Low Code Vs Custom Development: Making the Right Choice for your Business
A hot topic in the world of business solutions and application design, low-code has taken the world by storm but as with any new technology, to realise the potential you must carefully consider its application in the context of existing technologies and your unique business requirements.
Eliminating the need to know a programming language low-code has become a much-discussed topic within the business landscape, with Gartner predicting that 65% of all app development will be low-code by 2024. If these predictions hold true, most businesses will see some form of low-code adoption, yet custom application development will still have its place.
Therefore to ensure you choose the right development method for your business needs, it is important to understand the differences between the two.
Custom application design requires access to an entire team of highly skilled software engineers including QA Engineers, UX designers, project managers and platform specialists. Without the correct technical knowledge and expertise either in-house or via a third-party provider, the creation of a fully functioning application with custom development is unlikely, to say the least.
Low code on the other hand is designed to empower everyday business users to create their own applications with little to no technical background. It is this user-friendly approach to design that makes low-code a popular choice for building MVP's, simple workflows and apps that solve common business issues.
Despite the low levels of technical expertise required for low-code application design, it is worth bearing in mind that upskilling will still be required to familiarise your business users with the basic principles of application design. We recommend that organisations adopting low-code implement basic guidelines for application design at a minimum, or ideally a Centre of Excellence to future-proof the design process, prevent application sprawl and safeguard business data.
Taking a ground-up approach to solution and application design custom development offers unparalleled feature functionality. Software created can be fully customised to fit your unique business needs and virtually any integration can be made possible with time and effort. In fact, when you opt for custom development you are typically free to choose the technology, tooling, hosting and API's that best realise the desired functionality, with the only real limitations your time and budget available.
Unlike custom app development where you can write code to meet your business requirements, low-code applications are primarily built using a drag and drop interface in a development platform certain limitations will apply. While some of these can be overcome by working with a seasoned developer, it is important to carefully consider what intrinsic platform restrictions apply and whether or not integration with business-critical tools are supported by the solution provider.
Cost & Time of Development
Requiring a team of software specialists, custom application design and development, no matter how you approach it (be it in-house, outsourced or near-shore) will require serious budgeting. Even where off-the-shelf components can be used to speed up the development cycle, the vast majority of the app will be programmed manually, and that takes time.
In fact, even when the software is complete, ongoing support and maintenance are likely as the business goals and processes shift over time and integrated business systems are updated or swapped out. For those organisations with an in-house IT department or ongoing support contract, these revisions can be closely project managed but inevitably the system will require future investment to support business growth.
Low-code platforms on the other hand are typically developed on an aPaaS (application platform as a service), which means they are maintained and run by the company that owns the software (similar to Microsoft with M365). Updates and improvements in the core software are therefore handled by the hosting company reducing the cost of ownership.
In addition, low-code platforms require minimal if any IT intervention and are typically offered on a per user per month pricing model dramatically reducing the overall cost of solution design in comparison to traditional custom development.
Finding the right fit
As you can see custom development and low-code solutions offer their own advantages, with the weighting of each cost/benefit largely dependent on the companies individual software needs and existing infrastructure. While low-code offers considerable cost benefits over traditional design, in some cases investing in custom development will result in greater business with such situations including;
the development of applications requiring complex logic
solutions that require integration with a lot of third-party systems
where a unique user interface is required
where there is a business case for 100% control of the application and its code.
Considering an application development project? Storm Technology can help you pinpoint the right fit solution development approach for your unique business needs, be it low-code or custom development, offering both technical and/or advisory services to help you get started. To find out more get in touch today.