Low-Code for the Public Sector: Get the Most Out of Solutions You Already Have

Author: Jason Adolf, Appian

The mass shift to remote work in 2020 gave the public sector a wake-up call. The technology government organizations rely on wasn’t built for change, and it needed an upgrade. Ask a federal, state, or local government employee, and they’ll likely tell you that their technology stack needs attention. Now, the public sector is looking to streamline processes and improve efficiencies with modern technology. 

There are myriad reasons for this, and they vary by agency. Let’s start by walking through the technology currently used by government organizations. 

The current state of public sector technology.

The disruption caused by the pandemic emphasized gaps in workflows that were once easy to ignore. Modernization became an imperative due to the pace of change of policies and regulations, the magnitude of the challenges government agencies face, and the reliance on inflexible commercial off-the-shelf (COTS) applications. 

Government organizations have wide-reaching responsibilities, and there is no single technology they can rely on to serve all their needs. But organizations too often piece together disparate technologies to check off requirements instead of building a unified IT infrastructure that will meet challenges for years to come. 

Siloed, disparate systems. 

Many government organizations rely on disparate solutions that were implemented 10, 20, or even 30 years ago. These solutions often don’t include automation technologies like artificial intelligence, robotic process automation, and machine learning. Because these old solutions are not built for integration, they each serve only a specific, niche function and often cause additional problems: 

  • A dependence on too many systems that don’t connect.
  • The need to manually update spreadsheets and documents, an inefficient practice that diverts attention and effort away from core mission work.
  • Workflows that rely on outdated technology and limit data transfer among teams.
  • A heavier workload for employees and lengthy completion timelines.
  • Inefficiencies that result in unanticipated costs, missed deadlines, delayed delivery of services for constituents, and more. 

The solution: a low-code platform.

Low-code platforms give government organizations the ability to unify and extend their existing technology. They bring core systems and data together. Here’s how low-code is different from other technologies that solve only individual, isolated problems.

Low-code public sector applications.

Low-code platforms are pre-coded to give government organizations the flexibility to create their own applications to solve their unique business problems. Building applications with low-code is intuitive, and, most importantly, fast. 

Low-code applications have open APIs and integrate with an organization’s current technology landscape. You can use them to improve technology without having to sunset a solution and face a multi-year implementation for a new one. Bringing data from disparate systems into one interface makes mission-critical data more available. Staff will spend less time navigating between solutions and be able to make better-informed decisions. 

A low-code application development platform is also the ideal tool to help government organizations automate workflows. With low-code, you can automate tasks that are high volume, rule based, and don’t need human intervention. Government organizations can then shift their employees toward higher value work.

Drive process improvement with low-code.

Visualizing and monitoring workflows using a low-code platform with process mining capabilities, agencies can identify roadblocks and reduce processing times. When process mining is integrated within a low-code platform, discovering, designing, and automating workflows is much more consistent, efficient, and streamlined.

How government organizations can get started with low-code.

With low-code, government organizations with multiple, disparate systems, don't necessarily need to sunset solutions immediately or worry about technology certifications or a lack of coding expertise. A low-code platform can unify and extend existing, siloed technology to deliver immediate, measurable benefits—all without requiring you to migrate data or rip and replace legacy systems.

Government organizations should start by identifying the foundational processes within their workflows. Then, see which tasks are high volume, rule based, and rely heavily on manual intervention and automate them. 

What to look for in a low-code platform.

Federal, state, and local agencies and government entities, regardless of size or mission, can greatly benefit from the seamless experience and efficiencies low-code brings to outdated systems. Sound like something your organization could use? Consider these requirements when choosing a low-code platform:

  • Low-code data: A robust low-code platform should provide access and incorporate data from any source without expensive migrations or database programming. Low-code applications deliver more value by linking new functionality with existing solutions and legacy systems. To make sure applications fit seamlessly into existing architecture, look for an extensible platform that allows for future growth.
  • Complete automation: To realize the full power of low-code, look for automation that unites and augments all technologies, including robotic process automation (RPA), AI, and business process management.
  • Discovery: Low-code platforms with process mining technology identify and address workflow gaps and bottlenecks to reduce costs, increase efficiency, and optimize processes.
  • Security: Low-code automation platforms include security features that automatically govern the applications running on them. This makes IT’s job easier, and it also means the security of the platform is always up to date.
  • Data governance and compliance: With multiple applications deployed for various users and roles, ensure that your low-code platform includes capabilities that allow IT to remain in control and apply the necessary guardrails.
  • User experience: Look for a user interface that removes technical complexity from the design process. The best low-code platforms are the most intuitive, enabling users to quickly draw processes like a flowchart. The platform should let you create highly usable interfaces for end users, in line with their needs. Rapid prototyping allows for fast feedback from users and iteration over time.
  • Mobile: A low-code platform should have cross-platform functionality standard in its design, tuned to the specific capabilities and usage patterns of iOS and Android devices. No separate development, maintenance, or upgrades should be required to deploy applications on mobile.
  • Open platform: Low-code platforms should be built with open standards to provide access to third-party applications, ensuring government organizations can leverage prior investments and third-party vendors as needed.
  • DevOps: A comprehensive low-code platform delivers an integrated DevOps experience that’s fast and fluid within the build process.

With comprehensive solutions built on a low-code platform, agencies are empowered to solve their most mission-critical challenges. Applications built on a low-code platform save time, drive down costs, and get more done with fewer resources—all the benefits of modernizing technology without building from the ground up. Low-code exists to enable government agencies to build for the future with speed and agility.

Learn more about low-code for the public sector at appian.com/government

Posted: February 2, 2022

Jason Adolf

Appian Public Sector

Jason Adolf advises government customers on ways to maximize their digital transformation and modernization investments for Appian, a leader in low-code. In his 20 years of government IT experience, he has delivered complex technical solutions to federal clients including the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, the General Services Administration, the Department of Veterans Affairs, the Food and Drug Administration and numerous Defense Department agencies. Prior to joining Appian, Jason served as Director of Shared Services Consulting and Technical Solutions Portfolio at Serco. Prior to Serco, he was a principal at SRA International, where he led both internal and external facing teams. 

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