By Attila Ambrus, COO of Lowcono Inc.

Low-code development tools and platforms have created a new industry in the last few years, and the growth of this industry has accelerated since the workforce started working remotely. This brings up new concerns, understandably, both about its decentralized development process, and citizen developers creating enterprise-level business applications in general.

Traditional software development relies on several systems and processes to implement the development, like style guide, source control, backups, development and management methods, deployment automation etc. Developers and other engineers expect these standards to be present and followed.

Low-code, and especially no-code development, representing a completely opposite paradigm, prides itself on writing minimal code or not having to write code at all. A low-code platform comes with everything above built-in, there’s very little protocol to worry about, or even to pay attention to beyond the features and attributes of the actual application. Low-code tools connect prebuilt modules, features and functions, they take care of error handling through self-testing after implementation.

Are you new to low code? Read What Is Low-Code and How Is it Still Not on Everybody’s Agenda?

The primary user of these development platforms are citizen developers – employees who create applications by themselves, using tools that are not forbidden by IT or any other business units. Citizen developers have a certain level of business process knowledge, mainly in their primary business domain, and they can be trained relatively quickly to use low-code development tools to create simple business applications – thus helping the digital transformation of existing business processes therefore the whole enterprise.

Sounds wonderful right? However, there are a few potential issues when non-technical users develop applications: too much independence can lead to a rise of a ‘shadow IT’, there are inherent security concerns, one app fixing one problem for one group could end up creating other problems elsewhere due to the of lack of oversight.
These are all valid concerns – but today’s truly all-purpose, enterprise level single platform low-code solutions come with built-in tools and frameworks to handle almost any business challenges.

In essence, any enterprise-grade platform comes with tools corporate IT can use to properly carve out roles and permissions for citizen developers, not just within the business unit but across the whole organization, if necessary. As citizen developers are still developers, they just have a more limited focus, their access level can be tailored to match their skills and their requirements. This is nothing new, it’s the age-old ‘as-needed’ approach, in a more restrictive, more granular framework.

Let citizen developers create…

The real answer to these concerns is in the demarcation of creating these business applications and deploying them into the corporate IT environment. Citizen developers will always build smaller applications first, only to solve their own problems. Unlike enterprise applications these small apps can be built without IT’s involvement, fostering more engaged employees and a much faster process. All IT needs to do is set up the initial sandboxed developer environment then let the users be, let them decide how and what they want to develop.

…but do not let them deploy anything

However, once they feel they are done, they are ready to deploy the app, IT should take over. The introduction of a new application into the corporate ecosystem should not be the source of security or any other concerns for any company, thus it must be performed by corporate IT, following their established protocols.

Enterprise-grade low-code platforms come with built-in frameworks, making it easy for IT to set up even automated deployment workflows. They also make sure that proper documentation is created, coordinate with business units about rollouts, training etc. IT can act as the final arbiter of all these decentralized development projects, run and manage the backend platform as well as the deployment of these apps.

One platform to rule them all

A a low-code platform with open APIs also allows seamless integration of all the different applications developed on the platform, including cross-communication between these apps, can be handled by regular IT staff, without any major integration effort.

A truly multipurpose, enterprise-grade single solution low-code platform will simultaneously cover the needs of every business unit of the whole enterprise, will bring simplicity and standardization across the board, while also validate and reinforce IT’s inherent role in ensuring security and compliance.