For many organizations worldwide, workflow digitalization efforts are either in progress or being seriously considered. Rules-based digital workflows not only increase process efficiency, but also increase business resilience and agility. They can manage, consolidate, and respond to large amounts of complex data – thus promoting employee productivity while reducing human errors.
Key to workflow digitalization efforts is the creation of bespoke applications that serve different roles and business functions. However, with the undersupply of tech talent and high costs of maintaining an in-house IT team, the demand for new apps far outstrips quality supply. Low-code development has been touted as a solution to this challenge, for its potential to be used by non-tech professionals (or “citizen developers”).
Renewed interest in recent years has helped to expand the capabilities of low-code development platforms. When low-code development is merged with a workflow digitalization platform, such as in Weaver’s E-cology platform, workflow apps creation can support a company’s operational and strategic goals over the long term, rather than be a one-off project. In this way, the low-code development platform can empower business teams to digitize manual, paper-based processes with speed and less resources.
What is Low-Code Development?
Low-code development refers to the creation of apps using pre-built objects in a drag-and-drop manner . Unlike traditional app development, low-code development does not require extensive coding by professional-level IT personnel. A citizen developer is able to develop new capabilities after a short fundamental training. This allows those who have the best business domain knowledge in your organization to drive the workflow digitalisation journey. As compared to engaging an external consultant team, this eliminates communication gaps and saves costs at the same time.
While traditional app development may need thousands of lines of coding to achieve the end result, a lot of the product has already been pre-built in low-code development. Furthermore, since much of the UI framework is already in place, citizen developers can focus more on refining app features to meet business requirements. This way, not only will the development and deployment cycle be faster than that of traditional development, project objectives can be met with greater accuracy. Another significant value-add is that because all apps are created on a single platform, all end-users will have a consistent user experience that is designed to be easy and intuitive.
How Can Low-Code Development be Used to Digitize Workflows?
Many companies already have an existing application landscape, which enables a level of automation and process efficiency. However, manual processes often still exist, due to the following:
- When data and processes get exponentially too complicated, personnel often still have to turn to manual or paper-based processes due to the limitations of existing systems
- It’s hard to upgrade legacy systems.
- Changing business needs that cannot be addressed by the current system or digital capabilities.
- There are high costs to constantly implementing change requests.
- Changes in organizational structure, business processes, and corporate policy that require changes in workflows or the creation of new ones.
A low-code development platform can be used to address this gap by creating workflow apps quickly and be able to cope with changing business needs. These workflow apps help to connect people, processes, and data within an organization and can be applied to various business functions, which may include customer service management, contract management and approval, expenses management, project management, employee self-services, and so on.
Taking contract management as an example: using low-code development, the team can create a workflow app to cover the entire contract management lifecycle, including the preparation, signing, and monitoring of contracts, as well as the data transactions in between those processes. At the same time, various dashboards and reports can be generated for specific users to have an overview of vital information and data insights from contract management activities.
In digitizing workflows, a low-code development engine can play a big role in helping companies create a higher level of digital capability and flexibility in handling unique, complex situations.
How Does Low-Code Development Work in Weaver’s E-cology Platform?
As implied by its name, low-code development is meant to be simple and intuitive. In E-cology, the citizen developer is provided with a visual menu of preconfigured items to design a workflow app. The main steps of low-code app development are outlined as follows:
- Design the fields (data to be captured and circulated in the workflow)
- Choose from predefined system fields to design the fields of different digital forms
- Upload existing Excel template to create fields quickly
- Design the Digital Form:
- Different digital forms can be created to streamline the required workflow/business processes
- E-cology offers a visual form designer similar to Excel’s UI so that users can design such digital forms easily
- Create Workflows and Rules
- Using the built-in workflow engine, users can quickly configure the workflow, routing rules, authorisations within a close-to-100% drag and drop environment
- Actions before after each node of the workflow can also be designed to have more complex functions (e.g. trigger a sub-workflows, action to external system, update of master data etc)
- Test and Deploy the Workflows
- E-cology offers automated testing capability to help users to test the defects in workflows and identify the place to change
- The testing can be simulated using the production data under a test mode to ensure the functionality meet the business needs
- The workflow can be extracted as an object and transport to production quickly
- Maintenance and Change of Workflows
- The system also provides version management of the workflows and allows quick deployment and switching of versions
- Changes to address new business requirements can also be quickly applied through configurations instead of coding
Advantages of E-cology’s Low-Code Development Engine
- Cost-effective: Low-code development requires less IT and development resources as well as less time. This also allows for agile development, for example in times of crisis (such as COVID) or when a strategic direction has changed.
- Increased efficiency and productivity: Workflow apps created via low-code development speed up workflow processes for organizations. Without manual, fragmented processes, both employees and leaders alike have access to the functionalities, knowledge, and insights they need to better serve customer demands.
- Integration with existing application landscape: Through API, any workflow app created can be integrated with existing enterprise systems and external applications such as SAP, SalesForce, Tableau, and many more.
- Enables multidisciplinary collaboration: Due to the low technical barrier, specific employees from various business units can be assigned to participate or collaborate in the development of apps. Direct input from the relevant teams can help to create effective, holistic solutions, with assistance from IT personnel if more extensive customizations are needed.
- Easy maintenance: As low-code development is self-documenting, you won’t have to dedicate in-house IT resources to do extensive documentation. The platform will generate a graphical representation of the entire process, including the data structures and transactions between modules — which are critical for maintenance after the app is launched.
- Security protection: Apps created through low-code development features built-in governance control to protect original data, processes, and operational integrity. End-users are protected and compliance standards are met without extensive monitoring.
- Cross platform capability: Encouraging enterprise mobility, end-users will be able to access completed apps across different platforms, including their desktop as well as iOS and Android mobile operating systems.
- Scalable sophistication: Don’t be fooled by the straightforward drag-and-drop configuration. Low-code development is able to build up complex, high-level workflow apps that manage thousands of business rules at an enterprise scale.
The Value of a Low-Code Workflow Digitalization Engine to Your Organization
Digital workflows have become a necessity for organizations seeking to stay competitive and agile. To that end, Weaver’s low-code development engine accelerates workflow digitalization through fast deployment and minimal resources. Beyond time and cost-saving, you will have access to a scalable solution that support continuous innovation and addresses constantly changing business needs.