Sometime during WW2, Winston Churchill supposedly remarked that one should never waste a good crisis. Whether he actually said that or not, we may never find out. Either way, the belief that a time of great difficulty often brings about far-reaching changes is now widely held.
If there is a silver lining to the COVID-19 pandemic, it is exactly that: it has accelerated digital innovation in sectors that lag behind other industries in optimizing or transforming their services. The government sector is one that is now catching up.
High time for digitalization
In a world where we can do just about anything online, we expect the public sector to conform and adapt. If we can shop for groceries or stream the latest hit show with only a few taps on our smartphones, surely government bodies should be able to provide a similarly fast and easy-to-use experience? We have grown accustomed to the convenience of prompt, efficient and secure service, and we don’t want to settle for less. Government agencies, however, have found that some of the barriers to digital transformation are not so easy to break down.
Often, the public sector still relies on decades-old legacy systems that are ill-equipped to deal with the challenges posed by our digital age. Siloed and frequently paper-based, business processes are inefficient and don’t lend themselves to effective, reliable data sharing and service delivery. Additionally, operating these outdated systems eats into the available funds that are already limited. At the same time, plagued by budgetary constraints, governments struggle to build and implement modern, sustainable models to replace the old ones – it’s hard to be innovative and enterprising when keeping existing services running consumes most of your time and money.
There is, however, an agile, dynamic platform that can help governments address these challenges and navigate the digital landscape: low code development.
Low code, high standards
As the name suggests, a low code approach makes it possible for users with little to no coding experience – so-called citizen developers – to create applications. This considerably increases the speed of building enterprise applications and makes the process more democratic: stakeholders other than professional developers can also contribute, which helps achieve more specified goals.
Low code platforms work according to a simple principle: they use graphical user interfaces and provide pre-built components with common functionality. Although basic IT skills are required, the highly intuitive visual tools that represent development workflows are easier to understand than strands of code, and you can concentrate on what matters most: the functionality of the application you are designing.
Low code development can benefit any industry from financial services to retail to healthcare, and the government sector is no exception.
High rewards for the public sector
In addition to speeding up and democratizing the development process – two key features already mentioned above – low code platforms offer a whole host of other benefits.
Given that a department can build several applications once a low code platform has been purchased, there is no need for multiple large and expensive procurement processes. The number of personnel required for the development and management of the application can also be reduced. As a result, costs can be avoided or saved both upfront and in the long term. On the other hand, since outcomes are realized much faster than with a traditional waterfall approach, time to value is increased significantly.
A shortage of skilled developers often results in them being overworked, and they struggle to cope with the growing demand for software solutions. By enabling citizen developers to build their own software, low code platforms also ease the burden on IT. In fact, the leading research and advisory company Gartner predicts that, by the end of 2025, half of all new low code clients will be outside the IT organization. A related advantage of low code platforms is that they integrate with already existing systems and thus accelerate legacy modernization.
Government policies and legislation frequently change, meaning your software has to change. You need to update information and adjust processes, which takes a long time. Through its flexibility and agility, however, low code automation helps you adapt to regulatory changes fast and smoothly. Similarly, it can prevent human errors such as filling out documents incorrectly and thus clear or at least mitigate bureaucratic bottlenecks.
Another aspect of low code flexibility is what a recent advisory paper by KPMG, one of the Big Four consulting organizations, calls “multichannel consistency.” This refers to the ability of low code platforms to build once and deploy on various channels so that both web and mobile users have the same experience regardless of the device they happen to be using.
When a low code platform is first procured, it is of course inspected for technical requirements – security, compliance, performance, scalability, etc. – but since it can be easily configured to run in government environments, there is no need for protracted vetting and due diligence processes. Also, with providers having invested a lot of effort and expertise in ensuring security, their platforms are robust, which allows governments to focus on the application they are developing.
By enabling government employees to develop and maintain applications in a self-determined manner, low code platforms can help bring about the much-needed digital transition within the public administration. The KPMG paper cited above takes it even further and describes low code as the future of application development and “the unifying fabric of the digital enterprise.” A Nobel laureate in literature, Churchill himself couldn’t have put it more eloquently.
Get a personal demo of VisionX, our low code platform designed to meet the needs of IT experts and business users alike, to find out how your business can benefit.