Friday, March 24, 2017

Coding for Non-Coders: How to Easily Build Enterprise Apps Without Coding in 8 Simple Steps



A few years ago, it wasn't entirely practicable for non-coders to build applications due to the difficulties and technicalities of coding. In fact, coding wasn't something to discuss in the average workplace except by IT.

However, technology has changed a lot of things on the app development front and it's now not just practical but also easy for non-developers to create working apps through codeless development, as we've discussed in parts one and two of this series.

Today, we will show you, in eight simple steps, exactly how to create enterprise web applications for your organization, using the Joget platform as our primary tool.

For the fact that this post targets non-technicals, we'll try to keep it free from technical jargons as much as we can while still delivering value. And where we use a technical term, we'll explain it. Let's go straight up into the steps:



STEP #1: IDEATE WHAT APP TO CREATE



Ideation is the starting point into every new project, right? Sure! So the first thing you'll need to do in creating your enterprise application is to develop an idea of what app to build.




This is where you have to define the purpose and mission of your app, its core appeal, and where it fits into the organization's overall strategy.

When it comes to ideation, you have to be very strategic, otherwise, you may end up struggling with the adoption of the app by users. Put differently, it's not just any idea that works.

For your app to carry a lot of weight with users, it should aim at solving a real-world problem for your organization. It could be efficiency problem, process problem, or just any effective organizational problem that needs solving.

Usually, these sort of problems are always almost everywhere in an organization; so you might not need to look too far. Whatever idea you arrive at, it should generally do at least one of the following:


  • Simplify complex business processes
  • Reduce costs
  • Save time
  • Make employees’ jobs easier
  • Enhance effective collaboration
  • Allow secure access to information
  • Resolve efficiency issues
  • Make it possible for employees to continue working outside of the traditional office
  • Streamline and improve workflow and approval processes
  • Amplify opportunities for the organization
  • And more.




To develop even a more feasible idea, consider involving potential users (employees). Ask questions and get them to contribute ideas. Talking to prospective participants helps you validate your idea, which is important for an app to be successful.


STEP #2: DETERMINE AND DETAIL FUNCTIONALITIES AND FEATURES OF THE APP



After you've identified a need within the organization and aligned your app idea accordingly to resolve it, it's time to solidify things by properly detailing what should go into the app.




At this stage, you might want to make a list of all the major features and also research the functionalities you'd love in the app. You can brainstorm with your team and ask them what to expect.

By detailing things down, you will be able to:


  • Give your idea a structure
  • Ensure each use case makes sense in reality
  • Pre-design the user experience for better delivery
  • Arrange features beforehand and map out the priority of your app’s content
  • Connect the dots from one element to another.

If your app is looking to resolve a problem, it's vital you find out the pain points of the prospective users so as to be able to resolve them spot on.


STEP #3: CHOOSE YOUR TOOL AND SIGN UP



By now, you have your app’s use cases outlined and a mental picture of its structure. The next step is to choose an app builder platform to create your app.

Of course, we’re discussing codeless development here so the tool you choose should definitely be a no-code/low-code platform with which you can easily build apps with little or zero coding knowledge.


In our bias, we recommend Joget Workflow as your go-to development platform. It can save you tens of thousands of dollars.


STEP #4: CREATE YOUR APP



With your app idea birthed, the feature set mapped out, and the functionalities defined, it’s time to further establish your project by connecting and fusing these individual pieces together.

From step #1 up to step #3, you've been preparing for the main job. Now, it's time to actually create your app. This step is probably the most technical part of this whole process, so you need to pay special attention to it.

And don't worry about the intricacies involved with development; codeless development is simple. It basically involves dragging and dropping visual elements to create what you want. Moreso, we will be using Joget Workflow, a really easy-to-use platform that makes development even enjoyable.




The first thing you would want to do in actually developing your enterprise application is to create a prototype of the app. The general idea of prototyping is to represent as close to the final product as possible, for testing.

You can use Joget Workflow to create a working and fully functioning prototype, where users can actually use the system. This way, you get the users to participate directly and they can see what they are getting from the onset.

To prototype with Joget Workflow, use the App Generator. With it, you’d be able to generate a fully functioning prototype from a form. Here’s a helpful tutorial on how to use the App Generator.




Understand that not all enterprise web applications require prototyping, especially simple and small apps. But for big apps, it's smart to create and test prototypes.

After you've created and tested a prototype of your app, and are satisfied with it, it's time to create the full application.

Creating a Joget Workflow app typically involves five simple steps as shown below:


i. DESIGNING A NEW APP



This is the step which starts the build process.

Here, you're required to enter the details of your new app, including App ID (without spaces) and App Name.




For step-by-step instructions on designing a new app, see this tutorial.






ii. DESIGNING A FORM



In this step, you're to design a new form for your app using Joget's Form Builder. You will be required to enter a Form ID, Form Name, and Form Table.


Add caption


Follow the instructions in this tutorial for a detailed guide on designing a form.







iii. DESIGNING A LIST



The third step involves designing a list using Datalist Builder.




This is where you get to create a list of cumulative field values from all workflow process instances associated with the form.

You'll need to select the source of the data, edit columns, plus a couple other functions.

Go here for details on designing a list.




iv. DESIGNING A USERVIEW



Step four is where you get to design the front-end interface of your app using Userview Builder.




You can develop a theme from scratch but there's also a list of preloaded themes you can choose from for quicker development.

Here's a quick tutorial on designing a userview with Joget Workflow.






v. DESIGNING A PROCESS



The final step in creating a Joget Workflow app centers on process design. You can complete this step using Process Builder.




For help, check out this step-by-step process of designing a process.





STEP #5: TEST IT… AGAIN



After you've created the full app, it's important you test it again. You will want to test the use cases, user interface, navigation, and individual screens to see if the experience is good enough.




All the components of your app should properly work at this point, and your app should be visually appealing as well.


STEP #6: INTEGRATE AND EXTEND YOUR APP



You may find it necessary to extend the functionalities of your app. For instance, you might want to extend an account payable workflow automation app to allow vendors to submit invoices directly to the AP department.

This can be done using plugins. Joget Workflow has a robust plugin architecture you can take advantage of to enhance and extend the functionalities of your app and integrate it with external technologies such as JSON, SOAP, and SQL/JDBC.


STEP #7: DEPLOY YOUR APP AND GET TARGET  USERS TO ADOPT IT



So you now have a well-built app created and tested. Well, it's time to launch it.

App development does not end at just creating the app. It involves making sure the app gets adopted and used by the people. You wouldn't say you created a successful app if nobody is using it, would you?




We recommend you always get buy-in from potential users and other stakeholders even before creating the app. It's also intelligent to have adoption strategy.


STEP #8: GET FEEDBACK AND MAKE IMPROVEMENTS



Now that your app is in it’s fully functioning form, and with more users taking it for a spin, you may find that you need to make a couple of tweaks to bring it out fully.

Development is a process; it continues. Don't stop working on your app. Continually update and improve it based on user feedback and on new technologies.




Keep an eye on engagement. Why? Because user behavior and interaction with your app will go a long way to giving you insight into the strengths and weaknesses of your app,  giving you ideas on how to improve and enhance your app.

Also, be open to constructive criticism and listen to complaints. Work with the support team of your software provider to fix technically complex problems.

Building an app can be very easy, especially with the right tools and information in hand. You don't need to be a professional coder to do so, as codeless development has totally changed the game.

We hope you try out Joget Workflow, but you ought also to try out the steps given above to build something employees will be happy to use.

This is the part three of the series, Coding for Non-Coders. Feel free to check out parts one and two if you have yet to do so.

Tuesday, March 21, 2017

Joget Workflow v6 Beta Released

After months of intensive development, we're proud to announce that the beta for Joget Workflow v6 is now available for download!


What's New in Joget Workflow v6?

v6 has a dual pronged focus: User Experience (UX), and App Maintainability and Performance.

USER EXPERIENCE AND MOBILITY


User Experience (UX) and mobility are the Achilles' heel for enterprise apps. To address this, new features in v6 include a Material-design inspired user experience, mobile device responsiveness, dashboard capabilities and many many more.

With touch support for designing apps (imagine using an iPad to build and maintain apps!), building beautiful and user friendly apps will be easier than ever.


APP MAINTAINABILITY AND PERFORMANCE



The major challenge in app development is not building it the first time, but rather maintaining and evolving it over time. A big focus in v6 is improving app maintainability, with additional tools to manage dependencies and to automatically merge concurrent team changes.

Performance is also another key focus area with tools to help app designers optimize their apps more easily through easy-to-use caching, and to prevent common app performance bottlenecks such as detection of database connection leaks.


Get Started

Check out all the details in What's New in Joget Workflow v6, and Get Started in the Joget Workflow v6 Knowledge Base.



Wednesday, March 8, 2017

Coding for Non-Coders: Why Should You Build Your Own Apps?

In our first post in the series, Coding for Non-Coders, we mentioned that our aim with this series is to empower non-developers to effortlessly build enterprise applications. In the post, we found that it's actually possible for a person with little or even zero coding knowledge to build applications, using a Codeless Development approach.

In part three of this series (which is the next post), we will take you through the step-by-step process of building an enterprise web application without any programming skills. But before then — and on a deep-thinking, heart-searching level — why should YOU build your own enterprise apps? Apparently, there are umpteen professional software experts out there; is it a brilliant business move to build your apps in-house in place of paying an experienced dev to do it?

Here's what we've discovered in our interactions with organizations around the world:
We've found that a good number of organizations want to create their own business-to-employee (B2E) apps. While that’s definitely a good thing, there is a problem:

The team members of these organizations, in most cases, do not know how to code. Yet, these enterprises do not necessarily want to outsource the development task; they want the apps built in-house.

Why? Because they've realized the numerous boons associated with internal development and are looking to avoid the interferential disbenefits that come with the traditional method of outsourcing app development.


The points below should help you have a clearer picture of the importance and benefits of building your own business applications internally.
  • Quicker turnaround time: One of the biggest challenges faced by organizations regarding building enterprise apps the traditional way is lengthy time requirement. On average, it takes about seven months to a year to write a single app, traditionally. Considering this extensive time input, it's worth developing your apps in-house since codeless tools can dramatically speed up the development process while saving an ample amount of time. 
  • Reduced costs: Another major reason you should build your own enterprise apps is the cost of development and maintenance. The price tag of outsourcing development is surprisingly high. On average, it costs north of $250,000 for an app to be developed. Not everyone can afford that high an amount, hence the need for internal development. With just a small fee, your team’s dream of building any app they want at any time can become a reality. 
  • Practical empowerment: In-house development empowers a broader base of your workforce — departmental people, product managers, process owners, and so on — not just IT. These non-technical team members usually have valuable domain expertise and inventive ideas, and with an opportunity to create their own apps using visual, drag-and-drop tools, they'll be able to develop their skills, make meaningful contributions, and extend their expertise to benefit the organization some more. 
  • Smart solutions to problems: Fostering a world in which everyone can build apps would not only address the traditional app backlog faced by many organizations but would also enable organizations to find new and innovative ways to *quickly* solve internal organizational problems. Think of a situation where you need to readily manage internal bookings within your organization. Can you easily and quickly create an app to handle that? Oh well, yes! But with a no-code/low-code tool like Joget Workflow
  • Trendiness: You know, the world is fast changing and work has gone from the way it used to be to a smarter approach. It's the same with development and how we use devices these days. In fact, Gartner says that before 2020, when people go online, they'll use their tablet or smartphone first instead of traditional computers. This means the demands for enterprise applications by employees is proliferating at a time when developer resources are in short supply. With this in mind, it's only intelligent you find a way to build apps internally. Gartner even mentions that by 2018, more than 50 percent of all enterprise apps will be created by business users, using codeless development tools. 
  • Increased productivity: Imagine being able to effortlessly and quickly build, at any given time, enterprise applications that can immediately enhance your team's operational efficiency and increase workers’ productivity, without the need to contact any pro developer. Now, that's the sort of benefit you get when you equip your team to build applications internally. 
  • Complete creative control: In traditional app development, there's the problem of control, customization, and versioning. Businesses that wish they could customize their app to something more custom-tailored usually have zero or very little chances of doing so given that the application wasn't written by them, and customization will most likely require coding. If they finally get to do it, such customization, versioning, and maintenance most times come with extra costs. Using no-code/low-code platforms to build your apps cuts off these unnecessary headaches and expenses while giving you complete creative control of your apps. 
The points discussed above prove it's worthwhile for organizations to build their own B2E apps. With these benefits, coupled with the simplicity of codeless development tools, creating your own apps should be something you definitely do, even as a non-coder.

You can start with Joget Workflow, one of the world's leading open source platforms for building enterprise web applications that employees love.

This is the second post in the Coding for Non-Coders series. If you haven't had any chance to read the first post, you can do so here. In part three, we'll show you exactly how to build applications with no coding requirements whatsoever.

Tuesday, February 28, 2017

Coding for Non-Coders: Codeless Development Explained!


Is it possible for someone without any coding knowledge to build applications? If yes, how well can they do and should we trust such applications to work well and contribute meaningfully to business?

Well, this post kicks off the series, Coding for Non-Coders. It's a series of posts we will be publishing here with the aim of empowering non-technicals to be able to easily and quickly build enterprise applications, no matter their level of programming chops.

#Flashback: Back in time, those who wished to develop apps but lacked technical expertise had to rely on traditional developers and IT to meet their development needs. For them, coding and development were herculean tasks they didn't want to get into. So they took to the option of outsourcing all their development work to software experts and the costs weren't so low.



Our earnest vision at Joget has always been to champion a world where anyone can seamlessly create their dream enterprise application at any time regardless of whether or not they can code, a work environment where even the least technical person can churn out a working app that can contribute to business.

The beautiful thing is that things have changed dramatically from how applications were developed in the past. Non-coders who have an idea but not the technical know-how are taking it upon themselves to create their own apps; they can now implement a no-programming approach towards building applications.

This is called Codeless Development.

Codeless development makes use of a drag-and-drop interface to build enterprise applications without the need to write code. It requires no programming knowledge to work with as the “developer” doesn't need to interact with any code or any technically difficult-to-use tool to build their applications. This method of development relies on models and templates as opposed to strict coding.
Although the term “codeless development” along with related terms like “no-code development” and “low-code development” have existed for just a few years now, the technique is not entirely new.

And here's another thought: Even though it's called “codeless development” the technique isn't devoid of code. The truth is, there is some code somewhere. But the code is pre-developed and packaged (read: hidden) in an environment that will only require the user to visually develop applications.

Thinking no-code development is limited? The apps developed can be deployed in private or public clouds, on-premise or to mobile devices, and can be extended and integrated with mainframes and other external systems, mostly via plugins. This means you can do more with apps built through this methodology.


Now, there's a common fallacious thinking that codeless development threatens the job security of the developer; but the fact is that no-code/low-code platforms are designed to accelerate software delivery and heighten the dev’s productivity level while streamlining and quickening the development process.

It also expands app development beyond just developers as it is geared more toward business users.

Why business users? Because businesses are frustrated with having to go through long, tedious development process; they want to handle their own development in an effortless manner. They see codeless development as being more agile and less baroque. More importantly, organizations want to lower cost and save time, and codeless development helps them achieve exactly this. For instance, the Joget platform lets users dramatically cut down the costs and time it takes to build new apps. Instead of writing code, you basically build your app by easily dragging and dropping elements.

If you have yet to adopt codeless development, it's time you signed up for your free Joget account here. In our next post in this series, we will talk about why you need to develop your own apps and also look at the potential benefits you stand to gain by using the codeless development approach.

If you have any questions, feel free to leave them in the comment section below.

Monday, February 20, 2017

The Joget Advantage: Things You Probably Didn't Know About Joget Workflow

A few years ago, we published a post about the advantages of Joget Workflow and why everyone needed to pay attention to the platform. Back then, Joget Workflow was in its third edition and in the post, we talked about the key benefits offered by the v3.

But years have come and gone and Joget Workflow has gone through a handful of upgrades and revisions, and new features have been added, too. More importantly, the platform has evolved from being just a workflow and business process management (BPM) engine to a full-fledged suite of tools for building business applications that matter.

This simply means there are more things you can do with Joget Workflow now than we covered in the v3 post back in 2011.

So we’re putting this together to help you have a more comprehensive knowledge of what you can accomplish with Joget Workflow, plus some major advantages associated with the platform. But before we get to that, let's quickly get a handle on what the platform is about, for those who don’t know.

What is Joget Workflow?


Joget Workflow is an open source web-based workflow software to easily build enterprise web apps.

But Joget Workflow wasn't always like this. Initially, when Joget Workflow was first rolled out in 2009, the platform was crafted as an open source workflow management system for automating business processes and people-driven workflows. However, we wanted something more than that. So in 2012, we advanced from being a workflow system to a full-blown web application development platform.

Today, we've reached hundreds of thousands of downloads, with an army of incredibly happy users.

So what’s the thing with Joget Workflow? What makes the platform loved by people the world over? What are the benefits that are pulling together this troop of die-hard users? Let's have a look:

What Makes Joget Workflow Unique?

See, organizations are continuously looking for easier, quicker, and cheaper ways to build and deploy business processes and enterprise apps.

Traditionally, these two are handled manually. Manual business process management comes with lots of problems including high costs, human errors, inefficiency, unnecessary paperwork, and lots more. On the other hand, traditional software development is slow, requires high costs to maintain code, is designed only for software experts, among other downsides.

Occasionally, software providers have tried to resolve these issues through the development of workflow automation/BPM products and rapid application development (RAD) tools respectively.

But the problem is this: Most of these BPM and RAD products are typically constrained and limited in their capacity to deliver desirable results in a timely fashion. They’re essentially process-centric, which means no versatility.

This is where Joget Workflow comes in handy.


The Joget platform fills the gap by combining the best of both BPM and RAD, to allow both business users and IT professionals easily and quickly develop usable end-to-end enterprise web applications that support cloud and mobile, in a cost-effective way.

Digging Deeper Into Joget

To get a clearer picture of the awesomeness of Joget Workflow, it necessary to drill down a bit further into it. Here are the tools you'd come across in Joget:

1. Process Builder

Process Builder is a tool for building and modeling business processes. You can use it directly in the web browser and so does not need to be installed.


With a drag-and-drop interface, you can easily add, edit and execute processes, monitor ongoing and completed processes, and integrate with external systems using plugins.

2. Datalist Builder

The Joget Datalist Builder lets users build, design, and organize their data in tabular data lists which can be sorted, paged, and filtered.


Its drag-and-drop interface makes building data lists even easier as you can easily add new columns, for instance. Users can use configurable data binders to load data from different sources, extend those data binders using plugins, and easily preview their tabular data listings.

3. Form Builder
Form Builder is a useful tool with a drag-and-drop feature for easily designing web-based forms.


It offers flexible form layout and configuration, wizard-style property dialogs, and the ability to extend form element types using plugins.

4. Userview Builder

Userview Builder is a web-based solution for seamlessly designing front-end user interface (UI) for applications. You can add forms or data listings, configure and select what you want to be displayed, and enable mobile view for mobile devices, or even preview your web app UI.


Just as the above-mentioned tools, it requires no client-installation but supports a drag-and-drop environment.

Userview Builder makes use of forms and datalists to support CRUD (create, read, update, delete) for data management. It comes with configurable userview design themes and can extend userview functionality using menu type plugins.

5. App Generator

The Joget App Generator tool helps to accelerate web app development. Users can generate apps from forms and as well auto-generate lists, processes, and UI. It also makes it easy to create prototypes in minutes.


There are also ready-made process templates available for those who don't feel like generating processes from scratch.

What More Can You Do With Joget Workflow?

User Management: Joget Workflow also lets you manage users, groups, and organizational charts with its user management tool. And through plugins, you can do things like integrating users to external directory systems like LDAP or Active Directory.

Integration: Using plugins built on JavaScript and JSON APIs, you can integrate with external web-based technologies like PHP and .NET, portals like Microsoft SharePoint, CMS platforms like WordPress and Joomla, and vertical solutions built by SI or ISV.

Plugin-Oriented Architecture: Joget Workflow has a good deal of plugins developed and managed by a group of remarkably talented software engineers. With this dynamic plugin architecture, users can enhance and extend functionalities, bring data into data lists, and integrate with external systems like JSON, SOAP, and SQL/JDBC as there are pluggable elements in forms, processes, and UI.

Front-end Edit: This feature is designed to improve web app maintainability. It eases development as lists, forms, and pages can be edited without sweat. Perhaps, the most beautiful part is that you get immediate results even while still making the tweaks.

Joget Marketplace: One remarkable thing with Joget is that it doesn't leave you needing to design and build your apps from scratch. In the Joget Marketplace, you can find apps to use as templates, easily import and export apps, and seamlessly download ready-made apps and plugins.


The Joget Advantage

Joget Workflow is designed with the end-user in mind. Thus, it is built to deliver the following benefits.

1. Simplicity
From design to usability, Joget Workflow is simplicity-typified. Unlike what's out there, you don't need to go through complex steps to build apps or create processes. With just a web browser, you can turn your ideas into apps and maintain them properly, without the need to go through the long process of installation.

And if you don't feel like lifting a finger but want your processes to start running already, there’s the Joget Marketplace with a fistful of ready-made out of the box apps and plugins you can use right off the bat. There's also the hosted Joget Workflow On-Demand service for quickly building custom apps and automating processes without worrying about any infrastructure issues.


2. Cost-saving

One of the major challenges faced by organizations in the area of BPM and application development is high costs in terms of money and time. Some tools on the market today, cost a pretty penny but actually deliver low value.

Joget Workflow saves costs of time and money. Rather than investing separately in a BPM tool and RAD product, organizations can get better returns on their investment at a lower cost. You also won't have to waste time switching back and forth between a BPM platform and a RAD tool.

To top it off, Joget Workflow’s focus on simplicity reduces the time it takes to build apps from months to weeks or days, or even just minutes for working prototypes. This goes to save you money and eliminates unnecessary headaches.

3. Zero/low level of programming knowledge requirements

So you need programming knowledge to be able to develop apps, huh? Well, not with Joget.

Here, anybody can easily build operable apps without writing a line of code. Why? Joget Workflow supports both codeless and low-code development.

For pro developers, Joget helps to reduce the time and effort it takes to build apps, while accelerating process and increasing productivity.

For non-technical users, you can be sure to create apps you love even without ever knowing what code means. It's the 21st century, remember.

4. Flexibility and versatility

Imagine using a system that doesn't allow you the freedom to customize your work to what you want, or that only lets you fribble around one ironbound developmental activity illiberally. I bet you wouldn't want to work with that kind of tool.

Unlike many BPM and RAD products on the market, Joget Workflow offers great flexibility and versatility.

We believe these two are very vital for software, especially for areas like business process management and application development.

To start with, our platform is open source. It can be used to create versatile enterprise web apps to execute various business functions. And web apps created with Joget Workflow can be used on any device without being OS-dependent or platform-centric.

Plugins and APIs are available to integrate and extend to external systems as you like.

5. Accountability and security

If you've ever used software that caters to a business need, you'd know the importance of accountability and security in software.

The good thing is, at Joget, we pay great attention to these concerns. We understand that unsatisfactory security can lead to serious issues for users, so we work to ensure that our users get the most authentic security possible, coupled with openness and accountability.

THE FUTURE OF JOGET

We've made tremendous progress in our efforts to bring our next major edition on board.

While Joget Workflow v6 will carry on the good attributes found in v5, it's an even better edition. It'll come with great stuff but our focus for v6 stays around User Experience (UX), Maintainability, and Performance.

Feel free to leave your questions and thoughts below and we'll be happy to help.

Wednesday, February 8, 2017

How to Get the Most Out of Business Process Automation


Business process automation (BPA) is considered a powerful means for streamlining business processes and approval steps, cutting costs, eliminating human errors and redundancies, and generally improving operational efficiency.

Joget Workflow lets you build workflow and business process management (BPM) applications that convey these benefits and more.

Now the question is this:

After creating your workflow/BPM applications, what are the most effective strategies that can help your team get the most out of such tools?

In this post, we gather seven best practices for doing just that.

Why does this matter?

Business process automation is a phenomenal tool that can completely change the way teams work. However, to experience this positive change to the hilt, you need to learn how to best implement the system and not just execute it lethargically.

In most cases, all that's required to achieve this is the right information coupled with germane actions. Read on to see our recommendations.

1. Get your team on board


BPM is not a one-man show. In automating your organization's workflows and processes, you need everyone’s support, from employees to upper management. You also need to get buy-ins and contributions from those who will be participating in the new system. Regardless of your position, going it alone could mean you're setting up yourself for failure.

Everyone needs to be on the same page regarding the tasks needing automation. So involve your team in the project (yes, BPA *implementation* is a project and should be treated as such) from the beginning. This may include process owners/managers, workflow participants, the IT team, and other relevant stakeholders.

Brainstorm and plan together. Ask about their expectations. Let them contribute their ideas. And be sure to treat each idea with respect, even if you may not get to use it eventually.

Why? Because it's only these people (especially prospective users) that can tell you their pain points and the best areas to automate, without which it'll be difficult to get the most out of automation.

Also, get them to commit up front to using the app so you won't have to struggle through deployment.

2. Keep your business objectives in mind


While successful automation could be one of your organizational goals (inter se), you need to set up BPA in such a way that it supports your broadscale business objectives, complements your team’s effort, and aligns with your vision.

Start with thoughtful planning, even before kick-starting the app development process. Decide on what you want — in line with your business objectives — and how you’re going to use the tool you create to achieve it. Doing this will make BPA more beneficial to your organization.

3. Choose a project manager


Just above, I mentioned that the implementation of business process automation is and should be treated as a project — seriously.

Now, one of the best things you can do to make your BPM strategy more effective and eventually get the most out of it is delegating the supervisory responsibility of the project to someone. Assigning a manager to administrate all the behind-the-scenes aspects of the project will only ever increase your chances of getting better results in a timely manner and within budget.

This person will be responsible for managing the entire project, from the app development stage to deployment and to the implementation phase; he should also be responsible for getting feedback and providing analytical reports for making improvements.

Here are some more things he will be responsible for:
  • In terms of communication, he'll be the main contact point for matters relating to the workflow application. 
  • He’ll work with the software provider. 
  • He should ensure everything runs smoothly and that every automation advantage is being harnessed to its maximum. 
  • He should keep an eye on the system and suggest ways to optimize the same for better performance. 
  • He'll receive feedback, suggestions, and complaints from users and ensure that appropriate support is provided. 
Apart from getting the most out of automation, one other benefit of choosing a project manager is that since it's the same intelligence overseeing the whole project, proper organization and effective monitoring will be easily achieved for excellent delivery.

4. Operate with knowledge


Operating from a position of knowledge, as opposed to running blindly, is indispensable for a successful business process automation.

There are two stages to doing this:
  1. Getting the history 
  2. Testing, tracking, and measuring the new system 
What's getting the history about?

Before bringing the new BPM system into operation, try getting an idea of what’s been going on with the current system. Get and evaluate information on how the process or workflow was managed in the past to find out how to best implement the new system.

On the other hand, after you've actually implemented the new automated system, you should perform regular testing and optimization. For this to be possible, you will need to track and measure your BPA metrics to see what processes are working well and which can be improved upon.

The information you discover will guide you to make data-driven decisions and take more appropriate action in optimizing processes, all of which are necessary for making your BPM project an unforgettable one.

5. Go with simplicity


You don't want to end up with a tool that's way too complicated to deploy, manage, or work with. Complexity makes your tools less desirable by potential users. Employees want applications that are simple, user-friendly, and responsive.

Here are some ways to achieve this:
  • Don't over automate. The trouble with some businesses is that they try to automate everything. But it isn't every process that needs to be automated. Do your homework by researching to find out the “automatable” processes in your organization. 
  • Keep the features and data to minimum. Employees do not want to be bombarded with features and information they don't need to see. Moreover, unnecessary data and components in an app or business process can distract workers and contribute to redundancy and inefficiency. 
  • Unclutter your app’s user interface (UI): The better looking an app is, the more it'll attract users, and by extension, the more enjoyable and simpler it'll feel to use. 
6. Standardize the fundamental operations
One of automation’s major benefits is its ability to simplify complex processes.

To get the most out of it, you need to standardize the basic operations that most support this simplification. Standardization makes it easy to work more quickly and within regulations; this contributes to business process optimization.

7. Be prepared for change

Business process management is designed to help organizations identify areas where changes are necessary, so that they're able to get to the next level of operational efficiency more quickly.

With this in mind, you need to prepare your work environment to support this sort of change. If opposed, the benefits that comes with automation may never be realized.

Moreover, you need to be ready to make changes as no process is written in stone. What you initially thought was running smoothly might turn out to be a candidate for tweaking.

Change must be anticipated, recognized, articulated, approved, implemented, managed, measured, and rewarded.

It's time to get started

You wouldn't get the most out of something you aren't working at, would you?

Business process automation offers a plethora of benefits (which we will cover in another post). To enjoy these benefits, you need to first get a go at it.

Joget Workflow is an open source web-based workflow solution that helps organizations build workflow and business process management applications, which can bring together the people, processes, and information needed for effective performance. With it, you can automate business processes using Joget's Process Builder, create enterprise web apps that deliver results, and do a lot more.

Sign up today for free to start using the platform, even if you know nothing about coding.

Wednesday, January 25, 2017

10 Misconceptions About Rapid Application Development You Need to Do Away With

Have you noticed the fuss that's been going on lately about Rapid Application Development (RAD)? A lot of people seem to be talking about it these days. While that's generally good for the industry, there's a problem.

Arising alongside this rave are misconceptions and myths about the technique.

The problem?

Harboring these misconceptions and myths can cause you to misjudge certain concepts which will ultimately result in you making decisions that can affect your business negatively and slow down your organization's progress.

At Joget Workflow, we've worked with quite a number of really awesome organizations and developers who’re using our RAD technology to create great enterprise apps. We've also come across a number of people who had one of these misconceptions or another.

Today, we want to try to lay some of the confusions to rest. We've put together the top ten of these widely held misconceptions so you're better equipped to make smarter decisions and move your business forward.

Ready? Let's jump right into it:

Myth #1: RAD is for creating small applications only
Due to the fact that RAD is a development technique for quickly building minimally-coded software applications, some people tend to believe that it's designed to handle only small applications. But that couldn't be farther from the truth.

Of course, small applications can be built with RAD tools, but it's not limited to those kinds of projects. There are several success stories where applications created with RAD have thousands of users and are processing millions of transactions.

Myth #2: RAD tools are for business users only/RAD tools are for developers only


There are two schools of thought here…

The first one argues that rapid application development is a technique specifically reserved for business users to be able to build apps more easily. The other school of thought believes that RAD is designed solely for pro developers to make their work easier.

While these ideologies are partially true (because RAD makes life easier for both IT and business users), RAD is built for both, not just one of the two groups.

RAD platforms with no-code/low-code functionality provide extremely easy to use drag-and-drop visual development environment for both business users and professional developers, which means the idea behind RAD is to make it possible to develop apps with minimal technical skills in less time.

Myth #3: RAD is for small businesses, not big organizations


Some people are of the opinion that rapid application development is for startups, and not for big organizations. But that's incorrect — big businesses do use RAD but may not tell you.

If you are a big business, there are scads of benefits you can get from rapid application development. For instance, your development and testing time can greatly be cut down due to the reuse of patterns.

Myth #4: If you can code, you should always code instead of using RAD platforms


Well, this assumption is not just delusional but also very finite in scope. Imagine getting told that those who can walk should always walk instead of using cars.

Just as cars make movement easier and faster, RAD tools do the same when it comes to development.

People who can code will benefit a lot from RAD and are probably the best people to make the best use of RAD technology, as they have loftier technical skills and understand development better. In addition, they can easily create add-ons, plugins, and other relevant components to create apps that deliver great experience and meet business needs more intuitively.

Myth #5: You will need expert intervention for professional security and database design


Yes, it's true that professional apps usually require primo security and decent DB design. And in traditional development, the incorporation of these elements are usually handled by expert developers.

With the arrival of RAD, some people still think that achieving professional security and DB design requires expert intervention. But that's totally untrue.

Rapid application development tools come with new technologies including drag-and-drop form builders, automatic table creations, configurable security, and so on. From a security perspective, platforms like Joget Workflow have been scanned and rated by industry leading security services such as HP Fortify On-Demand. With this, non-coders — business users, product managers, and citizen developers — can easily and quickly create apps with top-of-the-line security and automated database design.

Myth #6: Rapid application development will steal the job of the dev


You know, one of the reasons why some developers are at sixes and sevens as to whether or not to adopt RAD methodology is because they erroneously think that RAD will take their job and leave them with nothing.
But hey, don't be misled!

RAD is not a threat to your job security; it's a tool for honing your craft, becoming much more productive, eliminating redundancies, saving time, and making more money in the process.

The world is fast changing and so is the way we work. You don't need to change your job, but rather, change how you work. For developers, it's RAD.

Myth #7: RAD applications cannot be integrated with other business tools

This again is caused by misinformation. A 21st century RAD tool should be able to integrate your applications with other business tools.

For instance, Joget Workflow makes it extremely easy to securely connect your enterprise apps with third-party tools via APIs in a reliable way. Plugins can be downloaded from the Joget Marketplace or custom-built by developers. Business users can in turn use these plugins inside an app without having to write a line of code.

Myth #8: RAD platforms cannot support lots of features


So you think rapid application development works just for ‘light’ apps, huh?

Wrong!

While some RAD platforms may not fully support gobs of features, there are those that let you develop apps that are rich in functionality. And some platforms even make it possible for these features to be customized as per business needs.

Myth #9: You can't create sterling UI/UX using RAD tools

Professional apps built using traditional methods usually have compelling user interface/experience and involve senior front end developers who are adept at HTML, CSS, and Javascript. Some people think creating such UI/UX is only possible with the manual, traditional method.

But here's the kick:

Great UI/UX is achievable with rapid application development methodology.

With RAD tools that have visual development capabilities, out of the box templates can replace the immediate need for UI/UX experts; and point-by-point adjustments can then be done where necessary.

Myth #10: It takes time to build big apps


While some folks think that you can't build major apps with RAD, some others think that the bigger the app idea, the more time it'll take to build it with RAD. They believe there are no limits to the size of your idea but that the real hitch comes when you try to incubate that idea.

Yes, it used to take weeks (even months) to develop big apps, but that’s the old way. In the new era, RAD platforms with minimal coding requirement let anyone with an idea to build an app quickly. That's one of the core objectives of RAD — rapid development.

So don't limit your creative imaginations. Instead, get your hands on a worthwhile RAD tool like Joget Workflow and soar.

Tell you what, over at Joget Workflow, we've witnessed situations where usable apps were developed within hours with our RAD platform, and prototypes within minutes.
And things are getting even more exciting as we're looking to roll out our next major version.

Joget Workflow v6 is coming with lots of upgrades with special focus on user experience, mobility, maintainability, and performance. It'll make building an app super easy, with minimum time and coding requirements.

We hope this article has helped to clear some of the confusions around rapid application development. Please feel free to leave your thoughts and questions in the comment section below.