Low-Code and No-Code Platforms vs. Custom Development: The Pros and Cons • Slash

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Low-Code and No-Code Platforms vs. Custom Development: The Pros and Cons

January 13, 2022

“The future of coding is no coding at all,” Chris Wanstrath, CEO at Github. 

Today’s dynamic and fast-paced business sphere demands sophisticated and magnificent solutions to be built and used for applications. The traditional development platforms and techniques often lack the ability and create a hindrance in the growth of organizations. To top that, the process is time-consuming and requires skilled developers to carry out coding. 

According to a recent survey, 80% of organizations state that citizen developers have given the IT department more breathing room.

This has given rise to some remarkable digital trends and development solutions that have simplified interfaces and help users to build and launch custom apps with minimal coding. No-code and low-code platforms have been the center of attraction among this and have become promising alternatives for businesses. No-Code Platforms require almost no code handling and use a visual development interface to build software, while Low-code Platforms require minimum hand-coding and have drag-and-drop options to create applications.

Why are low-code and no-code platforms so popular? 

There are a couple of reasons why low-code and no-code platforms gain immense popularity and are being used by businesses over the past few years. The first being the capabilities, flexibility, user experience and cost of development provided by these platforms is excellent if your use-case fits within their capabilities. Not just experienced developers, but citizen developers and non-tech savvy users can also make use of these platforms to avoid coding and instead create quick and smooth applications.     

Secondly, with these platforms, the end-users face very few problems compared to the traditional development techniques and enhance your workflow. They help businesses to acquire early adopters, validate and design the idea, lifecycle support the seamless integration, and ensure faster development and delivery.

For those use cases, low-code and no-code platforms have the potential to reduce development time by 80%? 

Now as every coin has two sides, low-code and no-code platforms have got advantages and disadvantages of their own. So, let’s take a realistic look at them before you decide to choose one for your organization.

The pros and cons of low-code and no-code platforms

PROS

  1. Mitigate Shadow IT

The end-users often opt for a third-party solution, if they don’t get the applications they want from IT and this is called ‘Shadow IT’. A good way to avoid this is to use IT-sanctioned low-code and no-code development platforms so that businesses can build solutions of their own, without consulting or troubling IT and the IT would control the access and data.

  1. Easy Deployment and Deliver Solutions Faster

With a drag and drop interface, visual modeling, and pre-configured data connections the deployment through these platforms is much easier and the seamless integration saves a lot of time as compared to custom development, for any pre-defined use cases that the low-code/no-code solution offers. These platforms are best to use when you have a relatively predictable workload in your product & technology roadmap. The platforms are even preferred whenever the amount of external system integrations is more limited.  

  1. Cross-Platform Functionality

Low-code and no-code platforms allow you to effortlessly integrate Artificial Intelligence, Machine Learning, and other technologies on the rise to empower your applications and leverage the new-age capabilities. 

  1. Economical, and No Expertise Required

You can save on the organization’s resources and time as you may need fewer IT experts to ideate and build an application for you. The cost involved in development could therefore be lower compared to the traditional approach. Also, they are typically good for simpler systems with standard building blocks and well-understood features. Around 47% of the organizations are still not using low-code development platforms as they lack knowledge about it.

CONS

  1. Risk of Shadow IT

There have also been cases wherein the IT team discovers that individuals have been using unapproved low-code tools. This creates security risks and wastes resources at times.  

  1. Limited Functionality and Security

Often the number of functions you can implement through these platforms is limited. At times, you need to custom code to build some unique features. And they do have in-build security protocols, but the security level is not the same as that of other development technologies. They lack lock-in into system and data interoperability; and have limited architecture. As a result to build additional custom features may require complicated work-arounds, compromises on user flows, and may sometimes simply be impossible.

  1. Vendor Lock-In

It is considered as one of the biggest fears associated with these platforms, although it varies from vendor to vendor. Some of them are clean and use standardized code that works everywhere, while others won’t allow you to make changes in applications once you change their tool. The possible lack of lock-ins and data inter-operability often turn people away from low-code platforms, and often rightfully so. Make sure you do your homework before taking the low-code/no-code route and choosing on a platform.

  1. No Technical Background Myth

Although no coding knowledge or expertise is needed to build applications, you still need to have a good technical background to utilize these platforms. You need to examine the features and tools, learn them and adapt over time to use them effectively. The requirement of specialist talent skill sets, for now at least, is an obstacle.

The pros and cons of custom development

PROS

  1. Easy Integration and Enhanced Scalability

You are in complete control of your application, and can easily integrate the software with data and modules. It provides fully customized solutions or complex solutions regardless of whether pre-defined existing low-code building blocks.

  1. Lower Costs on Business Software. Better ROI

Custom development systems are just like business investments. You can see both direct and indirect ROI benefits like reduction in third-party software solutions, improved productivity, and satisfied customers in the long run if you invest in your own infrastructure. 

  1. Advanced Software Security

The software security is completely in your hands and provides enhanced protection levels from the hosting environment to encrypted user access to customers. 

  1. Complete Customization and Functionality Control

Custom software allows you to integrate tools and features as per your business requirements. It is very effective when you want to keep flexibility in your technology roadmap, extend your architecture runway on-the-go and avoid lock-in when the technology stack and integration with other modules are required. Due to better functionality, the modules cater to your needs and extend the architecture runway every time you add more modules or features. So, it’s the software that adapts to your business and not vice-versa. 

CONS

  1. Longer Development Time

The time and expertise required to build custom applications from the software tools you have are often time-consuming. There is some lead time involved before you put your plans into action to develop the final product. 

  1. Initial High Cost of Development

It is indeed a long-term investment, but the initial costs involved are quite high as compared to other development platforms. The product will cost more than the off-the-shelf options due to high customization. Apart from being more expensive, custom development is usually more time-consuming as well. 

  1. No Prototype or Trial Availability

There are no prototypes or trials involved as the software is customized by considering your business needs. Making further iteration in it just delays the process. This said, you can embed product design and rapid prototyping practices to validate the concept of an application and test it with users, as we have outlined in our design research and product design articles.

  1. Technical Expertise Required

In an agile development environment, it is necessary to have a more strategic technological skill set to achieve full benefits from it and to nurture and maintain a mature technology organization.

Final Thoughts

Was that all I needed to know about low-code platforms, no-code platforms, and custom development? Certainly not! There is more on the table, and before you land on a conclusion, choose the right platform for your business, we suggest you think again. 

And that’s why Slash is here for your rescue. We do custom application development through our managed squads model, and provide end-to-end product design services (problem research, concept ideation and design, UX/UI wireframes, rapid prototyping). As an R&D project, we have in the past created boilerplate code generators for ecommerce solutions and API systems integrations for very specific applications, which were no-code solutions. This said, for most of our digital solutions we tend to opt for custom solutions built in an agile way, since our product roadmaps can be hard to predict 12-24-36 months out.

So, if you’re looking to build an agile and cost-effective development solution for your business, do connect with us now

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