After first making the case, next up in our series on bringing no-code into the workplace is looking at the people within a business who’ll actually reap the rewards.
The core benefit of implementing no-code tools within an organisation is that it lets more people create software to solve problems and improve the way businesses operates. It essentially democratises digital transformation: more employees can build things that they simply weren’t able to before.
No-code tools work best when they’re as accessible as possible and spread within your company. The more of your colleagues who are able to use them, the more ideas, intellectual property and expertise you’ll create within the organisation. That’s why it makes sense to use one that has low barriers to entry and is easy to pick up. And where an IT department is controlling it, but not restricting its use.
The myth that you might find on less reputable media platforms is that anyone within an organisation can use no-code tools. In reality, it depends on how accessible and intuitive the tool in question is to use; on your team and how willing and capable they are to learn; on how complex or regulated the IT environment at your organisation might be.
But there are definitely people for whom using no-code tools will be far more intuitive and helpful. Those who understand how the business works, who can see systems as a whole, and who are just waiting to be unleashed into the world of building apps. That’s what we’re outlining here: who no-code tools really serve.
Note – we’re not digging into elements like risk management, safety and security in this one. That has a huge bearing when it comes to who’ll be able to use no-code tools and is something we’ll tackle in a later guide.
The status quo
When it comes to software development, a business traditionally had one of two choices:
1) Buy off-the-shelf software. That software is typically bloated with features that aren’t needed. It’s often clunky, inflexible and expensive – and struggles to keep pace with the organisation as it grows and its processes become more unique and complex. Cue a lot of frustrated employees.
2) Develop software themselves. Either an internal team of developers or an external one (£££!) write the code to build the software that best fits the business and its customers. That’s super challenging and laborious, not to mention expensive. It can also take a lot of time to build the software that’s exactly as you need it.
No-code tools can fix the problems that both of those options come with. They’re tailor-made for your exact processes and intricacies, flexible and generally cheaper to build. They give teams the freedom and autonomy to create the software they need.
When it comes to considering who’ll really benefit from using no-code tools, there are two core groups in particular.
1. Those who are underserved by IT
Being underserved by the IT department is a pretty familiar complaint at almost every organisation out there. Teams in ‘cost centres’ (departments that don’t directly make the business profit) like HR, finance, research and development or customer support often find their tech requests never seem to make it to the top of the priority list. No-code changes that – they’re able to serve themselves the solutions they need.
Those departments driving profit (eg, product development or sales) also get a benefit too. Though they probably won’t be using no-code tools to build software that customers actually interact with (aka production apps), they can still prototype and test ideas out far more quickly and easily. That means they’re better able to build apps that customers actually want – and can take validated, robust ideas to actual development.
2. Those who understand how systems work
The ability to engage in a little systems thinking is very important in the context of no-code. It’s basically a problem solving approach that means you’re able to see a ‘system’ as a whole – such as a complex HR system or a multi-faceted customer database – and how the different elements and components of a system interact with one another. People who can see how things relate to one another, and the issues and problems that are present, will really benefit from no-code tools. It’s these people who understand the problems a business has and understand the solution needed – they just need the digital capability to make it happen.
The classic personas
So who are the people within an organisation who are particularly suited to no-code? Here, we’ve broken it down into a few common profiles you’ll find at most businesses of a certain size.
One thing to remember is that there are often different levels of usability with no-code tools. Many work on a hybrid model in which there are power users of the tool, but also casual users who can use it for simple functions. A website building tool like Webflow, for example, lets more capable users change the design and functionality of the platform itself, while less capable colleagues can still get involved by editing and uploading content.
• The semi-technical IT manager
Up first, we have the IT manager or team lead. They’re not developers and they can’t write code – their role is centred around supporting an organisation's internal tech and making sure any software used is suitable, secure, compliant and cost-effective. It’s safe to say they know their way around computers and how systems work. With no-code tools, suddenly there’s a way to make all that knowledge useful by creating the software they need.
• The tech-savvy employee
These are your colleagues who are pretty tech-savvy but not necessarily working in a technical role. They’re the ones who are essentially behind all that messy Shadow IT in the organisation. The ones itching to try out new tools they’ve heard about; or the ones who are incredible with a spreadsheet and have created Excel macros that their whole team (or company) relies upon.
These people will tend to have a decent knowledge of how systems work and a deep understanding of how the business itself functions. While some of these people can be pretty senior and influential (think: product managers or data analysts), often the most tech literate employees are in junior roles like operations or marketing. Here their talents are appreciated within the team but they don't necessarily have the ability to aid the wider business. They have ideas on how to fix problems and streamline processes and just need the tools to put those ideas into action. They’re just waiting to be unleashed.
• The inundated developer
Yes, developers and engineers are also a super important group who’ll benefit from using no-code and low-code tools. That’s largely because they’re able to use those tools to save time (and brainpower) on writing the code for commoditised, homogeneous functions often found in apps. We’re talking here about login systems, email/sms functionality, calculation apps, or simple forms which can gather data. No-code tools are ideal for quickly building those functions. Plus because they know how software works, they can pick up no-code tools fast and be incredibly productive with them.
• The creative product builder
This applies to anyone who’s involved in the product building and designing process but who isn’t actually a coder. Think: designers, product managers, marketing managers and data analysts. People who, by virtue of their role and responsibilities, are able to affect digital change and transformation within an organisation but are lacking the ability to do so.
One of the key ways that no-code tools can help these people is by giving them the ability to prototype ideas they might have. That could be building rudimentary, basic versions of products and customer-facing apps, or internal apps that would improve the way their team functions. They’re suddenly able to test hypotheses and make their case to others, unleashing a whole world of creativity.
The truth is that not everyone within an organisation is suited to maximising no-code tools and platforms to build viable, successful apps. Getting clear on the individuals within your team or business who have the necessary skill set, knowledge of the business and need is super important if you’re going to actually make it work. But we have little doubt that there’s a group of creative and smart people in any organisation that are just waiting to get properly involved in the digital world.