with models rather than traditional writing of software code. It increases the speed of software development and shortens the time to market, but also frees up time for the development team's brain power and makes software development more understandable for the business.

In a nutshell, low-code development platforms address both the growing demands from the business as well as classic IT capacity related problems. But where do you start? What are the questions organisations should ask themselves to find out whether low-code platforms are suitable for them? What steps should be taken to successfully make use of low-code platforms and reap the benefits?

If these questions trigger your attention, read our overview below on how a low-code journey looks like and learn what should be taken into account while taking this journey.

Low code journey Infographic

1. Discover: start experimenting and discover what low-code could mean for you

Key in introducing low-code platforms within an organisation is showing its capabilities and strengths right away. The power of low-code is that functional Proof of Concepts (PoCs) can be built in the same amount of time as non-functional prototypes (e.g. mock-ups). This makes experimenting with low-code accessible for every organisation to discover what it means and the value it may deliver. It is recommended to start experimenting on small scale without spending too much effort on administrative processes and formalisation. Get started and the rest will follow, 'seeing is believing'.

2. Vision: engage and define your low-code vision

During the discovering phase you will notice that the first movers within the company will get excited and the buzz will spread throughout the organisation. Actions are initiated from the business to extend previously build PoCs and to start piloting. At this stage it is time for the IT, innovation, technology or development unit to start with structuring initiatives and develop your low-code vision. A bi-model IT framework allows low-code initiatives to be aligned with (the cadence of) traditional software development initiatives and their related maintenance or operational projects. While developing your low-code vision, it is important to take a broad view and include topics such as your (digital) business strategy, sector developments and other (emerging) technologies. The experience learns that low-code platforms are perfectly suitable as strategic platform to realise your digital transformation. To get to a decisive vision it is recommended to keep it pragmatic and create a compelling low-code story which will realise awareness and traction across (board, business and IT) stakeholders. It is recommended that, if possible, you already select your low-code platform of choice and already start thinking about implications which will require attention in the next phase.

3. Sketch and mobilise: develop the low-code value options and prepare for implementation

After experimenting with low-code and developing your low code vision it is time to translate your vision into a more formalised plan and start piloting. This can be either in certain business units or organisation wide. The extent to which low-code platforms are being used varies. From implementation initiatives of one single application either built internally or externally to the full embedment of a low-code platform in which your organisation can build and deploy apps continuously. In the end, you will have to establish the business case for change. This stage will learn you what the value options are and what the impact on your operating model will be. On-boarding low-code may require enhancements to your operating model in order for you to be set for success, such as technical requirements, the (Agile) way of working and existing IT landscape. A functional design, attention to technical aspects as coherent logic and architecture are essential for a successful implementation of which the costs can be managed.

4. Launch and realise: organise and execute business integration and system implementation based on low-code platforms

Making use of low-code platforms – either for a single application or as entire development platform – makes software development, integration, debugging and security validation significantly easier. To a certain extent this is even automated for you. However, you will still have to organise and manage your initiatives like a traditional software implementation. This can be either in project mode or can be embedded in an Agile development or DevOps team within your organisation. In general, more extensive and complex low-code implementations need an effective approach and governance. Care for software quality and security, life cycle management and maintenance processes are crucial to be in control and manage quality and costs in the long term.

An additional advantage of low-code platforms is that the model-based way of software development makes it more accessible for your business departments to understand how applications are being developed and even develop themselves to a certain extent. This will enable business and IT to truly converge by creating mutual understandings, supporting your Agile way of working and eventually increasing the success rate of business integration and system implementations. Still, expertise in gathering requirements, design thinking, process optimisation up to the actual software building, testing, deploying and quality assurance is essential.

5. Scale and improve: extend low-code at scale and continuously improve

Achieving your first successful results will make you and your organisation eager to create more value and scaling low-code. Practicing low-code platforms at scale will increase your capabilities to continuously change and adapt in today's fast changing world. Combining industry and business process knowledge with innovative and technical capabilities will help you to determine the best way forward and establish your roadmap for upscaling. While determining your roadmap, bear in mind the wide range of possibilities low-code has to offer – from building (innovative) customer engagement applications to operational efficiency applications and even (partially) replacing (legacy) core systems.

Leading low-code platforms such as OutSystems facilitate integrations with ERP systems (e.g. SAP), existing databases, APIs and other technologies. Finally, when your organisation is leveraging low-code platforms at scale it is highly recommended to establish a Centre of Excellence (CoE). Your CoE will ensure coordination, alignment, consistency and continuous improvement when practicing low-code at scale.

Talk to our specialists on the low-code journey

Are you interested to take on the low-code journey or would you like to receive more information? Feel free to reach out to Sebastiaan Tiemens or Joeri Weel and find out what this might mean for your organisation.

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