By now you’ve heard it countless times: In today’s rapidly changing business landscape, there is a serious shortage of developers. This shortage causes an array of problems for businesses. For developers, time is drained on routine maintenance tasks as backlogs of requests steadily increase. Meanwhile, business users cannot adapt processes and systems to the pace demanded by the market and must wait for their requests to reach the top of the IT queue. Across the board, completion of tasks is cumbersome and lagging, leading to poor experiences for employees and customers alike.
“Only 2% of the world’s population knows how to code. So if we can broaden the spectrum of people we invite into the application development process, there’s huge potential for your organization to become much, much more productive.”
In response to the developer gap and problems it causes organizations, no code and low-code software has proliferated throughout the market. While both types of software have the same aim – to make coding more accessible and thus relieve IT bottlenecks – they are not necessarily interchangeable. When choosing the right solution for your needs, there are key differences to consider.
So, what is the difference between no code and low code?
Let’s begin with no-code software, which is truly what it sounds like - there is absolutely no coding needed to use it. No-code tools allow anyone to self-service development for their own needs, leveraging visual tools that are reminiscent of computer programs users might be accustomed to (think of Smartsheet – essentially a living, interactive version of desktop Microsoft Excel). As such, no-code solutions cater to users with no coding knowledge or training. These tools can be a great, quick fix for an individual user to streamline a routine task or process, or to better collaborate on projects.
However, ease of adoption does come with its drawbacks. No-code tools possess limited capabilities for specialization or complex requirements. And due to such broad accessibility, users often find these tools on their own, ultimately burying IT in technical debt as work gets created outside of compliance or organizational security policies.
Now let’s turn to low code. Low-code software is like no code in that it also leverages easy-to-learn features such as drag-and-drop and visual components to enable a broad range of users to get started quickly. Unlike no code, low code does in fact enable coding to be done in tandem with no code tasks, meaning it draws in users with a range of coding knowledge – from IT and professional developers through citizen developers and business users. The development capabilities for low code are robust, and more complex, specialized, and/or scalable projects can be undertaken than with no code. Additionally, the scope of low code encourages much closer collaboration between IT and business, eliminating some of the concerns around the use of rogue or unsanctioned software.
For users with no technical background, a low-code solution might be more challenging to get started with than with a no code solution. Some level of training or onboarding should be expected, although it is still accessible to users at any skill level.
Choosing the right solution for your needs
We are all faced with the same problem: a shortage of professional developers. No-code and low-code solutions are a great way to help close this gap. But which type is right for your needs? Start by asking yourself a few questions:
- Do you have any technical background or interest in getting involved in development?
- Are you trying to implement a solution for broader adoption beyond yourself?
- Will your solution include many exceptions or integrations with more than one system?
- Does IT have the interest and/or bandwidth to partner with you on your initiatives?
If you answered NO to most of the above, no code could be the right tool for you. You can quickly adopt it and, without bothering IT, develop a relatively straightforward solution to a problem you are facing as an individual.
If you answered YES to most of the above, low code may be the better choice. You’ll be able to get your hands into the development process with an accessible learning curve and partner with IT to build out solutions to business challenges faced by you or your department.
No code and low code address the same problems, alleviating backlogs across the business and allowing for accelerated application development and delivery. However, as with any decision, it is worth considering the benefits and drawbacks of each to determine which is a better fit for your needs.
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