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Low-code selection guide: 9 tips for ISVs

ISVs (Independent Software Vendors) are facing an ever-increasing technological debt. The solution is functionally complete, but the underlying technology is often very outdated. Low-code appears to be the most sustainable and fastest solution to resolve this problem. However, many ISVs are still skeptical about low-code development.

Many software vendors believe that low-code is only suitable for so-called ‘Citizen Developers’ or just for small applications. But nothing is further from the truth. It is not only extremely suitable for complex applications, but it also produces results much faster. Low-code is seen as the future of application development.

But how do you select the right development platform? This guide provides you with questions that you can use during the search for a low-code platform for your organization.

1. Automatic upgrade to new UI technology

If, as an ISV, you want to optimally benefit from a low-code platform, then it is essential that the modeled applications can be easily upgraded to new technologies and architectures. Without having to completely rebuild them. This avoids periodic investments in modernizing the software and enables you to focus on further improvements to the application.

2. Multi-tenant and multi-instance

Building an application is one thing, but when designing the database for a multi-tenant application, it must be clearly defined which objects are facts and which are specific to a particular tenant. For example, a tenant must have a column like “tenant_id”. So, make sure your low-code platform allows for each database to have its own Identity & access management (IAM) if the customer wants to do their own user management, for instance.

3. Data protection and privacy

During a time in which SaaS is experiencing rapid growth and an increasing number of people are working from home, the protection and privacy of data is now more important than ever. A low-code platform for ISVs must therefore provide support for things such as OpenID for secure authentication with as wide a range of external platforms and standards as possible. In addition, it is important that Two-Factor Authentication (2FA) is supported, as well as Role Based Access Control to provide access to information and applications based on roles. Along with granting detailed access to specific data, the use of that data should also be logged, so that it is always transparent who has seen and modified certain information. Furthermore, a platform must be GDPR compliant and be able to automatically anonymize personal data.

4. Service tier for external connections

We live in a world full of data streams and API’s, so it goes without saying that a low-code platform also needs to fully support these. If you need to custom-build every integration, the benefits of low-code quickly vanish into thin air.

5. Manageable customization for customers

Some ISVs keep their software as standard as possible and complement this, in some cases, with thousands of configuration options. Other parties give each customer personalization options, with the consequence that the software becomes increasingly difficult to manage. If you, as an ISV, opt for low-code, then it is important that the platform provides support for various branches of the software. Different versions of the software can then exist alongside each other, without this affecting the implementation of updates or continued development. Ideally this covers both the data model, the UI model, and the business functionality.

6. Software documentation and specifications

How do you keep a large software product manageable? Because the bigger the application and the longer the history, the more difficult it becomes to keep everything well documented. This applies not only to traditional software development, but also for low-code development. So, select a platform that integrates the recording of specifications and documentation during the entire development process. For example, Thinkwise offers a graphical method to model business processes, including all functional requirements. You can always review why a specific function was developed and which decisions were taken at that time.

7. Support for machine learning

Traditional logic is not always sufficient to resolve certain business problems. For some decisions human estimations based on insights are still the best, but in certain complex situations, using (big) data, machine learning algorithms can provide very useful insights. ISVs and their customers often have access to a wealth of historical data that can potentially contain many new insights. Therefore, select a low-code platform that supports machine learning, so that you can train models based on your data and subsequently automate decision-making or business processes.

8. Importing & modernizing applications

Large business applications contain the DNA of an organization, including in-depth market knowledge and working methods, which are the result of years of experience. If you want to transfer this wealth of knowledge and experience to a low-code platform, then it is extremely useful when there are tools available that support this process. For instance, Thinkwise has developed the Upcycler, a tool which reads meta data from legacy applications and can partially convert this information. This tool recognizes dozens of technologies and gives you a 20 to 40 percent jumpstart when modernizing software.

9. Dynamic modeling

Especially during the development of large low-code business applications it is important that modifications to core functionality do not have to be carried out at different places within the low-code model. You can solve this with dynamic modeling, where a model is modified and expanded using queries rather than through graphical modeling tools. For example, a timestamp column can be added to a table, which is subsequently updated in all current and future tables. Dynamic modeling considerably increases the productivity, quality, and uniformity of your applications.

Webinar: The low-code platform for Independent Software Vendors

Has this guide inspired you to take a closer look at low-code for ISVs? Please have a look at the on-demand webinar: The low-code platform for Independent Software Vendors