I’ve worked in roles sat between developers and clients for the best part of 25 years. In this time, I’ve experienced the vast frustrations felt on both sides of the fence when both developing and /or buying software. These aren’t segregated issues; they flow both ways and I can empathise with both. Developers are affected by client’s frustrations, dissatisfaction and changing demands, and clients can certainly suffer as a result of lengthy development cycles, or limitations when buying software and off-the-shelf solutions. It has always been an all-encompassing issue. Generally speaking, clients (the business) have typically had two choices; build it themselves (either internally or by engaging with an external development team) or buy “off-the-shelf”. If it’s the build route, professional developers typically then have had one choice – hard coding applications. The language or programmes used vary but ultimately the ‘norm’ would be some form of custom coding.
So, to build or not to build? In this blog, I’ll share my experience from both sides and then introduce low-code – a revolutionised way of doing things that benefits both the business and IT and delivers true collaboration!
For developers, coding a bespoke application using traditional development methods is a time-consuming process. Ultimately, this means that it is usually an expensive option and can result in inflexible and restrictive solutions. Because of long development cycles, solutions often cannot be deployed early to gain competitive advantage or deliver benefit quickly – often pushing the cost break-even point well into the future.
Accompanying high costs and long timeframes, it’s also frustrating for business owners and stakeholders as there is little (or in many cases, no) visibility until release. Often the business requirement has changed well before the initial release is anywhere near ready. At which point it becomes clear that the vision and the development have gone at tangents to each other leading to further costs and delay. Whilst historically coding bespoke applications has been the only choice for organisations with niche or unique processes, it isn’t the ideal solution for many.
“Off-the-shelf” systems are great if you have a common and entirely prescribed process, but what if what you do is different, or your processes vary over time, and you need to adapt and alter them? Habitually, organisations have bought off-the-shelf solutions as the closest fit and due to budget constraints. The result is that they then suffer the costs of a false economy in trying to bend inflexible systems to their unique requirements. Other issues can occur such as operating a best of breed approach in one area of the business and then having the problem of disparate solutions and siloed IT systems across the wider landscape. These systems that do not talk to each other lead to inefficiencies and a poor user experience.