FAQ: Low Code in Public Administration

This FAQ answers frequently asked questions on the topic of low code in the public sector – from the significance of the solution approach and the possible uses in public administration to security and further development options for low code platforms.

What is Low Code and how is it different from No Code?

Low code solutions are development methods in which software applications are created with minimal programming effort. Trained experts, known as “citizen developers,” model a large part of the application using modules. The Citizen Developers do not need any programming knowledge for this, since prefabricated elements and modules support the development. This not only increases the speed of software development and reduces the workload of IT departments, but also reduces costs and shifts some of the developer tasks directly to the users.

Specific adjustments can be made by programmers, as is the case with individual developments. This is also the difference to No Code applications. These get by without the use of a developer. In modeling with the No Code platform, however, the degree of customization is quite small.

What are the benefits of low code for the public sector?

Low code development offers public administrations several advantages over custom development of a (complex) application. The following factors ensure faster development time, reduced costs and a resilient application that is always up to date with the latest technology:

  • Reduced communication: Modeling the business user reduces the time spent communicating explicit requirements between developers and users. This is often the case when an application contains complex dependencies or validations.
  • Optimization of quality assurance: By using modules that are already quality assured from the beginning, a high test coverage of a later application is achieved. This approach is reinforced by the automatic quality assurance of the business users during modeling.
  • Maintenance of the application by non-technicians: Due to the low proportion of coded components in the application, a large part of the maintenance can also be carried out by non-technicians.
  • Use of modules: Multiple use of modules reduces the amount of code that needs to be written.
  • Runnable environment: Most low-code applications already come with a runnable environment that makes it possible to set up even complex application architectures in a very short time.
  • Separation of technology and technicality: Some low-code applications offer the option of managing technicality separately from technology. This means that individual technical components can be replaced when they become obsolete.

The aforementioned aspects can counteract the shortage of skilled workers in public administration. At the same time, they promote sovereign administrative action.

What are the limits of low code?

Even though the use of low code offers many advantages, there are also limits to the application creation. Due to the modules used, the application tends to be oriented to a standard and offers less room for customization. If changes to the core of the application are necessary, there is no guarantee that they can be implemented. Frequently, such an application is also intended to fit into an application landscape. Accordingly, openness for interfaces is necessary, which not every low-code platform offers.

Are there examples of low-code applications in the public sector?

There are already numerous possible uses in public administration today – wherever highly scalable, secure, robust and potentially business-critical web applications are required. These include application management systems, portals and specialized procedures. Low-code applications are also used in the creation of citizen portals or for the management of grants, for example, to automate the application and review process. But low-code solutions have also been used successfully for years in tax administration – and also for internal administrative processing, with the prospect of subsequent use by federal states and municipalities.

Is low code secure?

Security is an important aspect, not only in the public sector. High security guidelines and standards must be taken into account when developing low-code applications. This means, for example, that access rights and data protection measures must be implemented accordingly to protect (highly) sensitive data and information. The data centers to be used should be located in Germany or other EU countries due to applicable European data protection regulations.

When selecting low-code platforms, public sector leaders should be sure to evaluate them – for governance, control and monitoring of the entire application landscape. In addition, the highest third-party certifications and accreditations should be available, such as the ISO standard. This provides information on whether and to what extent regulations in the area of information security are complied with.

Can low-code applications be developed further without any problems?

By using modular components and prefabricated modules, low-code applications can be extended and individualized to meet the increasing requirements in public administration. A decisive factor here is the separation of business and technology, which some low-code platforms, such as A12, bring with them. This means that both the business requirements and the technical basis are constantly being developed and kept up to date. Open interfaces also offer further application possibilities.

Will low code continue to gain importance in the public sector in the future?

The demand for low-code solutions, especially in the public sector, continues to rise, because the ability to quickly develop and adapt applications is urgently needed. As a result of the requirements of the Online Access Act (OZG), which has brought about an upswing in the digitization of applications for public authority processes for citizens, there are many subsequent processes in which specialized procedures must be digitized end to end.

The time- and cost-saving approach of low code will therefore continue to gain importance in public administration – especially in the area of one-for-all services (EfA). This is because software development with enterprise low code platforms does not require every project to be developed from scratch. Thanks to the use of reusable modules, software can be developed very quickly. Using the modular approach, municipalities and federal states can develop their own applications and make them available to others (EfA services). This saves time and money. Therefore, low code is a promising way to accelerate software development and drive digital transformation.

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