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A framework for No/Low code IT Stack for your project

By now, hopefully, most business owners have likely heard of the noise created by the no and low code solutions. From the largest companies like Google to startups they are constantly releasing new tools. with the universe of the no and low code tools getting larger we have a new problem at hand. What No and Low code IT stack to deploy. A crucial decision that has a direct bearing on the success and the failure of the projects.

The first problems that we have to deal with is: How do you go about selecting the right portfolio of tools given the problem that you are trying to solve? The topic is fairly complex and I plan to cover it over multiple articles. As we have to start somewhere – here is a starting framework to help you think through the issues.

The following questions should provide a good starting point in our IT stack selection:

  1. Where does your data reside? – The question may come across as an easy one but in fact it is the very opposite. Think about if you can put the data in a spreadsheet or do you need a simple database system like Airtable. Or perhaps a more complex but powerful systems like dedicated databases. The answer to this issue may often determine your next steps.

  2. How complex is your logic? – By logic I mean the algorithmic complexity. Does a simple calculation suffice? Or do you need a more complex logic like a routing or scheduling algorithm? If your data resides in a spreadsheet or a system like Airtable or Notion you can do lots of the simple calculations on the data and save the interim results there itself. For a more complex algorithm one needs to think of a dedicated separate system whether it’s your own calculation engine or you are going to access a third party system like an AI engine.

  3. How will user interact with the system? – The user interface as known in the industry. If you are used to a spreadsheet based system then you know the limitations of how one can interact with the system – everyone has access to the entire dataset and you have to do a really good job of marking the difference between what is an input, what is an output and a result. We have all seen spreadsheets marked with yellow not to be touched, green to input and so on. You can create simple dashboards but that’s where the capabilities of a spreadsheet ends.

    Solutions like Airtable, Notion, or Coda give you a much higher degree of control. This could also be the reason to go for a low code solution. Recently, many of the new systems like Appsheet, Adalo, Bubble, Webflow and so on, have made it easier to create a mobile app or a web based app.

  4. How fast changing is your business environment? – As a general rule: a no code solution it’s easier to change than a low code system. Think of changing a spreadsheet or an Airtable setup compared to changing the layout of an App; even if it was developed with the latest no code app building tools.

  5. What is the time and cost to implement? – The no code solutions are hands down faster to design and deploy compared to the low code tools. The difference could be a factor of 2-3 times. Think of all the changes you can make – easily – in an Airtable or Spreadsheet.

The initial planning of an IT solution and the proper selection of the technology stack could be the difference of weeks and months to implement and cost difference of tens of thousands of dollars. You don’t want to go down the path where some hard decisions have to be made down the line.

The old adage of measure twice and cut once is worth remembering when it comes to selecting the no/low code IT stack for your project.

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