Every company has limited resources to work with, and getting the most out of those resources is a top priority for many.
You can’t always find additional staff or make more time in the day, so finding ways to increase productivity and efficiency is critical.
Automation is one of the best ways to optimize your company’s talent, their time, and their skills, and it’s becoming more accessible than ever. But with many choices for automation, it might not be clear how to get started or what approach to take. Should you be using tools like Zapier and Integromat to start automating your workflows, or are you better off developing an application to streamline your process?
In this post, we’ll explain why no-code and low-code automation is a better use of your company’s resources than creating custom automation software.
Developing custom software is lengthy and expensive
Custom software can be an appealing solution for workflow automation, but it can also come with a lot of issues that you might not have anticipated. From the initial cost of building your automation to finding engineers to maintain it, custom software is going to eat up a significant amount of your resources.
High cost of custom software
Software development is almost always a costly endeavour. If you’re working with a development agency or contractors, your price tag can easily run into $50k, $100K or more just for the initial build of your project.
Developing the software internally won’t be cheap, either. If you’re using your internal engineering staff to build automations, you’ll likely be consuming the time and attention of some of your best-paid employees who could be working on more urgent tasks. While they’re developing automations for your internal systems, they won’t have as much time to work on client projects and directly generate value for the company.
Long build times
Software development is a lengthy process. Building any product, whether it’s an app designed for customers or an automation for internal use, can often take months or years to finish. Any changes along the way can cause delays and push the timeline back even further.
Once it’s built, your software will need constant updates to keep performing at the same level as it does on Day 1. It will need security updates to patch up any vulnerabilities that emerge, and feature updates as you refine the application to suit your company’s needs.
All of these updates will require a developer, and will only add to the cost of your software.
Ultimately, unless you’re selling the application to your customers or clients, developing custom software is likely not going to be a cost-effective or quick way to start automating your workflows. It might be necessary if your company operates in a highly specific niche, but in most cases, no-code and low-code automation will be a better use of your limited resources.
Automating with no-code and low-code platforms is more affordable and faster
What is no-code/low-code automation?
If you’re not familiar with the term, no-code and low-code automation is all about connecting two or more apps together to build automations, all while writing very little code - or none at all. Several no-code/low-code platforms are available today, with Zapier and Integromat being two of the most popular and widely used. Each platform has its own specialties, but they all operate on similar principles.
To build a no-code or low-code automation, you start by identifying a “trigger” event in one of the apps you’re already using. Then, you add “actions” that should be performed automatically whenever that trigger happens.
For instance, you might set New meeting in Google Calendar as your trigger, and send a Slack message as your first action. With that setup, you can have an automated Slack message sent to you with key meeting information whenever one is added to your calendar.
No-code/low-code automations can get much more complex from there as you add more steps, filters, and logic, but simple automations are often a great place to start.
What’s the difference between no-code and low-code?
No-code automations are built without needing to write a single line of code. Instead, everything is done through a simple UI, where you can select items from menus and enter data without any special syntax or formatting. Zapier excels as a fully no-code platform, though it does have low-code capabilities as well.
Low-code automations are still mostly built through a UI, but they can also include a few lines of code for things like API calls, looping, or other more advanced functions. They require some technical knowledge, but you don’t need to be a software developer to build a low-code automation. Integromat is a more robust platform for building low-code automations.
Since the two are so similar, we tend to group them as a single concept: no-code/low-code.
No-code/low-code is an affordable way to automate
Compared with the 5- or 6-figure cost of building a custom application, no-code/low-code automation is a much cheaper solution. Subscriptions to platforms like Zapier and Integromat start at around $20/mo, and even their most expensive plans for enterprise users are only a few hundred per month. Even at the most expensive tiers, no-code/low-code is a fraction of the cost of custom software development.
Start building faster with no-code and low-code
A simple automation like connecting your Google Calendar to Slack can be easily built within a day. More complex automations could take a few weeks to set up, particularly if you want to accommodate several different scenarios with a single automation.
In any case, you can get a no-code/low-code solution up and running much faster than you can get a functional MVP ready for a custom app. The timeframe for low-code will usually be in weeks or a few months, while software development will be several months or over a year.
Low-code means low maintenance
With no-code/low-code, maintenance is (mostly) not your problem. If you’ve got a Zapier automation connecting Hubspot and Quickbooks, each app’s developer will maintain and update their software as needed. Hubspot and Quickbooks will handle their own updates, and Zapier’s team will make sure everything still connects.
Of course, you may want to change how your automation works after testing it out and seeing how it performs with real world data. You’ll need to make any feature updates or changes yourself when building a no-code/low-code automation, but making edits is much simpler when you don’t have to write extensive code to get it done.
Anyone can learn no-code and low-code automation
At XRay, we encourage everyone to build automations that can streamline their workday. While our experienced technicians take charge in building automations for our clients, everyone on our team has been able to create an automation that helps them out, from project managers and designers to content writers and administrators.
Anyone on your team can learn how to build, maintain, and edit low-code automations. Of course, if you’d rather keep your team focused on their current disciplines, automation specialists like XRay can always help to automate your workflows. Even if you’re working with an outside company for automation, it’s still a huge benefit to be able to understand how the automations work, and to be able to make small updates yourself.
Make the most of your resources with no-code/low-code automation
Whether you’re working with in-house developers or through an agency, custom software development can be a lengthy and expensive way to automate your workflows which can be difficult to update and maintain.
For most companies, low-code/no-code automation is a better use of your resources. It’s faster to get set up, the cost is more affordable, and it’s easier to maintain. Plus, you can train your own team to work with low-code automations or even do it yourself.