How to Maximize Innovation and Retain Governance When App Development Goes Company-wide

Written By: Ankit Shah
May 10, 2018
5 min read

Innovate faster and drive more efficiency. It’s the mantra being heard by businesses large and small across every sector, and it’s the compelling force behind an ever-growing demand for technology solutions. With the pool of professional developers continuing to shrink, the IT resources needed to support this massive uptick in app development are becoming increasingly strained. Wait times grow, and so do workforce frustrations. According to the U. S. Bureau of Labor Statistics there will be an estimated shortfall of 500,000 developers by 2020.

Looking for a way to solve their problems faster, an increasing number of those on the front lines of business are purchasing unsanctioned tools to build their own solutions—but that approach leads to a risky Shadow IT environment.

So, what’s a CIO to do? To head off potential risks, it’s important for IT to partner with business and enable them to solve their own challenges using no-code platforms. These platforms can be leveraged by anyone with basic to advanced spreadsheet skills and an understanding of their data and process. This new generation of app development platforms needs a right-sized governance model to ensure it does not restrict business innovation, decrease time-to-value, and limit the agility necessary to act on new opportunities and compete effectively. Cisco’s Recent analysis of its own networks revealed that 98% of all cloud services at large organizations are purchased outside of IT.

Unlike traditionally developed and maintained mission-critical apps that require tightly regulated and governed IT management, no-code platforms—typically designed for and by the business—do best with a lighter hand.

What do you gain? By sanctioning a secure yet flexible space where business builders can develop and deploy their own problem-solving, productivity enhancing solutions, IT can devote more time to mission critical apps. Everybody wins big, including the business.

Five considerations for a right-sized governance model

Right sizing governance for no-code platforms is a matter fine tuning. Let’s begin with five things you’ll want to keep in mind to help you strike a proper balance between control and autonomy based on your specific organization’s needs.

  1. Who will be building the app on the no-code platform (e.g., line of business professionals, business analysts, professional developers where deeper integration is needed with existing systems of records, etc.)?
  2. How will the app be built? This encompasses the development and delivery processes for the no-code platforms such as agile, waterfall, ad hoc, etc.
  3. What kind of app do you want to build? Apps might include departmental or functional apps, like for sales or project management; apps of a particular type such as database or workflows; or apps of a class, for instance, partner engagement or non-critical departmental apps.
  4. Where in the organization will these apps be built? This is important because it indicates ownership of the no-code platform and the type of collaboration required between various departments.
  5. When will this app be built? This will help you prioritize decisions about what apps are to be built in what order.

Key controls

In addition to the considerations above, you’ll also need to think about the following set of capabilities within a no-code platform. The goal is to provide a framework of policies and guidelines that will support the right level of security, governance, and scalability for your business.

  • Identity & authentication management including integration with corporate identity management, single sign on, two step authentications, etc.
  • Corporate security policies to apply such as audit logs, custom password policies, session management, IP filtering, etc.
  • Guardrails via roles and groups that encompass predefined and newly customizable roles, providing the ability to define role-based access down to the field level.
  • User management at scale to provide visibility into user access, permissions, and activity across the platform.

IT and business as a united front

Another key ingredient for success is effective collaboration. The best approach for maximizing advantage to the business is one that supports no-code builder self-sufficiency while at the same time fosters partnership and guidance from IT.

At Quick Base, we have identified three successful models of collaboration based on our customers’ strategies for optimizing the benefits of no-code application development.

Business-led—Over half of our customers leverage this model which emphasizes faster time-to-value and lower development costs. With it, no-code app builders create, deploy, and update applications on their own, backed by IT best practices in governance and security. Help is provided as needed from IT to connect and authenticate with other corporate systems.

Balanced—Used in about 30% of Quick Base app building initiatives, a balanced model exemplifies deeper collaboration between business and IT where each builder contributes their expertise. For example, IT prototypes and iterates the application while the business builder adds business logic, workflows, reports, and dashboards to meet specific needs. This model facilitates the streamlined development of more complex applications.

IT led—A little under 20% of Quick Base customers use the IT-led model. In this scenario, IT builds the initial version of the app and then rolls it out to the builder who can make updates based on evolving business needs. This model enables high control over security and governance while still benefiting from low-cost maintenance and improved agility.

These choices are only possible when both business professionals and professional developers can leverage one platform that empowers both to innovate with confidence and speed. That’s the true beauty of Quick Base.

Interested in a deeper dive?

Want to learn more about how your IT department can partner with the front lines of business to enable everyone to become more productive, innovative, and agile—without sacrificing security and governance? Then you’ll want to listen in on our recent webinar, The Practical CIO, presented by me and my Quick Base colleagues, Betsy Carlton-Gysan and Davin Wilfrid. We offer our insights, practical advice, and real-world stories about:

  • The impact of a growing number of business app builders and the rise in ungoverned apps
  • Low-code and no-code platforms and their bearing on business and IT teams across the enterprise
  • Maximizing the value of no-code/low code platforms while mitigating risks to the business
  • Ways IT and business are successfully collaborating on app building
  • Tips for getting started, including what to look for in a no-code platform, and lots more

Round out the session by hearing what’s on the mind of your peers with a “Questions & Answers” segment. Check it all out here.

Written By: Ankit Shah
Ankit is a Sr. Product Marketing Manager at Quickbase where he focuses on helping customers collaborate between their IT and Business to drive innovation & digital transformation within their organization. Ankit’s alma mater is Georgia Institute of Technology where he earned a degree in Computer Engineering.

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