Learn What Sets No-Code/Low-Code Apart from Software Development

While they're rooted in similar technical concepts, no-code/low-code automations and software development fill two different roles. In this post, we'll explain the difference between the two and help you figure out which you need for your business.

Written by

June 18, 2021

Because of their names, no-code and low-code automation often get mixed up with software development. 

While no-code/low-code has roots in software development and relies on existing applications to work, the two are ultimately distinct disciplines. As such, you’ll get very different services and results from an automator like XRay when compared to a software development shop.

In this post, we’ll clarify the distinctions between automation and software development so that you can figure which is a better fit for what your business needs. 

Automation Connects the Apps You’re Already Using

No-code/low-code automation uses platforms like Zapier and Integromat to connect the apps that you use every day. They work based on an “if this, then that” flow of triggers and actions.

For each automation, you specify a single trigger event and one or more actions. Whenever the trigger event occurs, the automation will then perform all of the specified actions.

For instance, if you use the popular kanban software Trello and want to automate it with Zapier, you could set your trigger to be “New Card in Trello”. If you want to have the content of each new Trello card sent to you as a direct message in Slack, you could then pick “Send Direct Message in Slack” as an action event.

Automation tools use a GUI to let you connect the tools that you're already using.  This is a view of the Zapier Flow connecting Trello, Airtable and Slack
A simple automation in Zapier

The organizational context of each automation is extremely important, which is why our techs always strive to understand the processes and objectives of each of our members. For example, our techs always make sure to configure automation triggers so that they only run under exactly the right circumstances. After all, you don’t want to do things like accidentally send emails to clients that are only meant for internal use.

Ultimately, well-designed automations help you to work faster and more consistently by replacing error-prone manual tasks with mechanically identical automated tasks. Implementing automations is a quick process, and XRay can build and refine your first automation within just 45 days.

Software Development Lets You Build a New App (Which Can Also be Automated!)

Where automation platforms connect existing tools, software development lets you build entirely new ones. If you have an idea for a new messaging platform, shopping app, or rideshare system, you’ll need to work with a software developer to make it happen.

Software development is typically a fairly lengthy and expensive process, as specialized engineers architect and write code to create each feature and function. 

XRay.Tech is not a software development agency, and if you plan to make an entirely new app as part of your business, you’ll need to work with a different company. However, we can recommend dev shops that we’ve worked with before.

Additionally, once your app is finished, XRay can automate it with no-code and low-code automations.

Automations Improve Your Business

If you have workflows in place that are getting good results, automations will support your workflows by achieving the same results faster and more consistently. 

Software development on the other hand will create an entirely new program for you to sell or to use internally. It may enhance your current workflows, or it may replace them entirely with a new process. 

If you imagine your current workflow as a bicycle, building an automation is like upgrading your bike with an electric motor. It's a fast and affordable upgrade, you'll still operate your bike in exactly the same way, and it still is capable of largely the same things - it just makes it faster and easier to do them.

By contrast, software development is more like replacing your bike with a custom-built, all-terrain car. The car is undoubtedly a more capable vehicle in many respects, but it's a total overhaul that will take a lot more time and money.

Pick the solution that works for you

If you're getting the results you need with your current workflow, but just need to get them faster, then automation is what you're looking for. If your workflow requires a comprehensive software tool that just doesn't exist yet, then software development may be what you need.

If you're still not sure whether automation is a good fit for your business, reach out to us and we'd be happy to discuss your needs and goals.

If you'd like to learn more about XRay's approach to workflow automation, check out our blog or our YouTube channel. You can also follow XRay on Twitter, Facebook, or LinkedIn.

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