Delivering business applications at an accelerated rate has become possible with low code development tools. Low code development platforms (LCDPs) have enabled the rapid production of applications tailored to the organization’s requirements. In fact, Forrester the LCDP market to grow to $15.5 billion by 2020.
Product managers are accountable for overseeing the multiple portions of a product's development cycle to ensure success. A PM's day-to-day activities requires them to wear multiple hats, i.e. defining strategies, determining customer requirements, streamlining and roadmapping, sprint planning, goal tracking, leadership, evaluating results against market, cross-functional organization, making product decisions, and much more.
It's not a cut-and-dry process to narrow down the exact duties of a PM for each phase of a product cycle. Instead, I will describe the main low-code tooling commonly adopted by product managers that can impact their daily tasks.
Roadmapping consists of focusing the team on the key tasks that are required to fulfill the objectives. Various tools such as Aha!, ProductPlan, Roadmunk, Monday, and Product Board are commonly used by PMs to make things easier and effectively implement data-led product planning through automation. Visually collaborative layouts, custom work boards, and individual notifications in these tools clarify the sequence of work for teams so that they can build products 10X faster.
Asana, Jira, Rally, and Trello are a few management tools used by teams to promote faster real-time collaboration and prioritize product tasks. As a product manager, you need to evaluate what high-level initiatives are creating a backlog and what needs to get back on track in a given build phase. PMs can use these tools to automate recurring workflows that enable their teams to work at full speed and deliver a properly aligned build.
Multiple tools are emerging that allow PMs to translate a product vision to a real-time working prototype. Sharp user design and flawless customer interactions have been made simpler by top tools like Crowdbotics, InVision, Framer, Mockingbird, Adobe XD, and Axure. Instead of a traditional design process, low-code prototyping tools allow user story creation via drag-and-drop tooling, fast wireframe assembly, and realistic layouts, thus bringing teams closer to production.
Time is of the essence, especially when a product manager wants to compete with the pace of the market. The above-mentioned low code tools are built to save time, create usable products with ease, and allow teams to allocate their saved time ito user testing and deployment activities.
It can be tricky to select the right low-code tool for rapid development. Product managers are responsible for leading overall development, so if PMs do not carefully choose their low code tools, then they might end up with a stack of unrelated tools that do not integrate together and actually increase resistance.
For example, as a PM you might use one tool for communication, another for automation, and a third one for task management, and if they do not synchronize together, then it creates a nightmare. Instead of manually testing each tool to avoid this outcome, it's best to adopt the one which allows built-in integration and sharing/synchronization of data among different platforms right out of the box.
There are a few other considerations that you should take into account when assessing low-code tools:
As I mentioned above, product managers are responsible for each phase of the SDLC (with the exception of actually coding). The PM role is sometimes contextual and can be anyone from a business analyst to the head of UX to the head of product analytics.
Low-code tools primarily have implications for those tasks which are usually not performed directly by PMs, but, if adopted, could fall within a PM's responsibilities. A PM is a layperson compared to a developer, but they should not be like, “Here, take the requirement document and we'll meet after you have built it.” Instead a PM needs to be a high performer across a range of contexts. To stay on top of their market and industry, it is essential for PMs to get a better understanding of changing technology, industry trends, and new tools.
This can be answered in two ways. One is related to standard software development, and the other has to do with low code tools, or "citizen development."
In a conventional software development lifecycle, it is beneficial for the PM to learn basic technical skills, elements of web and app development, and programming terms so that the PM does not need to rely on their engineering team for simple tasks.
When leveraging low code tools, if the PM develops a true mastery of the tool, then this can minimize engineer involvement and can get the job done with only occasional developer support.
However, completely removing the engineering team from the equation is not recommended. Why? Because someone with knowledge of the app's underlying operations needs to be responsible for actually building the product and keeping it operational.
The image above illustrates the fact that product managers, engineers, and UX designers are partners and must work in collaboration to bring a product to life. Product managers should focus on “what” and “why,” and engineers should describe “how.”
Low code tools have multiple capabilities and implications for the product development lifecycle. Integration with other platforms and hosting options are included in advance low code tools. Few low code tools support streamline and rapid development. Some enables citizen developers and software professional to collaborate on application development using integration feature.
Here is a list of low code SaaS tools for different development phases: planning, design, development, testing and deployment.
|Low Code Tool||Phase||Key Features||Pricing|
|Crowdbotics||Design to Deployment||- Drag-and-drop layout and model editors
- Automated deployment and hosting
- Task management + optional add-on pro services
|Community plan: Free
Pro plan: $199/month
Advanced plan: $499/month
Enterprise plan: Custom
|Appian||Planning to Deployment (excluding testing)||- Drag-and-drop layout builder
- No-code integration with AI/ML and enterprise data and web services
|Boomi Flow||All phases of development||- Connectors to integrate with Jenkins, GitLab, and other source code systems
- Default debugger, reflexive versioning for development, testing, and other phases
|Mendix||Full SDLC||- Agile management tools
- Cloud and on-premise deployments
- Jenkins, Git, and Jira integrations
|Community version: Free
Single app: $1,875/month
|Outsystems||Full SDLC||- Develop enterprise-scale apps without any coding
- Full set of native integrations
|Quixy||Full SDLC||- Drag-and-drop field controls
- Visual builder for custom workflows
The need for software testing is reduced to some extent while using low code tools, but still it’s better to test thoroughly. As a full-code platform with configurable devops, Crowdbotics supports all modes of custom testing via manual setup. Other low-code tools come with build-in testing early in the SDLC, such as Quixy, Boomi Flow, Caspio, QuickBase, and VisionX.
Unit Testing is usually skipped in low-code development because, in low-code tools, the units are pre tested. Automated API Testing is complex because the visual IDEs of low-code tools do not handle updates via APIs. The right tool for you will depend on your testing requirements.
Crowdbotics is a the best way for PMs to develop production-ready apps by using prebuilt templates, modules, and visual scaffolding tools for custom requirements. You can manage tasks directly within the platform and can integrate apps via external open source APIs.
The bright side for product manager can use the Crowdbotics App Builder to plan screen flows in Storyboard tool or modify UI designes in the Layout Editor. Application deployment to Heroku is possible with a single click. APIs are mechanically generated by the visual model editor for an extensible, flexible backend. In short, our platform offers a wide variety of tools to meet the diverse requirements of technical PMs across all stages of development.
By 2024, low code development tools are projected to be the leading form of development at technical organizations. Product managers can choose the right low-code tool to lead their teams by assessing product requirements, scope, allocated timelines, resources, budget, and target market.
If you're a PM interested in using low-code to deliver applications faster, start building with Crowdbotics today.
December 22, 2020