Truly digital firms have business models with technology at the core, and this technology is software. For such firms, software is an expression of the business. To become truly digital, complementary approaches to people, process, and technology are needed. The unresolved need for more developers (people) is well and painfully understood. The need for agile practices (process) is also well understood but hard to achieve. The choice of technology is often incorrectly separated from these other two — especially from agile, which is usually seen as a general set of practices to apply with equal success to any technology. But this is a case where technology has a strong and positive impact on both people and process. Our assertion: The missing piece in digital thinking today is low-code. Low-code platforms and agile values, principles, and practices all fuel each other. How?
As a movement, agile aspires to uncover “better ways of developing software by doing it and helping others do it.” Over the ensuing years, everything and everyone embraced the language of agile, but actual agility has lagged. We believe that low-code development platforms are the skeleton key that unlocks the next generation of agile development. Why? Low-code practices enact the Agile Manifesto’s values:
Low-Code: A Better Way Of Developing Software
In low-code shops, sprints are shorter, experimentation is easier, businesspeople are more apt to embrace agile practices, development is done more collaboratively and with shared understanding (often with the team together in the same room), and the fundamental separation between technologists and business customers is either reduced or eliminated. All this goes far beyond the techniques in existing agile frameworks, which were created for a high-code development world in which tech skills are arcane and end users are distinct and separate from developers. Low-code as a technology naturally leads to the agile behaviors that change management programs often fail to accomplish alone. For these reasons, many firms find that their low-code teams are far more advanced in agile practices than their high-code teams — and many only started on their agile journeys primarily because they adopted low-code.
Agile Governance Helps Other People Do It
Applying a ponderous, risk-averse, waterfall style of management to low-code development makes no sense and would contradict the technology’s value. Instead, agile principles and practices should be the source of the light-touch governance required to bring discipline and scale low-code properly. Professional low-code development teams commonly apply this discipline through formal agile frameworks and methodologies (e.g., scrum, kanban). Agile practices introduced pragmatically, however, also help bring discipline to citizen development (e.g., prioritization of user stories to implement, user acceptance testing, minimum viable products at speed).
To learn more about the relationship between low-code development and agile practices, see our recent report: Low-Code And Agile: Rocket Fuel For Digital Business.
(written with Zachary Stone)