It’s no surprise that 4 out of 5 U.S. companies are now using low-code platforms for app development. These tools empower citizen developers—business and tech-savvy employees from across the enterprise without formal IT training—to build apps up to 90% faster than the traditional software development lifecycle, according to a 2022 McKinsey study. And, according to a study by Accenture, low-code apps are increasingly customer-facing.
With proper governance, low-code tools can integrate smoothly with legacy systems, so that they adhere to updates and protect against data loss and security risks.
Developing a low-code governance structure
The task is to ensure that citizen developer initiatives are built to be successful, secure, and sustainable. But who should call the shots—executives in charge of running business units who have a need for low-code adoption and recruit citizen developers, or IT professionals who oversee the company’s technology?
For many companies, the answer is both, combined in a “fusion team” that serves as a bridge—a lateral rather than a horizontal, top-down organizational structure.
“The fusion team is the control point that ensures that business demand and ideation meet IT controls to ensure corporate design standards and resiliency,” says Gary Plotkin, KPMG global platform leader.
A fusion team can be as expansive and inclusive, or as lean and lightweight, as needed, according to Plotkin. It may include business leaders outside of IT as well as IT specialists (in coding, architecture, data, and UI) and citizen developers, as well as advisors from the low-code platform company and consultancies to provide training and help establish governance standards and procedures.
At different stages of the low-code software development cycle, either business owners and strategists or IT leaders and professionals will take center stage. Where there may be a need to automate a manual business process or customer-facing product, business owners may drive low-code platform adoption and citizen development initiatives. Business owners also lead the search for potential tech talent among the non-IT ranks.
The low-code development lifecycle
Once business leaders have recruited them, citizen developers ideate low-code software solutions in a “sandbox” environment, where they can train on the platform and design “proof of concept” apps, without integrating into existing systems.
If business owners are satisfied with proof of concept, IT steps into the picture and a small-scale pilot goes into production. Q&A testing is only one aspect of the governance that IT pros provide at this stage; they also ensure guardrails for integration of the new low-code app into legacy systems and data models.
The lifecycle of a low-code project doesn’t end with full-scale production. After a successful launch, IT continues to monitor and refine the app’s continued integrity and security. At the same time, business strategists continue to envision new low-code products they might create and grow their talent pool of citizen developers.
The fusion team is the control point that ensures that business demand and ideation meet IT controls to ensure corporate design standards and resiliency.
It’s a process that works to bring light development into business units, expanding the opportunities for low-code across the organization.
“Low code isn’t just for ‘citizen’ developers,” says Mark Tognetti, Now Platform global transformation leader at ServiceNow. “Low code is of value no matter what kind of developer you are, even if you have years of experience under your belt.”