A Low-Code Approach to Application Lifecycle Management

Author: Michelle Gardner, Director, Content Marketing, Appian

The benefits of using a low-code application development platform for designing and building enterprise applications are well documented. But what about after the application has been built, tested, and deployed? 

Far from being the end of the story, once applications are in users’ hands, some of the most difficult work is still ahead. Upgrading, enhancing, and applying fixes are all part of the software development lifecycle. And depending on your development environment, these changes can either be time-consuming projects that keep you from more exciting and innovative work, or they can be carried out quickly and easily so as to keep processes humming and business users happy. This kind of streamlined maintenance is what you get with a low-code development platform.

What is application lifecycle management?

Application lifecycle management is a necessary discipline for keeping business applications functioning properly. It includes a combination of regular updates consisting of enhancements, improvements, and bug fixes, and emergency deployments typically resulting from significant issues, risks, threats within the production system, and other ad hoc interventions. Whereas the updates and enhancements are scheduled and executed at set intervals—often in quarterly cadences—the ad hoc fixes are harder to plan for. This unforeseen work can strain your development team and lead to an increase in technical debt. It's therefore vital that you take advantage of every means available to streamline application lifecycle management. A low-code platform can provide just such an advantage over traditional methods of developing and maintaining your business applications.

Keeping your enterprise applications healthy.

Just as we need regular medical checkups to keep our bodies healthy and strong, enterprise software requires frequent enhancements, adaptations, and fixes to run properly and deliver the kind of functionality the business needs to operate smoothly. Without these updates, your software applications can become outdated, leading to users bypassing approved processes with workarounds and tools that are not sanctioned by your organization. This can prove detrimental if those workarounds open the organization up to security or compliance risks. Keeping the applications that support your business processes as healthy as possible is crucial—and it’s easier to do that with a low-code platform.

Keeping our physical bodies in good working order can be as easy as adding some exercise to our daily routines, improving our diet, or taking medications for chronic conditions. But quick fixes are not always possible when addressing issues within your software landscape. If your applications were built using traditional software development methods, the turnaround time and effort necessary to make enhancements and fixes could be placing an undue burden on your developers. But low-code application development, with its inherent speed and flexibility during the design and build phases of your development projects, can also bring considerable benefit to your development team when it comes to application lifecycle management.

The low-code approach to software development, management, and maintenance.

Low-code has proven its value in helping organizations design and build enterprise applications quickly and with better alignment between the business and IT. But rapid application development is only part of the equation. A low-code tool is only truly beneficial when it can also help you maintain, update, and augment your business software just as quickly and easily as it delivered that software in the first place.

Luckily, low-code development tools excel here in much the same way they excel during the initial phases of the development cycle. Though the maintenance steps for applications within your low-code environment are much the same as the steps needed in a high-code environment, the amount of work required is significantly less. This reduction in work impacts several different areas:

  • Testing: When the need to fix a bug or defect arises, it's much easier to do so when your software was built on an enterprise-grade low-code platform. Though you still need to identify the root cause, address it, perform regression testing, deploy the change to a staging or testing environment, and then go live into production, capabilities within the better quality low-code platforms allow you to do so much faster with a lot less hands-on-keyboard time. For example, you can embed test cases directly in rule expressions, which makes regression testing much easier. There are also built-in tools that allow you to deploy the changes you're making from environment to environment (from dev to test to prod, for example) much more efficiently and seamlessly.
  • Managing interdependencies: Whenever a change or fix is made to software that was built using traditional coding methods, numerous interdependencies have to be taken into account. Servers need to be updated, integrations and connectors retested, and adjustments made to the infrastructure on which the application runs. This is not only a very labor-intensive effort, but any error or omission made along the way could expose the organization and make it vulnerable to hacking. With low-code, however, all of these interdependencies have been abstracted away. When these steps are taken care of for you, you can save time and money, free up resources, and eliminate costly system downtime.
  • Maximizing useful life: Making changes to applications created within a high-code environment can be a time-consuming effort. By the time the latest updates have been made, a whole new set of requirements could be in the work queue—behind a slew of other backlogged requests. Low-code enables developers to tackle updates and fixes faster, which keeps business users happy and more likely to stick with the applications provided and not resort to risky workarounds. Low-code also makes it easier for IT and business stakeholders to collaborate as the updates are being created and tested, so there's a better chance that the new functionality will serve the intended purpose once it's in production.
  • Remaining compatible: Because high-quality low-code application platforms are backward compatible, the functionality of your existing applications will rarely be negatively impacted by updates to the platform. This allows you to take advantage of new features, stay current with the fast pace of technological innovation, integrate with the latest players and services, and benefit from every advance in performance, stability, and security. What is a seamless process for some low-code environments can be highly disruptive in a high-code environment when a technology or function has been deprecated or sunset and must be replaced with new technology.

Build, maintain, update, repeat.

Nothing lasts forever—not even the most future-proof technology. But you can maximize the lifetime of your business applications when you build and maintain them on a low-code application development platform. You'll not only enjoy faster development cycles, but the time and effort involved in keeping your applications running smoothly and delivering the capabilities required by the business will be negligible when compared to managing the application lifecycle for hard-coded software solutions.

Low-code makes application lifecycle management easier. Learn how your projects can be faster, easier, and more successful when DevOps is combined with low-code.

Date: October 17, 2022

Michelle Gardner

Director, Content Marketing, Appian

Michelle Gardner is a contributing editor of lowcode.com. She has written about enterprise technology for companies including Appian, OpenText, and Logi Analytics. 

Low-Code Guide

Low-Code development is the way to build apps more quickly by reducing the need to code.