Businesses, both big and small, need software to make them more efficient and better at delivering quality service. But that’s just the start. Software today is becoming a means of strategic advantage once its full potential is integrated into the business model. It allows businesses to break barriers of cost of servicing segments that were not viable before and extend availability through self-service and automation. This is how new business models like that of Airbnb and Uber have emerged and opened a whole new front for existing businesses to figure out how they can evolve to keep up with the new challengers in the market.
However, the complicated technology landscape can be hard to understand for most. Choosing the right tool and approach for the purpose at hand, cost of technology and implementation risk and after that how to thread the different tools, processes, and people together into a cohesive, efficient process has historically been hard to achieve.
Building custom software is expensive and high-risk. Naturally, non-tech businesses should consider it as the last option. However, a surprising number of mid-size businesses fall into the trap of building ground-up, customized applications for their business needs. The process of building the tool takes up time and money and, more importantly, distracts management from achieving the main objective of the business. IT departments are flooded with requests from business users and have limited budgets and manpower. In addition, they need to deal with legacy systems across the organization which makes it harder to interconnect, add to that the power users adopting cloud solutions that they may not even have access to.
Two of the very popular emerging categories of tools that address the above challenges are low code and no-code application development platforms and automated application development platforms. Through this article, we hope to compare both popular trends and share the advantages and disadvantages of each so that you could make an informed decision about which of the two you should be adopting for your start-up or the digital transformation project in your company.
Automated Application Development
For years now, teams have been striving to automate individual development tasks to achieve faster development while simultaneously incorporating quality into every step. With increasing automation in custom app development could rely heavily on automating SDLC (Software Development Life Cycle) depending on the nature of your product and where you are in the cycle.
Understandably, the traditional approaches to building software from scratch are long-drawn and risky. Automated software development platforms like Xamun seek to change all of this through visual software development powered by automation. Its automated software development platform powered by helps companies undergoing a digital transformation as well as start-ups build fully functional, market-ready, and high-quality software in weeks. Xamun is ideal for projects seeking to build customer- or external-facing custom web and mobile software.
How does automated software development work?
Typically, there are four phases in automated application development.
During the Scope phase the proponent Co-designs software application with our designers and architects. Based on your inputs and requirements we will create wireframes and basic UX and perform technical assessment & architecture. We can further shorten this phase if you have your requirement prototype in Figma. During the Build phase, one can co-create with our team who will iteratively custom-build your app using our proprietary development automation tools. There will be regular check-ins across the build phase to make sure the milestones are met based on the full product backlog.
During the Deploy phase, we have your product running on the cloud with the aid of our seasoned cloud engineers. Alternatively, we can simply hand over hand over the source code to your own team for enhancement. As part of this, we do a walk-through of code structure, documentation, and architecture as part of our handover to your development team. Finally, the Enhance phase has all new features/major updates on the existing software that will undergo the same SCOPE-BUILD-DEPLOY cycle, as suggested above.
No-Code / Low Code Application Development Platforms
Low-code/no-code development platforms are types of visual software development environments that allow enterprise developers and citizen developers to drag and drop application components, connect them together and create mobile or web apps. These platforms are often discussed synonymously with the development methods they embody.
Low-code and no-code modular approaches let professional developers quickly build applications by relieving them of the need to write code line by line. They also enable business analysts, office administrators, small-business owners, and others who are not software developers to build and test applications. These people can create applications with little to no knowledge of traditional programming languages, machine code or the development work behind the platform's configurable components.
How do Low/No-Code platforms work?
In conventional software development, programmers write lines of code to create the functions and features desired in a computer program or application. This process requires programmers to have in-depth knowledge of computer languages, as well as development environments, deployment processes, and testing protocols. Low-code and no-code platforms encapsulate all that work behind the scenes. Users visually select and connect reusable components that represent particular steps or capabilities (which contain the actual code), and link them together to create the desired computerized workflow.
Users can create applications as if they were drafting a flowchart rather than writing line-by-line codes for each desired function and capability. These platforms also generally have features that allow for experimenting, prototyping, testing, and deployment. This type of app development work is sometimes called point-and-click development or simply click development.
How Is Automated Software Development Different from Low/No-Code?
Automated software development platforms like Xamun will help you create the basic structure of your software instantaneously, so you can focus on customization and fine-tuning. Automated software development platforms are NOT low-code platforms, it’s a visual development platforms powered by automation.
There are, however, significant differences between a Low Code / No-Code platform and the Automated Software development.
Figure 1- Automated development VS. No Code & Low Code Platforms
Let’s understand more of these differences in the context of a few parameters that we outline below:
1. Code ownership – With automated development, the code belongs to the client, and they are free to undertake any modifications or changes as they deem appropriate. In case of the no-code or low-code option, there is no concept of code-ownership as you are subscribed to the platform and its features on top of which you build applications.
2. Time to go live – Typically in automated development, it takes weeks for the company to go live. This is because automated development relies on co-creation where the client works with the development team to work through the development process – all the way to the application being developed and launched.
3. Upfront cost – Depending on the budget for application development, the upfront cost for automated development is typically higher than the applications built on low code and no-code platforms. This is usually because the development team works with you to customize the application to your requirements. Having said that it would typically be lesser than the costs the client might incur if the application is custom developed.
4. Expanding / building on existing codes- The tech stack in automated development platforms is pre-defined. Developers use the pre-defined tech stack to be able to make any changes that the client would need. With No-Code platforms, the tech-stack does not exist – it’s usually pre-built templates that could be easily customized for the intended application.
5. Hosting options- No-code / low code platforms are SaaS platforms and hence anything around hosting is completely the responsibility of the vendor providing the platform. With respect to the automated development, you as the client could have a preference where the application would be hosted, and the development team would be happy to accommodate the request. Xamun is partnered with Microsoft and all the applications built are hosted on the Azure servers.
The key differences between both these approaches are that while automated development is typically for more complicated applications with workflows and computation – could be for both in-house and customer-facing applications. On the other hand, apps built on no-code platforms are typically simpler apps, usually either in-house within the company or for simpler productivity apps.
Xamun: Automated Software Development Powering ‘Idea to Software in Weeks’
For companies looking to fast-track and bootstrap digital transformation, automated software development is a lucrative option. Companies can look to launch applications in a matter of weeks and look to improve the customer experience without burning a hole in the pocket. A fully functional software application ready to launch in 6-weeks without any of the risks, timelines, or the associated costs of building software applications.
The potential benefits of using an automated software development platform like Xamun include:
Lower risk for greater success- Xamun minimizes your project’s risk areas: cost, quality, scope creep, business continuity, and schedule.
70% faster app build- Launching as soon as possible is critical for your business. Get faster time to market vs. building everything from scratch.
30% cheaper than outsourcing- Not all software projects need hiring an outsourced team. Have your app built at a lower cost, but the same quality.
Furthermore, you would have access to a well-documented and human-readable source code output, which would be easy to work with ensuring that enhanced or new features could be added easily. Xamun also does not have any hidden fees – unlike most SaaS-based low-code platforms, one would not need to pay a recurring fee to use any software application built on top of the platform.
Finally, you as the client would have the full code and IP ownership once the build phase has been completed. Additionally, the Xamun team can help deploy and maintain your app for you or simply hand over the code to your team for further enhancements and maintenance.