By Sylvion Mbi

With 65% of application development projects relying on low-code development by 2024, government agencies are rapidly adopting low-code app development as a cost effective way to modernize legacy applications, streamline app development processes, and achieve digital transformation goals.

Hand touching the words digital transformation that appear on a touchscreen with technology icons

Government agencies adopting low-code app development are seeing a number of benefits:

  • Reduced costs – Using platforms with pre-built templates and intuitive drag-and-drop tools simplifies development so agencies can reduce the time and cost of app development – creating apps with minimal coding.
  • Increased agility – With reduced complexity, agencies can speed up innovation, rapidly build and deploy new features, and quickly respond to changing needs in short sprints versus longer development cycles.
  • Reduced risks – Using pre-built functionality, your organization gains increased reliability with lower risk of errors or project failures. Applications can be tested and refined quickly.
  • Increased scalability – Low code platforms have built-in scalability so it’s easier and faster to evolve as your organization grows and requirements change over time.
  • Improved integration – With pre-built integration with other systems, it’s easier for systems to talk to each other and share data from multiple sources for better collaboration and visibility across the organization.
  • Better security – Built with security in mind, these platforms are highly secure for building and deploying applications that meet your agency’s security, privacy, and compliance requirements.

Government agencies use a variety of low-code platforms including ServiceNow, Salesforce Lighting, Microsoft Power Apps, and Appian. ServiceNow is a leading platform with a range of customization options, ease of integration with other systems, and scalable, flexible architecture. The ideal platform for your agency depends on your requirements, cloud environment, and what you’re looking to solve.

What is low-code app development?

Low-code app development is an increasingly popular software development method that allows developers and non-technical users to create applications with minimal coding. Relying on graphical interfaces and configuration, low-code platforms use pre-built templates and visual, drag-and-drop tools to create apps quickly. It reduces the time, cost, and complexity of rapidly building and deploying custom applications – speeding up digital transformation.

6 Steps to Successful Low Code App Development

Looking to implement a low-code app development project? Getting stuck moving past roadblocks? Below, we’ve detailed a comprehensive 6-step approach and keys to success along your journey.

1. Defining Your Requirements
Defining your app development project can be the toughest step, especially for complex organizations. We see organizations struggle further into the process when they fail to spend adequate time during discovery. You’ll want to begin with workshops with leadership to discuss your vision and define your business and mission requirements. Next, conduct “listening sessions” with all your stakeholders to understand how they’ll use the app. These stakeholder sessions inform which systems need to talk to each other, where the data is coming from, and what processes are required. All of your discovery insights feed into the technical documentation you’ll create as part of your BPR requirements.

Key questions to answer when defining a low-code app development project:

  • Users: Who are all your stakeholders? How will they use the app?
  • Processes: What processes do you have in place? What new processes will you need?
  • Data: Where does all your data come from? What data needs to be shared?
  • Systems: Which systems need to talk to each other?
  • Future State: What are all your requirements? How do we define the future state?

2. Business Process Realignment
In this step, you’ll examine what processes you have now and what processes you’ll need to achieve your desired vision. You’ll conduct “process mining” to sift through fundamental versus non-essential steps and plan out the approach to structurally automate your process workflows. Process mining can be used to identify inefficiencies or bottlenecks, which translate into improved processes and automation. You’ll define your current state architecture and as-is processes. Then, map out the BPR requirements for your future state, which are typically organized around outcomes rather than tasks.

3. System Configuration & Design
A well-thought-out system requires diligent planning, especially in organizations that lack documentation of current processes, systems, and data sources. You’ll want to look at how to improve the integration of systems and data across the organization and ways to automate processes. Story development, where you examine user scenarios for key features and functionality, can be a useful step. Once your requirements are set, you’ll start on system configuration including defining roles and permissions, setting up user accounts, and configuring integration with other systems. Once configured, you’ll design your application using the drag-and-drop tools in your low-code platform to define data models, create forms and workflows, and design the user interface. Then, you’ll test and refine the app to ensure it meets your requirements and functions as expected.

Built Integrated Facility Asset Management System on ServiceNow

A Nuvelo ServiceNow reporting dashboard viewed on a computer screen displays the status of facility asset management assets, tasks and performance metrics.

A Nuvelo ServiceNow reporting dashboard displays the status of this government agency’s facility asset management assets, tasks & performance metrics.

This government agency needed a single enterprise solution for facility asset management to integrate systems and data, efficiently manage assets, assign technicians, and view real-time updates. It was important to move to an easier-to-use system, a connected workplace architecture, and automate processes. Graham Technologies collaborated with this agency to successfully launch its new system built with Nuvolo templates on the ServiceNow platform.

Highlights of Our Work

  • Stakeholders sessions to understand how they’ll use the system & process mining
  • Planned future state requirements, system configuration & design, data migration & integration
  • Led “day-in-the-life” workshops to train users on how to use the systems
  • Continually monitor, manage & enhance features to meet evolving needs & deliver value

Results to Date

  • Reduced costs by using ServiceNow low-code platform with built-in scalability, self-configurable forms, end-user self service, analytics, reporting & mobile-first approach
  • Automated maintenance processes, easy to open tickets & automatically assign work orders
  • Geolocate technicians in the field, view offline & online work orders & track SLAs real-time
  • Evaluate on-time, service turnaround & budget performance metrics real-time
  • Improved decision making, data management & asset management efficiency

4. Data Migration & Integration
It starts with defining the scope of your data migration and integration including the data sources, data types, and data volumes as well as the performance and security requirements. Your integration approach may include APIs, data connectors, and data adapters. You’ll prepare the data sources – filtering, standardizing, and transforming the data as needed – and map the data from the source to the system. Once you’ve verified data mappings are accurate, you’ll perform the data migration and test the integration to confirm data accuracy, security, and performance. Low-code platforms include tools that simplify data integration and migration – making it far easier and speeding up this step.

5. User Training
You’ll want to conduct hands-on user training sessions while users are in front of their computers, in-person or online. Plan out your training to include day-in-the-life scenarios where users will walk through key features and functions that they’ll use regularly as well as the processes and workflows. Also, you may have new tools to point out when implementing a connected workplace architecture. Finally, provide users with ongoing support including online help and technical support.

6. Continually Monitor & Improve
Once you’ve tested and refined your app, you’re ready to deploy it to production and make it available to users. You’ll monitor and evaluate the application regularly to ensure it’s functioning as expected including monitoring performance metrics, error logs, and user feedback. You’ll identify areas for improvement including fixing bugs, adding new features, or improving the user interface so the app continues to meet your changing needs, delivers value, and remains relevant, updated, and secure.

Need a team who knows ServiceNow? Looking for help defining your low code development project?
Graham Technologies helps government agencies with low-code app development to accelerate digital transformation, modernize legacy applications, and gain cost efficiencies. Our clients experience a number of advantages – cost, speed, productivity, scalability, integration, security, and collaboration. We stand out from peers with a hands-on approach where we listen to how stakeholders will use the app, identify systems and data that need to talk to each other and map out processes to achieve your vision. Our cloud architects, engineers, and security experts work daily to architect, develop, monitor, and manage cloud-based applications. Having migrated hundreds of apps to the cloud for federal civilian, defense, security, and intel agencies, we’re well-versed in creating apps that automate complex workflows and utilize low-code platforms to accelerate development and reduce costs.

Contact us today to learn how Graham Technologies can help your organization use low-code app development to modernize apps, gain cost efficiencies, and accelerate digital transformation.