By Zahid Jiwa, VP UK & Ireland, OutSystems
Every day we hear that IT teams are under growing pressure to deliver an ever increasing number of apps. Managers and executives want to see immediate results without understanding the amount of work that goes into coding an application by hand. Our research showed that 48% of UK businesses have a back-log of 10-20 apps stacking up because they can’t keep up with the current level of projects, let alone get on top of them. However, many of these delays come from simple choke-points in the process that can be easily resolved.
Initially, at least, the choke point in application delivery appears to be the development team. Months pass as the backlog grows, and the business demands to know why apps haven’t seen the light of day. Half of those surveyed (50%) said the main challenge they faced was the time it was taking. Hand coding an application for one mobile platform can take weeks, even months – never mind coding it for multiple platforms. Organisations try to solve this problem by automating manual coding processes with rapid application development (RAD) tools. And it helps – to a degree.
RAD tools enable development teams to build applications faster so they can move on to the next project. But it doesn’t solve the ultimate goal – getting applications to customers faster – because applications must still be tested and the infrastructure configured. None of this is fully automated. The plethora of tools available for trying to implement continuous integration and continuous delivery must be manually configured and integrated using scripts. So now operations becomes the choke point in application delivery.
But the problem doesn’t end there, either. In some ways, it only begins when the application goes into production. As soon as they begin using an application, users have the expectation that improvements will be many and often. This puts the onus back on development to improve the mobile experience, deliver new functionality, and fix bugs on existing mobile apps – in addition to developing new ones. The bottleneck has now come full circle.
Looking beyond development
The key to preventing these bottlenecks is to consider the application lifecycle as a whole. In addition to accelerating the development process using a low-code platform, IT organisations should automate the entire delivery process as well - from development, through test, and into production. A solution that combines all of these into one Rapid Application Delivery (RAD) platform ensures that no single point in the application lifecycle becomes a choke point. A RAD platform that understands the dependencies between all apps and infrastructures can cleanly automate, verify and govern the delivery backlog with single-click speed and efficiency.
Automating the entire application lifecycle also helps IT organisations transition to and embrace a DevOps culture. Because Development and Operations teams don’t talk to one another, share the same goals, or use the same tools, DevOps can become particularly challenging when it comes to change management. A RAD platform addresses these challenges. One platform controls the entire change management process, making it simple for Development and Operations to have a role inside of the platform and limiting potential errors that result in a failure. In short, a RAD platform facilitates DevOps efforts without increasing risk.
A RAD platform offers another interesting benefit. It can actually increase application adoption. There are often times when users will open an application, use it once or twice, and then decide whether to continue to use the app based on whether it is updated regularly. Users will stick with even a mediocre mobile app if they know that it is updated frequently and continually improving.
To successfully deliver and implement a modern application, organisations must consider the app’s entire life-cycle. Pushing an app out the door as quickly as possible with no thought to how and when it will be updated is simply creating another choke-point. A RAD platform can help with this but only if it is used in the right way. Instead of automating development at the cost of operations, focus on the ultimate goal: creating an app the consumer wants to use. Combining a DevOps mindset with a RAD platform that automates the entire life-cycle can do just that.