Cost-efficient automation for medium enterprises with low-code
Сomprehensive questionnaire to shape and polish your requirements for Low-code software.
- Why digital transformation is a challenge for the mid-sized companies
- The evolution of automation software
- Why is Low-code the best solution for midsize companies?
- Who can use Low-code?
- When it's hard to work without IT skills in Low-code?
- What problem does low-code solve?
- What to keep in mind when you choose Low-code software?
- How to choose a Low-code platform?
- How to use a Low-code platform?
- Summary. The Low-code trend for the mid-sized companies
Why digital transformation is a challenge for the mid-sized companies
As a company gets bigger, processes become crucial for sustainable growth.
Building the right digital infrastructure is one of the most significant steps on this path.
Where large enterprises can afford to spend a year on staff training and another year on implementation, mid-sized companies have to be fast and flexible.
Flexibility and the speed of adapting to changes are core drivers in mid-sized company growth. It’s also the main competitive advantage to big enterprises who obtain big budgets but can’t respond to changes in a short time.
Digital-first strategy is key as it allows fulfilling the customers’ needs and staying on the top of innovations. Optimization and modernization also help mid-sized companies to harmonize the values of customers and employees.
When the automation of business processes becomes inevitable, the mid-sized companies have to make a very difficult decision on choosing the software.
In this article we will try to help mid-sized businesses shape their automation requirements.
When mid-sized businesses start to capture requirements, they often face the following issues:
The evolution of automation software
Why is low-code the best solution for midsize companies?
Low-code development is a concept that provides the ability to modify, develop and perform complex business processes, when users already work with the processes on the production server, with minimal coding and maximum development productivity. Low-code solves one of the main modern automation problems: it speeds up the cycle from business requirements to a working business process.
The power of low-code is that a business analyst or even an advanced user is able to create or improve existing solutions. The main benefit of the low-code platforms for midsize companies is the possibility to react rapidly to market trends.
- To create a prototype of any possible solution and choose one or several that would bring the company the biggest profit.
- To implement it fast while the actual market needs are not yet covered by any other company
- To implement it with the help of regular users or analysts without involving highly qualified and highly paid programmers
- To update and change existing processes without pausing or stopping the deployed ones
- To support the solution autonomously, without extra spendings
Who can use low-code?
Any mid-size company, regardless of the specifics and scale of business, can create applications without contacting IT specialists. Their services are quite expensive, and it takes a lot of time to dive into the context of the business subtleties.
Meanwhile, the concept of low-code allows businesses to create products at a minimal cost and in a short time without resorting to ready-made boxed solutions.
With a Low-code platform, analysts and users can develop IT solutions without the help of programmers, create b2c and b2b workspaces. To create a fully functional workspace there is no need to have highly specialized knowledge.
Skills required to create and build the low-code solutions:
- Logical thinking
A mathematical mindset and logical thinking will help the user to better understand the structural principles of building software, properties and relationships between objects. For example, how to transfer data from a user's page to an employee’s page without duplicating it.
- Understanding the practical benefits of the product
The solution should bring practical benefits for business, meaning that implementers must have good communication soft skills. These are professional skills that help to contact customers, clearly identify their needs and bring the requirements to life, without a deep knowledge of programming.
- The ability to translate ideas into practice
This allows the analyst to understand which tools can be used to create the desired application.
- Basic knowledge of programming
A low-code system does not require deep programming, at the same time, any user could extend the basic components by writing scripts; it would be helpful to, for example, understand the general principles of creating algorithms, loops, functions, tables, etc.
When is it hard to work without IT skills in Low-code?
Low-code platform allows you to develop workflows that integrate with external modules, such as telephony or external software. To create an integration, a developer cannot work without competencies in the field of practical programming.
Also, such skills will be useful when developing workspaces for analytics or when needing to add additional components to the workflow interface.
In the mentioned cases, usually, experienced programmers are involved in cooperation. However, when working with low-code platforms, there is no such need, since it already has built-in scripts that are not affected by user behavior.
This feature of the BPM Low-code platform allows you to develop applications without editing built-in algorithms and that is the main advantage of this technology.
What problems does low-code solve?
As we already know, the low-code platform contains built-in templates and ready-made scripts for creating, modifying and implementing your own workspaces. You can solve any business specific problems and improvements. Among the advantages of this technology, the following should be noted.
You can build fault tolerant apps
As in most cases configuration can be done without code, there is no need for unnecessary scripting. This decreases the risk of breakdowns in code, and the stability of the solution is increased.
You can increase productivity
Development based on Low-code allows you to implement simple tasks according to the requirements, taking into account the specifics of the business. This approach is focused on automating and simplifying routine business processes. As a result, productivity is increased even under high load conditions.
You can reduce development time
Low-code allows developers to build solutions in a short time. This increases productivity and saves time and money for the company. The cycle of analysis, implementation, customization and deployment is reduced by simplifying the components and methods of development, testing and debugging. At the request of the customer, you can make changes at any time, and return to the previous versions. A detailed TOR is not required anymore: it is enough to write requirements as a use case.
You can save costs
Low-code helps to reduce development costs by up to 80% due to less programming than in traditional app development. This approach allows many companies to face development without attracting additional resources.
The main functionality and features are presented in the Low-code platform and are already installed there. These are built-in interface modeling functions, displaying data in a friendly way, configuration tools, table constructors, templates, notifications, documents, etc. With the help of these and other tools, users save a lot of time on architecture planning, prototyping, and detailed interface development.
However, despite the ease of use, users may still need some time to master the initial skills of working with the platform. They will have to get more deeply acquainted with the principles of configuration to apply the theory in practice. Because of this, the overall time to create an app can increase.
The speed and depth a user can master depend on the type of platform. For example, school students use a simple program like Scratch. More complex professional solutions, like ELMA365, are developed to build processes for financial or industrial products.
However, getting the Low-code skills is much easier than learning traditional programming. On average, the basic training period is 4 to 5 weeks. Based on the results, users will be able to create workspaces for the desired area on their own, without resorting to the help of IT specialists. Also they can learn technology without taking courses. To do this, the platform has reference materials that are also available online. The information is regularly updated with the latest versions.
What to keep in mind when choosing low-code software?
Every company belongs to a certain industry, but it still runs a business in its own unique way. To understand how well the software fits your specific requirements, ask a low-code vendor for a proof of concept.
A simple process with 2-4 user roles will work well. All you need is to describe the process steps and provide the low-code vendor with samples of documents if necessary.
It will help you see the low-code platform in action.
Let's once again consolidate the key advantages of a low-code platform.
Time to start
If you consider buying Low-code BPM software, you should be aware of the time it takes to start using it. This implies the following factors:
- Training of low-code developers and users
- The contracting process
- Gathering requirements and describing processes
- Administering the low-code platform
- Implementation of the project (integrations, business app creation)
Agile methodologies help to implement the low-code platform faster.
As your company grows, you need to be ready for changes. Roles and positions should be easily added or modified. For instance, when an employee gains deep knowledge of a process, they might be assigned the administrator role. Different limitations of low-code platform licensing can slow down the company's growth and make it harder to scale up the low-code solutions. Make sure that the low-code software has flexible licensing policies. Another point worth looking at is the low-code software architecture.
A scalable microservice architecture helps easily handle a growing amount of work by adding resources to the system.
According to statistics, 90% of mid-sized businesses are already using up to 3 enterprise software products. An all-in-one low-code platform has its benefits but it takes time for employees to get used to it. Integration with existing software is a good way to speed up implementation and keep the already digitized areas as is.
Keep in mind that you may need to give access not only to particular users and departments but groups. You may also need to be able to assign tasks to a group of people from different departments.
Price for value
Another thing to keep in mind is pricing. It’s never enough to compare standard user license prices. Many low-code vendors have a special price for developers and administrators, which is often 2-3 times higher. To understand the real price, you should check if there are any hidden costs.
Extensive process task management
The organizational structure in mid-sized enterprises is not that simple. Sometimes, responsibilities are not properly distributed among employees. Also, teams can be overloaded with the tasks, because they lack resources and onboarding takes time. In this case, detailed task forms, timely notifications, and escalation will help them perform their work efficiently.
Social collaboration features
In the age of remote and hybrid work, social collaboration features play a great role. Your team's efforts must be streamlined, or nothing will run as planned. There's no question that the long-term effects of poor communication will hit your bottom line hard as well. Using the right communication tools, including an all-in-one low-code platform with inbuilt features, can make it easier to maintain communication across departments.
Portal for external users
The portal can be of great help, making the external user (a partner or a customer) a part of your internal processes. This can significantly improve your customer service in days.
How to choose a Low-code platform?
We have prepared a comparison checklist for assessing Low-code platforms that best reflects the needs of medium-sized businesses. We are also suggesting three platforms that are most suitable for companies of 100-500 users.
Using the table, you can evaluate other vendors by these criteria. We have not included such popular solutions as Mendix, Signavio, Pega, etc., since their functionality and price are more focused on large enterprise customers, and this is not cost-effective for medium-sized ones.
ELMA365 is a system for automation and robotization of business processes and CRM with low-code technology that allows for creation of corporate applications faster and with less code. It prevents data loss and provides the necessary tools for monitoring performance. Thus, employees can engage in more productive work, increasing the efficiency of the company. In addition, the system allows users to create their own business solutions, as well as download ready-made ones from Store365. ELMA365 does not require installing additional software — all the work can be done in the browser.
OutSystems represents an enterprise Rapid Application Delivery (RAD) platform that develops applications and delivers them to iOS, Android, and the web using low-code solutions.
It is available as a cloud, on-premises and hybrid solution. You can easily integrate it with other systems, as well as add your own code to it.
One of the main advantages of OutSystems is a short development cycle. Moreover, the platform allows users to create applications and easily adapt them to various media such as smartphones, tablets and others. It is not easy to switch to a new development environment and the apps of OutSystems are easy to implement in current environments.
Despite all the benefits, some companies may be deterred by the comparably high cost of the product.
Creatio is a low-code system that includes a BPMN process designer for building structured processes, dynamic case management, and automating flexible unstructured processes. The user can easily customize the required actions, interfaces, conditions, etc.
At some point the interface does not allow you to immediately understand the functionality of the system and you might need some help with that.
How to use a low-code platform?
Creating an MVP or PoC helps to understand if your product or service will be in demand, and it is the main goal for a successful business launch.
MVP provides direct and indirect financial advantages. It allows businesses to:
- get feedback from the target audience before the product is launched to a wide market;
it is faster to launch the product and make a profit even before the development process is completed;
- convince investors of financing the completion of the development;
- save costs on market analysis and target audience.
Starting from MVP, we can build a great business solution that will be improved and customized to the company's needs and requirements while users continue working with existing processes.
Low-code platforms by using their components help to reach these business needs in a comfortable way. Let's cover how it works in more details based on the ELMA365 example.
Applications (apps) is the main interface to display data and functionality, for example, "Contracts", "Clients", "Agreements", etc. They are easy to create and modify, fine-tune data visualization and adapt to any business requirements.
The system offers three types of apps, every type is suited for a certain task:
- Standard. These apps are filled by data entered by users, calculated and modified in business processes, etc.
- Document. In addition to standard app functionality, it has a document flow - registration, signing (including EDS), and a history of document versions.
- Event. In addition to standard app functionality, it has a calendar that allows you to create and display different events and meetings for all user participants. Events also can be transferred from external calendars.
Apps are located in workspaces and help to organize the work and data storage.
Low-code app designer
Low-code designer is a tool that allows you to make convenient forms no matter how complex the requirements are, by using drag-and-drop and ready-made components from the toolbar.
Data can be displayed by columns, panels, tabs, etc.
Business process Designer
A business process model (flow chart diagram) describes all the actions that users must perform in order to achieve the logic of business requirements.
A Low-code platform should have modeling capabilities:
- Activities. A unit of work performed during a business process. Actions can be single (task) or compound (sub-process).
- Gateways. Elements for branching and merging workflows
- Events. Serve to describe what should happen at a certain moment in a process (start, end, timer)
- Swimlanes - used to define the participant of a business process
Debugging is a procedure that helps to remove errors in a business process after it is created. During debugging, the process operations are run step by step in real time. Thus, users can check the process logic, scripts, make sure that the task forms are created correctly, and the information is arranged conveniently.
A document template is a .docx or .xlsx file that contains variables. The values of these variables are automatically filled in with the data used in the process. Users can upload document templates and use them in business processes to create any type of documents.
As a result, you have a document that includes, for example, the contractor's name, signing date, and the price. Templates make document management faster and allow avoiding human mistakes.
The CRM workspace is made to manage the customer relationship processes. You can create a lead, qualify it as a deal and track its progress. Each lead and deal can be assigned to a responsible employee. You can control and monitor activities and store all important information about your customers, contacts and payments.
Apps can be shown on a Kanban board and grouped by stages.
ELMA365 provides standard modules for integration with IP-telephony service providers. A client can be indefind by the phone number, and their page will automatically open; also the call recordings are available directly on the page.
The system allows creating routes for electronic documents to automate all stages of the document lifecycle. Documents can be registered in the system manually or automatically; access to documents can be configured by person, department, or group of employees. One of the main benefits of working with the document component is version control. You can always see the current version and all the previously uploaded versions, as well as download any of them.
Portal is used to create a shared information space for interaction with customers and partners, and include them into business processes.
Customers can place orders through the system and access documents. Also it is necessary to mention data safety: analysts or users allow access to the necessary parts of the system individually using personal share links.
RPA (Robotic process automation)
Robots help to proceed with routine operations by automating business processes.
Software robots are virtual employees who can cover mundane, iterative operations that people used to exercise on their own.
The platform allows you to not only develop unique business processes, but also monitor their performance, track status and retrieve data that helps analyze the operation of the system.
Summary. The low-code trend for the mid-sized companies
Low-code is not a temporary trend but a global phenomenon; there are many factors, and today's business challenge is to make this trend sustainable. Of course low-code is a young technology, but it will not stop the market migration.
According to research made by Frevvo, low-code platforms speed up automation by 69% and reduce calling in high technical professionals by 40%.
Low-code allows us to reduce the cost of testing hypotheses and to get the profit faster.
- Reduced time from idea to implementation
- Cost reduction
- Improvement of customers experience
- Control of processes over interface
- Integration and cooperation with others systems
Most analytical agencies believe that more than 50% of midsize companies will switch to low-code platforms by 2023. This technology will soon become a key element and an integral part of the IT strategy.
Companies are forced to automate an increasing number of business processes in order to keep up with the times and be competitive. Low-code BPM platforms provide the possibility of digital transformation with a fast development cycle that costs less.
Top management sets new challenges for the departments, requiring changes in existing business processes. With the traditional approach, this takes months. An inefficient work cycle does not allow a company to respond quickly to the changing audience needs, improving a product, or opening new marketing channels to increase the number of customers.
Low-code platforms will allow you to act rapidly and resolutely.