Governance During the No-code Gold Rush: Part 1

Written By: Ty Shewmake
November 1, 2018
5 min read

Ty Shewmake, CTO at VeilSun, discusses his approach to no / low-code governance and how to establish an effective no / low-code governance framework in this three-part series.

Today, the explosive adoption of no- and low-code app building platforms is ushering in an exciting new era in application development.

Since the very first computer, businesses have been content to leave software development up to IT. They did not do this because they wanted to, rather they did so because software development was complex, intimidating, and acronym-laden.

Those of us without a grasp of acronyms like LAMP, WAMP, SDLC, ACL, and AES never stood a chance in the traditional web development world.

So, we left all our app development up to the professionals, and we waited… And waited… And waited…

In the early 2000’s, Application Platform as a Service aPaaS vendors like Quickbase quietly began changing all that. Many years later, no / low-code has matured until today, apps developed outside of the IT department are commonplace – and built by people much closer to the actual work that is being done. From administrative assistants to marketing managers to CFOs – people at every level in your organization now can use a platform like Quickbase to very quickly build and deploy successful, secure, and scalable web applications.

Even better, these apps can be deployed at a fraction of the cost of full-stack apps. Six-figure software projects previously requiring months are now completed in days or weeks at a mere fraction of the cost.

This is the promise of no-code.

Yes, secure web apps really are being built far faster and at far less cost by no- and low-code app builders outside of IT. In fact, no-code apps are now appearing virtually overnight, and in every industry conceivable from banking, to healthcare.

However, as the no-code gold rush gathers momentum, we believe it may make sense for everyone involved (no-code builders, business leadership, vendors, and yes, IT) to take a minute, and think a bit more about how we govern this new-found low-code capability.

While you probably recognize that platforms like Quickbase are revolutionizing your development, have you stopped to wonder to what extent (or even if) your new no / low-code development process ensures software quality, security, and maintainability?

Why You Should Care

When business people (aka no-code builders) design, build, and maintain their own applications in the cloud, the vast majority do so outside of IT’s Systems Development Life Cycle (SDLC). The SDLC framework was universally used for over 20 years to ensure quality in web software development.

SDLC is “out”. No-code is “in”.

So, in practical terms, no-code developers can be likened to folks who work on their own cars (except in this case, they’re building the car as well). Many folks do a fantastic job. Some can just get their car to run. Some end up with their car on blocks.

Some folks are natural born mechanics – some are not. The same applies to those building apps with no-code software.

No matter how web software is developed (or by whom), organizations that overlook basic online software governance can quickly find themselves with small projects that can cause challenges down the road.

The amazing ease of no-code development and almost infinite scalability of platforms like Quickbase almost guarantee that apps will grow in functionality as time goes by. Basically, because they can do more, they’re asked to do more.

Recently, we at VeilSun were asked by a large company in the telecomm space to evaluate and optimize their ERP system. This Quickbase application (that began life in 2015 as a simple departmental inventory application), was now running most of the company as their ERP system. Though the application was wildly successful, design flaws that did not manifest at 30 users, began to slow performance at 350+ users.

We’re routinely asked to evaluate web apps that begin life as modest, departmental applications but eventually morph into business-critical enterprise systems – interconnecting multiple legacy and external systems.

We often find these enterprise apps are managed by the same no-code developer (if they’re still with the company, in the same job) who built them when they began life as an inventory application. While these no-code systems have saved businesses thousands (or even millions) of dollars, we are increasingly correcting foundational design errors that reduce application performance, security, and reliability.

Just Make It Work?

So, no-code builders are now building, deploying, and revising more cloud apps than IT – and many of these builders have the perspective that as long as apps work, they’re OK. That doesn’t necessarily mean they’re “right” – built with governance in mind from the start.

Effective no-code governance is not the process of re-architecting an application when there’s a problem. On the other hand, neither is it a return to days of a rigid IT SDLC. However, many organizations we see could benefit from a bit more robust (yet reasonable) low-code governance framework.

At VeilSun, we’re finding success implementing basic no / low-code governance for our clients that improves these 4 key areas:

  1. Design
  2. Security
  3. Currency
  4. Maintainability

While IT in many organizations today is hands-off with regard to no- and low-code, they have an opportunity to step up and add value to their organization’s no-code development process in functions outside of IT.

Developing and administering a sensible low-code governance program would be a fantastic first step.

Like it or not, at some point IT is going have to be involved.

In the next post, I’ll talk about the governance tools available in Quickbase now (and what’s coming). In post 3, I’ll tie everything together with a suggested framework for organizational no / low-code governance success.

VeilSun is a professional services firm that has helped hundreds of organizations over the last 12 years successfully navigate their no / low-code transformations. VeilSun Low-Code Enterprise (VLE) service is a new framework that provides a quick-start to small and large organizations embarking on (or enmeshed in) their transformation.

Contact us any time to chat about your organization’s no / low-code transformation.

Written By: Ty Shewmake

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