Five tips for building a low-code team
By 2024, more than 65% of all software programs will be implemented with low-code, according to a forecast by the US analyst firm Gartner.¹ In the course of digitisation, this is also more than necessary, because low-code technology makes software applications much more efficient and thus more cost-effective in terms of productivity than “conventional” software. In addition, applications are developed to meet the individual requirements of the future users. The following article with five helpful tips and suggestions for setting up and establishing a low-code team in a company shows what this looks like in reality, i.e. how the people behind the computers work.
#1 Don’t look for the classic computer scientist
Low-code teams are composed in a fundamentally different way than classic IT or development teams. Therefore it is first of all necessary to explain how low-code developers work. They do not write any program code themselves or, if they do, only a small amount of it, but work with predefined elements that they assemble into an application using the low-code platform. This means that they do not necessarily have to have extensive computer science knowledge. They are application developers and must be able to understand multiple models, rule-based systems and all kinds of declarative descriptions. Low-code developers create applications directly adapted to the future user, who is integrated into the entire development process. This means that the working method is very agile and characterised by much communication. A computer scientist can of course have all these skills, but does not necessarily have to be the best choice to build a low-code team.
#2 Career changers are very well suited as low-code developers
For working with a low-code platform, lateral entrants are very well suited. A certain scientific background should be present, which is given for example by a study in mathematics, physics, engineering or also bio-, geo- and business informatics. But also a degree in business administration can be the basis for working as a low-code developer. The most important thing is the ability to think in a structured abstract way, and the field of study is less relevant. Career changers with no or little computer science background often approach work with low-code with a more unbiased approach, which can make it easier to get used to the job. Compared to computer scientists, they often have more flexible thinking patterns, because a classical programmer had to learn to think algorithmically and procedurally.
Incidentally, this development also benefits the high shortage of skilled workers in IT. According to Bitcom, there are currently more unfilled IT positions than ever before. 124,000 jobs were open in Germany in 2019, which represents an increase of 51 percent.² In the tight job market you have a much higher chance of finding new employees by looking for career changers.
#3 Four lateral entrants meet one computer scientist
A low-code team is made up of IT specialists, IT-affine business users and career changers of all kinds. Our experience has shown that a project team consisting of one IT specialist and four non-IT people works most efficiently. Depending on the size and scope of the task at hand, the number of team members may of course vary, but should be in a similar proportion. Thus, on the one hand, there is sufficient IT knowledge, and on the other hand, the entire team benefits from the many different qualifications and skills of the other team members. There is no hierarchy between IT professionals and non-IT professionals, each is responsible for the area in which he/she has the most knowledge.
The low-code team is then either located in the respective departments of the company or directly in IT. In this case, however, it should work clearly separated from the IT core systems, so that the different working methods do not correlate.
#4 Get knowledge from outside
If you simply put the low-code team in a room and let them work with the new tools, the project will certainly not succeed, because without knowledge of low-code it is of course not possible. So far, low-code technology has not yet been included in university curricula because it is simply too new. Therefore only the providers themselves or independent coaches can spread the knowledge about the technology in the form of training courses. One week of intensive learning then conveys the most important operating functions of a low-code platform, but by no means the entire way of thinking and working. Some teams will then certainly be able to find a way themselves and others will need help from coaches. These coaches can then be permanent team members at the beginning of the project and thus accompany the way to establishing the low-code team.
#5 Work according to the Design Thinking Principle
Your team has now been successfully assembled and trained, but still has to find the right way of working. When working with low-code platforms, the principles of Design Thinking have proven to be useful. These principles are also relatively new and part of agile project management methods. Here, the human being, i.e. the developers and the users, with their characteristics and needs, is at the centre of attention. In everyday application development work, this means that the future users are an integral part of the entire project team. At the beginning, the requirements of the project are analysed in detail. This leads to the following phases of Design Thinking in low-code projects, which can also be arranged in variable ways:
- Define viewpoint
- Find ideas
- Develop prototype
A constant ” watching over the shoulder” is of course not necessary, weekly meetings and individual coordination are much more sensible. The most important thing when working according to the Design Thinking principles is the question: “Is this really what we need?” This way, no resources are wasted.
Karsten Noack has published more articles in the t2informatik Blog, including
Karsten Noack is founder and CEO of Scopeland Technology GmbH. As a visionary, he already developed the basics of the technology in the mid-90s, which is today known as low-code and as the key technology of digitisation. He has extensive experience in the use of low-code platforms in large companies and public authorities and sees himself not only as a managing director in the usual sense, but much more as an engine of product development and as a visionary, and somehow also as an evangelist for new thinking in the IT industry. Karsten Noack is a member of the main board of BITKOM and is involved in several business networks in the Berlin region.