When agencies can develop apps faster and scale quickly from a single platform, they eliminate downtime and manual workarounds and stay focused on the mission.
Early in the pandemic, government agencies accelerated the implementation and use of digital technologies as offices and in-person interactions shut down and staff moved to remote work. This fast and necessary transition left agencies re-evaluating their long-term strategies to ensure they could quickly adapt to any significant future changes without driving up costs.
As agencies settle into their new work environments, there will be an increased need for technologies that support this way of working. The challenge is that the inundation of service and program needs over the past 24 months will only increase. And the new Executive Order on transforming federal customer experience and service delivery signed in December 2021 will only accelerate the need to increase efficiency. For government agencies, implementing the right low-code technology strategy will help them meet this mandate while overcoming complex infrastructure hurdles typically caused by legacy systems.
Many government agencies still consider low code as something more basic -- dragging and dropping to create an application -- but low-code platforms have much more advanced capabilities that go beyond these simpler functions. In 2022, low code will move past smaller scale use cases and instead drive better business agility and innovation for their agencies.
Get back to basics and start with a strategy
This seems simple, but a critical part of implementing a low-code strategy is not simply purchasing the technology, but really understanding how the technology can impact an agency long term. While digital transformation needs across agencies vary, the guidance for how organizations can get started on their low-code strategy is pretty much the same: determine what the goals are and who within the agency can help meet these goals. Whether it’s increased collaboration across shared services or securing sensitive information, IT leaders should begin by outlining roles and responsibilities for each team member. From there, users can identify who has the appropriate knowledge and skills to kickstart projects quickly and take on leadership positions to ensure others contribute. With the proper guardrails in place, teams can build without constant oversight, break down barriers and empower employees to innovate.
Get done quickly and more effectively
The right low-code solution has the potential to enable comprehensive enterprise modernization at scale. Users can use low code to create desktop and mobile applications that are easier to operationalize and manage across an agency. Additionally, because low code enables repeatable designs, developers won’t have to recode new apps every time the agency has a new business need. This reusability means eliminating the need to rewrite or rip and replace an existing application or system to keep up with changing demands. This saves agencies time and money as well as taxpayer dollars.
Empower all employees to contribute
Pro developers are in high demand right now, and a pandemic-related talent shortage has made it even more challenging for government agencies to hire the skilled staff they need. To both retain developer talent and empower citizen developers to innovate as part of a greater digital transformation strategy, it’s important agencies have the right tools for them to do so. With a low-code platform, pro developers can more easily make changes to larger projects, such as a new constituent application process that needs to quickly go digital without rewriting code or causing disruption to the existing website experience. Additionally, low code helps pro developers try new things quickly and also move on quickly if they fail, which can be especially important in the face of a major change such as a pandemic or other significant event.
Additionally, with appropriate guardrails and templates available within a low-code platform, citizen developers and business users have the tools to quickly create internal workflows and applications, helping take some of the pressure off IT. This can significantly improve staff experiences, making it easier for employees to get their work done more efficiently and ultimately better serve constituents.
Agencies are already seeing success
The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives looked to consolidate four legacy systems into a single solution for entering, accessing and compiling data to help improve the speed, efficiency and accuracy of tasks critical to their mission: protecting communities from violent crime. Using low-code technology, the agency developed its first application one month ahead of schedule. During the transformation, developers delivered one to two updates weekly – a pace of change that would have been impossible to reach with the legacy system. Using agile best practices, the agency created a technique used by nearly 1,000 employees in 75 field offices, effectively supporting the needs and mission of field agents to perform critical tasks faster.
The agency took a business-driven approach to the solutions’ development using low-code technology instead of an IT-driven one. This meant including experts from the different business areas within the agency as part of the project team and collaborating by sharing data so that it is instantly accessible across the entire system rather than compartmentalized in different applications. This approach resulted in a system that most effectively supported the needs and mission of field agents and improved public safety by providing access to accurate and reliable information in real time.
Low code gives government agencies the ability to hit the ground running while meeting their digital transformation goals and working more easily within budgetary guidelines. When agencies develop apps faster and scale quickly from a single platform, they can eliminate downtime and manual workarounds and stay focused on the mission. By bringing people, processes and systems together, low code help agencies empower users across departments and different skill levels to ultimately create better experiences for employees and constituents alike.
Doug Averill is vice president and industry market lead, government, at Pegasystems.