4 benefits of thinking RADically about rapid application development

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Calling all IT leaders – when it comes to application development, are you embracing innovation or falling victim to the status quo?

If you’re still limiting your application strategy decisions to buying off-the-shelf solutions or custom programming new applications from scratch, you’re not alone.

In fact, 88 percent of organizations are still stuck in a buy-versus-build mentality, according to a 2015 Forrester Consulting study commissioned on behalf of Hyland.

But the 12 percent of organizations thinking differently about creating business applications – aka the early adopters of low-code, rapid application development (RAD) platforms – are reaping the benefits.

Here are four ways that RAD platforms can deliver value to your organization and overall IT strategy:

     1. Tackle IT sprawl head-on

If your IT landscape looks more like the Hawaiian Islands than the continental United States, you’re suffering from IT sprawl. An amazing 45 percent of companies use 100 or more applications on a weekly basis, and about a third of those use 1,000 or more, according to the Forrester study. Adding the other tools they use to manage information – including email, shared drives, database apps and spreadsheets – and the challenges only multiply.

An overload of information siloes and disparate applications means additional time and support costs, difficulty maintaining IT control and challenges managing security and upgrades across disconnected systems.

A RAD tool simplifies your IT environment, enabling you to rapidly configure unlimited applications on one common platform. This means you have one product to support, upgrade, secure and protect. You also create a better experience for business users who no longer need to navigate multiple systems to get their work done.

     2. Accelerate solution rollout

Unsurprisingly, according to the study, a top benefit realized by those embracing RAD platforms was faster rollout of applications. But what might surprise you is the tremendous impact this can have on your organization. A project manager at a U.S. building materials company quoted in the study had this to say:

“Forever we had two ways of doing things: We would either buy or develop. Now we have this third option, which is to configure a solution [on a low-code platform]. It changed our whole world. We went from doing about one project a year to between eight and 10.”

The University of Notre Dame, which leverages the low-code capabilities of the OnBase by Hyland enterprise information platform, echoes the sentiment: “The alternative is custom development – we were able to build a 14-story skyscraper in the time it would have taken to build a condo with [custom code],” said Julie Bruckert, systems manager at Notre Dame.

Faster application rollout equates to faster solutions to your organization’s critical business needs, allowing you to effectively respond to demand and even minimize the dreaded “IT sprawl.” It’s a big win-win.

     3. Keep up with changing needs of your customers – internal and external

Change is a given, whether it’s shifting business priorities, evolving customer demands or changing employee productivity requirements. As business operations evolve, your solutions need to evolve as well.

A low-code platform offers the benefit of point-and-click configurability, making it easier to change and expand solutions – adding new users, new features or even expanding the platform into new areas as the business requires and feedback dictates.

This isn’t the case with custom-coded or out-of-the-box solutions:

  • Custom-developed applications require the original developer or someone with that level of expertise to make changes. This can take a great deal of time, limiting agility, and if that original developer happens to leave the organization, that knowledge leaves as well.
  • Off-the-shelf solutions often have limitations on which features you can change and the degree to which organizations can make those modifications. Frequently, off-the-shelf product vendors will charge a premium for solution changes, growth or expansion after the initial implementation, leading to surprise costs. 

     4. Create stronger connections between your content and data

RAD platforms offer a direct resolution to the top struggle cited by IT organizations battling sprawling application environments: integrating structured data and unstructured content across disparate systems.

By configuring applications on one platform, organizations minimize information siloes by leveraging a shared underlying database and content repository. An effective RAD platform also offers native integration capabilities to synchronize information among separate line-of-business systems, acting as an integration hub and filling the gaps within the IT environment to create a better experience for your end users.

If content is key to your business (and I would be surprised if that wasn’t the case), selecting a RAD platform with native enterprise content management capabilities – and the ability to combine structured and unstructured data and content in digestible ways – is critical.

RAD platforms make it easier to create content-driven applications with intuitive user interfaces according to those surveyed in the Forrester study. With half of respondents anticipating an increasing demand for embedded content in customer-facing, collaboration and customer service applications, this requirement will only become more imperative in the years to come.

Are you ready to think beyond build versus buy and adopt a RADical third option?

Learn more about the value of configuring business applications on a point-and-click, content-enabled rapid app development platform: Download the Forrester Study, To Be Brilliant in the Moment, Think Beyond Buy Versus Build: Rapid Application Development Platforms Offer a Faster, Easier Alternative

Amanda Ulery

Amanda Ulery

In her more than five (wonderful) years at Hyland, creator of OnBase, Amanda Ulery has taken on the mission of sharing the business value of OnBase with anyone who will listen. A proud member of the product marketing team, she has a background in integrated marketing, the stubborn focus (and eye for detail) of an ex-journalist and the goal of helping the world realize how OnBase can truly transform the way we work.

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