Lean IT in Practice: Low-Code Application Development

Written By: Mikaela Gluck
August 20, 2020
5 min read

At its core, the concept of “lean thinking” centers around maximizing value for the end-customer while minimizing the resources it takes to do so. Although this concept has its roots in manufacturing, “lean” principles can be applied across industries and departments to save money and encourage innovation.

For IT, the customer they serve is most often internal – fellow employees and business leaders. And the value these customers are looking for is the ability to work and innovate efficiently.

Eliminating Waste

The first principle of Lean IT is eliminating waste at every levels. This waste comes in different forms, like long wait times for approvals or highly skilled professionals filling their time with menial, unnecessary, or administrative tasks. Waste might even come in the form of purchasing software solutions that don’t provide the value promised or the functions your business truly needs.

Such inefficiencies flush your business’s limited time and money down the drain. Although many of these processes are necessary for the business to run, with an IT department working at maximum capacity just to keep the lights on, there isn’t much room left for innovation.

By eliminating waste, resources like the IT budget and the attention of expert developers can be reinvested in innovation – setting the company up for success for years into the future.

Process Driven by Customer Demand

Identifying and eliminating wasteful business practices begins with ensuring that all processes are driven by customer demand.

For an IT department serving employees throughout the business, this means meeting them where they’re at. An IT leader should be able to explain how their efforts translate directly into value for their end user, and ultimately, the business at every point in their workday.

This requires an understanding of customer demand.

In IT, your users – the people in your business – need the ability to work efficiently, eliminate wasteful processes, and innovate quickly to adapt to changing needs. The process enhancements and technology solutions your IT department implements should directly address most, if not all, of these concerns.

Maximizing Human Capital for Continuous Innovation

Innovation is necessary for companies to survive, but in order to thrive, companies must be innovating continuously. For maximum effect, the opportunity for innovation must be integrated throughout every corner of your business.

IT faces the unique challenge of keeping the business modern while serving the people who run it. One of the best ways they can achieve both and encourage organization-wide continuous innovation is by investing in their most important resource – human capital.

This means empowering people within the business to innovate the tasks and processes they perform day-to-day. The goal here is to allow the people closest to the work (who often hold the most insight into how these tasks effect other aspects of the business) the ability to modernize outdated processes, automate manual tasks, and focus their efforts on creating value for their end-customer.

Frank Speiser of Talla, a member of Forbes Technology Council, believes that Lean IT principles like continuous innovation “allow teams to focus on more strategic and innovative work while saving on budget by alleviating menial tasks through automation.”

Another benefit is that it frees up resources that were previously spent on app development and troubleshooting so that IT can re-focus on strategic and innovative technology initiatives that span company wide.

Achieve Lean IT through Low–Code

Although Lean IT might appear to be easier said than done, it can be implemented easier than you’d think – and even on a budget.

If your IT department is looking to maximize value and minimize cost, a low–code platform like Quick Base may be the software solution you’ve been searching for.

How can your IT department use low–code to put Lean IT principles into action?

By making rapid application development accessible to anyone (even people without a technical or traditional software development background), wasteful and time-consuming processes that eat away at IT and business resources can be eliminated with minimal oversight from the IT department.

Low-code addresses many of the technology-based concerns held by people in your business. They need to work as efficiently as possible while maintaining the ability to adapt quickly to change. By providing people with access to a low-code platform, IT can give the business vehicles to move fast – all while retaining a tight hold on the master key.

Training your employees to be citizen developers is an investment in human capital with a huge ROI. Empowering businesspeople to build, customize, and connect cloud apps without writing a single line of code can exponentially increase the value they produce for your business.

Not only will continuous innovation become a permanent fixture in your company culture, but your people will be able to focus on the high-level tasks that matter most to your business’s end-customers.

The value of low-code to Lean IT speaks for itself. One company, which happens to be one of the top 10 veterinary pharmaceutical companies in the world, used Quick Base to enable thousands of employees around the world to build their own cloud-based business applications. The result? Overall IT spending was reduced by 30% in just a few years, with their IT department spending 40% less than their closest industry competitors.

Written By: Mikaela Gluck

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