Digital transformation via low-code options


How low-code helps agencies overcome their modernization hurdles

Government agencies are responsible for operating critical infrastructure that constituents depend on in their day-to-day lives. If these agencies managing agriculture, defense, education, energy, food safety and transportation don’t have the tools to do their jobs efficiently and effectively, millions of Americans' lives could be disrupted.

Agencies' IT infrastructure ensures government services remain helpful and easy to use, while keeping data secure. At the same time, agencies face modernization challenges as they manage constituent data and ensure employees have the right tools to do their jobs effectively. While the health care and financial services industries are making massive strides toward digital transformation, government agencies are plagued with outdated systems that are costly to maintain and hard to update.

The budget for IT spending at federal agencies is estimated to be almost $88 million in FY 2020, with almost half supporting IT infrastructure, management and security. Many are still using traditional code-based development, which requires frequent rewriting, rebuilding and updating systems as IT needs change. This practice can lead to slowed productivity and efficiency, which in turn impacts the constituent experience. So how can agencies overcome this major productivity hurdle?

Using a low-code approach to modernize government IT

While the adoption of agile procurement and delivery, cloud and DevSecOps is helping government agencies toward  their modernization and digital transformation goals, actually getting these technologies integrated and quickly activated is still a challenge. To increase collaboration across IT and business teams and to ensure apps can go to production quickly, agencies must consider an approach that upends traditional code-based development.

By applying automation to code development, agencies will be better able to solve critical problems quickly and efficiently and deliver useful apps that meet the demands of today’s constituents and can evolve as those demands change. Low-code can be a major differentiator for agencies looking to enhance their development capabilities by:

1. Enhancing productivity: Agencies today are already resource-strapped. In fact, Gartner predicts that through 2021, the market demand for app development will increase five times faster than IT teams’ capacity to deliver. Low-code app development can help agencies bridge the skills shortage because it doesn't require large teams of programmers. Instead, it empowers “citizen developers,” giving non-programmers the ability to build, change or update applications. This collaboration between business users and IT staff delivers solutions faster.

2. Empowering innovation and collaboration: Digital transformation needs across agencies can differ greatly – the civilian side uses shared services so collaboration needs are greater. Defense agencies, however, work with highly sensitive information, making them hyper-focused on information security. Yet no matter what an agency’s specific needs are, agility is critical. With low-code, all stakeholders are brought into the development process so agencies can leverage the knowledge of workers from every department to increase information sharing and collaboration.

3. Scaling and extending apps: Low-code apps can scale or evolve with the scope of an agency’s digital transformation goals over time and are therefore easy to keep up to date. With low-code, agencies don’t have to completely rewrite systems – they just tap into their systems' existing information to create new processes and workflows to drive better outcomes. With low-code, agencies are better equipped to extend an app into new channels, like mobile applications, self-service portals or online chat, making it easier to evolve to meet the needs of the constituents who use these channels.

The path forward: How agencies can realize the benefits of low-code adoption

To ensure they are actively working toward their modernization goals, agencies must first foster a culture that encourages low-code adoption and gets staff excited about its prospects. As a first step in the low-code journey, agencies should identify their pain points and designate the champions needed to get projects off the ground.

From there, they can involve the seasoned subject matter experts experienced in the development process. Once all stakeholders are involved, the team should identify the pain points for app users and determine how they can be alleviated without disruption. As soon as smaller scale low-code projects get off the ground, others will begin to see their success and be encouraged to be part of the development moving forward.

By encouraging a culture focused on low-code adoption and implementing the technology to do so, agencies can more easily realize their digital transformation goals and while meeting the changing needs of legislators, constituents and employees. 

About the Author

Doug Averill is the global government business line leader with Pega.

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