The pros and cons of low code tools for manufacturers

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Every manufacturing organization is striving for continuous improvement, and for that to occur the workforce needs to come with solutions to existing problems. These solutions usually require the usage of software-based technologies that necessitate the participation of IT specialists and developers, resulting in bottlenecks in the deployment of new solutions.

Low code is gaining a huge traction and Gartner predicts that by 2024, 65% of application development activity will be powered by low code.

What is low code development?

Low-code tools give an easy-to-use support for building software applications, eliminating the need for in-house coding specialists. Low code shortens the time it takes to build apps and speeds up the delivery of solutions. As a result, a broader spectrum of people, particularly those with an extensive understanding of the business area, may participate in the development of apps. Manufacturers can use low code platforms to address internal business challenges such as changing a business process or the improvement of operations across the shop floor. These platforms can also be used to enhance supply chain efficiencies and even to find new routes to market.

I go way back with low code, when I started my career in accounts at a food and beverage manufacturer, I noticed that the business systems did not support or provide the visibility into the manufacturing operations to access information and enable decision-making. I then started working on a low code platform solution that would connect the accounting system to the business system and create new product standards, analyze information, identify operational inefficiencies, and inform decision-making. This also enabled collaboration within teams which in turn improved operations, productivity, compliance, and product quality. Therefore, embracing tools that assist organizations create solutions faster like low code should be a consideration to manufacturers.

In this blog we will unpack the pros and cons of low code and why it can be a smart investment for your business in securing a digital future:

The pros of low code

Less need for specialized IT and shorter development cycles – The current supply of software engineers or coding specialists is unable to meet business demand, as we know experienced developers are hard to hire. Low code simplifies the development process, Mendix states that 72% of low code users are developing apps in three months or less.

Faster implementation – Applications can be quickly deployed or updated to meet rapidly changing business or operational requirements.

Innovation – For any business undergoing digital transformation, the low code approach empowers the workforce to build on innate creativity and execute ideas quickly. It allows people within the organization to become citizen developers.

Efficient workflows – Low code can enhance the entire workflow and propel your team’s productivity by equipping them with the powerful tools for quick and smooth app creation. For manufacturers, low code tools can also be used to connect to other systems, such as an internet of Things (IoT) device to collect information from machines across the factory floor to improve efficiencies. These tools are also useful for supplier insights into stock information and could even alert supervisors to potential stock out issues and help drive proactive behavior and prevent bottlenecks.

The cons of low code

Needs to fit in your long-term strategy – Manufacturers should focus on configuring solutions to meet their unique business needs. Before deciding on low code tools, take the time to conduct a detailed needs analysis where you make sure the solutions you choose are fit for your organization today and into the future.

Security – Traditional development does mean there is greater control on the applications from the developers. Citizen developers could inadvertently introduce vulnerabilities. When using low code tools, it’s important to think about security and access rights and ensure all your solutions are developed according to strict security standards.

Can be carelessly managed – Sometimes there’s lack of oversight into how citizen developers build and scale these low code solutions. There always needs to be some level of support and guidance to aid governance and security. Inaccurate information can drive incorrect business processes.

Low code and ERP

It is also vital that your low code tool can connect with your ERP solution as a central point of data. Without an ability to connect, operational visibility may be lost, and product specifications may have to revert to being manually created.  With the provision of low code tools, manufacturers have an opportunity to improve workflows, speed up implementations and even innovate. The key is to ensure that the core business system that you invest in supports low-code extensibility, power tailoring & customization.

Low code tools offer the promise of solving business problems and are enabler of digital transformation. The ERP market is seeing a shift to enable more customizations, but for an organization to adopt low code tools it not only needs technology but a shift in mindset to allow employees to make the changes that are needed within the workplace.

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