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  • Citizen-Centric Personalized Digital Government
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Article May 9th, 2023

by Tiia Lifländer, Lead Business Consultant

Low-coding in IT - the game changer?

As technology continues to evolve and digitalization shapes the way we interact, public administrations must adapt and find new ways to provide digital services now and in the future.

While modern digitalization is expected to revolutionize the future also on the public administration side, the fact that developing software can require a significant commitment of time, money, and resources brings its own challenges for decision-makers. The fact that one software development project can take several months or even years to complete and require specialized skills, tools, technologies, and costs may slow down the eagerness towards digitalizing the future. Additionally, software development often involves ongoing maintenance and upgrades, which can add to the cost and time required.   

Today, there’s a real game changer. It’s called low-code platforms, which have actually been gaining a lot of popularity lately. And the trend will move forward: as an example, Gartner estimates that even 70% of new applications developed will use low-code technologies by 2025. And the popularity is for a good reason. When it comes to developing and delivering modern digital services, with traditional coding, it can take several months or even years to develop an application. With low-code platforms, you can create an application in a matter of days or weeks. They really make it easier and faster to develop modern digital services while making it cost-effective.   

In this article, we are discussing Nortal’s view on low-code development and how it benefits the public administration and private sector when digitalizing the future.  

Low-Code as the magic wand for digitalizing the future

It’s been said that the low code can be called to be like a magic wand for software development. It is an approach to SW development enabling the creation of new applications quickly and with little coding, using tools built for this purpose. The low-code platforms offer developers a user-friendly visual interface where they can leverage off-the-shelf components and integration services to build functionalities, create workflows and configure business rules – reducing the amount of time and effort required to build applications. In addition to the more agile development project itself, the changes in changing legislation and operational needs can be implemented quickly and cost-effectively, providing the agility as well as cost-efficiency required for modern public administrations.  

Now, because of the low code, you might be wondering, is the need for traditional software developers going away? The answer is no. Contrary to popular belief, low-code development is not just for simple, limited solutions. It is also suitable for large, complex implementations that require application development expertise, such as integrations and additional functionalities. One very good example of this is the Room Capacity Management solution Nortal has developed for the healthcare sector. The solution also included multiple integrations, like the medical record system, to mention one, making it a complex project as a whole. Nevertheless, low-code implementation allowed for fast and agile development. The Room Capacity Management solution was developed together with end-users, and thanks to low-code implementation, features requested by the pilot users from medical staff, have been implemented and rolled out in weeks rather than months. 

Why is low code a big deal?

It’s beginning to be quite clear that low-code development really provides several benefits that make it an attractive option for public administrations looking to develop people-centered services. Let’s once more take a look at some of them – why is low code that a big deal?  

  • Speed: With low-code development, the development cycle itself can be implemented in a more agile way. Additionally, the changes can be implemented quickly and cost-effectively, reducing the time required to develop and deliver new services  
  • Agility of Development with User Involvement: Low-code development encourages user involvement, making it easier to develop services that meet the needs of end-users. By involving end-users early in the development process, low-code development can help create more user-centered services right from the first rounds instead of using time and money to multiple iterations rounds that may occur without involvement.
  • Integrability: While low-code solutions can be used to implement complex systems, low-code platforms make it easy to implement and manage integrations as well.
  • Cloud Computing: Low-code solutions and platforms come with built-in data protection and security features, making it easier to ensure that services are secure and compliant with relevant regulations.
  • Automation: Low-code solutions come with pre-built automation workflows and processes, reducing the amount of time and effort required to build new services
  • Cost-effectiveness: By simplifying the development process, low-code platforms help you save on costs. It can bring you more efficient resource allocation and a faster return on investment.

What to take into consideration when choosing a low-code option?

According to our experiences, to get the most and best out of low-code development, it is beneficial to educate and support end-users to participate in this agile development path. This means involving end-users in the development process itself and using rapid prototyping to make it easier for users to provide feedback and suggest improvements.  

It’s good to be recognized as well that the low-code development is also suitable for a multi-vendor environment where several applications are being developed on the same platform. This highlights the importance of project owners’ control and decision-making ability to ensure that services are developed to meet end-user needs.  

During the development phase itself, it is also essential to consider the maintainability of the application and establish a model and approach for continuous improvement. The more complex the solution, the more important it is to have a plan in place for ongoing maintenance and improvement.  

For these reasons, our partner of choice is Microsoft. Microsoft Power Platform’s rich integration interfaces and more than 900 ready-made connectors have enabled connectivity to a wide range of back-end systems allowing a multi-vendor ecosystem and providing a gateway to automation. This flexible and agile set of tools will allow us to build reports, dashboards, desktop and mobile applications, and automated workflows that ensure an instant feedback loop from insights on the backend to actions on the ground.

Low-coding people-centered service development

Developing people-centered services requires the development of digital services across organizational boundaries based on end-user needs. Low-code development can help create people-centered services by enabling faster, more agile changes already at the development stage.  

Rapid experimentation with technology solutions that support new service concepts and operational models is also possible with low-code development. This allows public administrations to test new ideas quickly and efficiently, ensuring that services are developed to meet end-user needs.  

Low-code development is an exciting trend that can help public administrations build complex applications quickly and cost-effectively. Keeping customer experience in mind, low code solutions are a modern approach to traditional services, providing a possibility to bring public services closer to people than ever before. 

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