We have talked about how low-code / no-code development can help non-technical business personnel, professional developers, and IT administrators by enabling them to automate tasks in their departments and lines of business, saving their companies time and money.
Today’s lesson will focus on challenges, roadblocks, and coping strategies.
No Overarching Strategy or Roadmap
A first common challenge is a lack of overarching strategy. If a company or organization hasn’t sufficiently thought through both why and how hyperautomation will be implemented, this may inadvertently make things more complicated and less efficient rather than more. Connected to this is the plan for how citizen development will play a role.
A clear vision and a good strategy must explicitly outline the company’s needs and contain specific, achievable goals that act as a roadmap for employees at all levels. If the company isn’t clear about its goals and how to achieve them, then its employees will not work together effectively.
Lack of Transparency About Software in Use
You don’t only need to know where you are going with a strategy, you also need to know where you are now. There are already lots of software tools in use in your company to support the management of activities. These tools may not be connected to each other or not. They may not be sanctioned by IT or live in shadow IT. Companies and their employees need to have a complete and accurate picture of the tools they already have before investing in new ones. Any new tool will probably need to be integrated with one or more of the existing applications. The adoption level of those tools and the skills required to use them is also important to know.
Incomplete or Missing Documentation
Another roadblock that can stop progress is a lack of documentation. In the Business Process Primer Unit of this learning journey, we explain how well-documented processes are vital for a high-performance company. Documenting every procedure and process, as well as every feature and function of in-house software and web applications is important to ensure that these products will remain a viable part of the company’s toolkit.
Good documentation also serves as the basis for two other important activities. These are enhancing the software, and developing the training programs necessary for other people to be able to competently use the software products.
Finally, establishing a company-wide policy of documenting absolutely everything about how a product works will be very helpful when implementing low-code / no-code development. When you or someone who reports to you begins to work on hyperautomation, being able to see every step involved in the creation of a new app or extension will make it easier for other, non-technical, personnel to develop their own apps and extensions. Documentation performed in tandem with low-code / no-code development can reveal any flaws in the product or problems with the process, allowing IT professionals to step in and give advice or make corrections. The earlier this is done, the better.
Inadequate Training Opportunities
Another obvious, but critical, point is that citizen development is not going to happen if you don’t have the time or resources to be trained and to train other citizen developers, professional developers, and IT administrators in the best practices and techniques.
Without sufficient training, even the best citizen developers cannot use low-code / no-code tools in an optimal way. Without sufficient training, even the best professional developers and IT administrators will spend valuable time fixing mistakes that inadequately trained citizen developers have made.
Time is money, and spending time and money up-front on training will lead to saving much more time and money in the long run.
The Drawbacks of Shadow IT
We previously learned that shadow IT is any kind of technical workaround or software application that people use without the knowledge or explicit approval of the company or organization they work for. Usually, people turn to unauthorized solutions when the work-related problems they are dealing with have become so bad that they feel they can no longer wait for the IT department to step in.
While shadow IT can sometimes provide quick fixes to urgent, time-dependent needs, there are long-term costs and consequences that can have a far-reaching impact on the health and growth of your department and your organization as a whole. One of the most serious consequences of shadow IT has to do with security breaches. When connected to a company’s system, some unvetted third-party apps may contain back doors that outsiders can exploit to collect confidential or sensitive data. Outsiders have also been known to use updates to third-party apps as a way to install malware or transmitting viruses.
Another important consideration is compatibility. The time spent fixing well-intentioned shadow IT solutions can delay, and possibly even derail, efforts to implement no-code / low-code solutions. If you think you have found a good third-party solution, be sure to get IT expert input before deploying it.
Summary: Challenges, Roadblocks, and Coping Strategies
Now, let’s review the major roadblocks to hyperautomation and citizen development that we’ve covered here. These include:
- Not having a company-wide vision to guide the process
- Not knowing what tools and capabilities you and your company already have
- Not having complete documentation for processes, existing software and software products under development
- Not providing adequate resources to provide training
- Having to deal with the consequences of shadow IT