Low Code is Great-- But Don't Forget Development Fundamentals


Many organizations are adopting a low-code strategy with technologies like Laserfiche. There are many good reasons for this. A low-code plan can help reduce the cost of developers cost for a project by enabling less-skilled developers or business analysts to create new functionality. More hands also can increase the speed of development. Plus, components like workflows can be reused across the organization.


Many agencies miss the broader business, governance, and project management processes needed to ensure an application is developed to meet business needs. Organizations need to ask themselves: What are the business requirements? How are we integrating feedback? What are the critical compliance controls we need to implement? Does this shiny, new workflow change anything from a records management perspective?


Project management is still critical


We've had clients reach out and tell us they can't get staff members to use a Laserfiche Workflow they've built. After careful review, we can usually determine the root cause. Sometimes it's technical. Sometimes it's because the person who created the workflow didn't fully document business requirements, iterate on feedback, or even ask for feedback. In other words, no one practiced proper project management. Which probably isn't their fault; they may not know that project management exists. But this is what can happen when a non-developer builds features in a low code platform. Just because the Laserfiche Workflow Designer or Forms Interface is easy to use doesn't mean it should be used without guardrails.


Also, fixing the issue might even triple the time needed to complete the workflow, removing the agency's cost savings from adopting low-code and not using a skilled developer.


Ensure department-level developers have skills


Low-code is somewhat of a paradox. Its selling proposition is that you don't need a highly skilled developer to build on the platform. However, some skills are required. Staff members let loose in Laserfiche need to be proficient in Laserfiche, having undergone CPS training and getting a Laserfiche Certification. In addition, they need clear instructions on what to do and what not to do. IT just can't insource building a department workflow to department staff. IT still needs to support the project.


Low-code projects should be born from strong business-IT alignment. For instance, an agency decides to build a customer onboarding process with Laserfiche but designs it with minimal staff engagement. When the platform is delivered, the business users reject the workflow logic, rules, reporting, and user interfaces, as they impose complex operational change management. Much like typical platform development, the business unit and IT must be in sync even if the developers are pros.


Low-code or not, the customers (those who will be using the onboarding process) need to be involved from the first sprint–understanding how the model is designed, signing off on the UX, and understanding the flow of data between systems. The result is delivering precisely what the business wants.


I've got more thoughts on low-code and project management, so if you are interested, watch this space.