No-Code Automation: Definition and Top 5 Tools

What is no-code automation?

No-code automation refers to software platforms that empower businesses to automate manual or repetitive work for efficiency and cost savings. It optimizes workflows with intuitive, user-friendly interfaces for those with no previous coding knowledge or experience. Process automation is one of the most effective ways to leverage no-code technology because of its capacity to save resources. 

No-code automation tools play a critical role in business process and workflow management. In the realm of business process management, it’s a solution that many organizations are adopting to address business challenges caused by rework, errors, and time-consuming and inefficient manual workflows. 

Three types of no-code technology

Because no-code tools don’t require technical coding knowledge, no-code automation puts process building into the hands of non-IT professionals. Some, known as citizen developers, have accumulated insider system knowledge over their tenure at a workplace. They find processes with the potential for automation and then give input into how that might be done. 

To get a clear picture of what no-code automation looks like, let’s examine the three main technology types behind it.

Prompt-based tools

These automations are enacted by prompts, most often as typed or spoken instructions. If you use Siri or Alexa regularly, you’re already familiar with prompt-based tools: you request information and the software evaluates the information, finds the most appropriate answer, and responds. ChatGPT is the latest incarnation of prompt-based automation.

Pre-defined text tools

These no-code tools are pre-loaded with lists of text containing instructions that the user can choose from. A human resources process, for example, might begin with “When a new hire’s contract is received” as a trigger, then “Alert payroll with an email” as the resulting action. The payroll team (or a specific member) receives an alert to rotate a new employee into the payroll cycle via workflows of their own.

Selecting a preset action may sound limiting, but in fact, the opposite is true. The countless options some pre-defined text tools offer make them a fantastic vehicle for customizing a process to exact specifications, from end to end.

Visual tools

Visual automation tools take a graphical approach to no-code. Processes and workflows are arranged in a simple, highly organized interface that includes clear lines, arrows, and color coding. 

Visual tools not only make it easy to follow a task through the workflow, but they also simplify learning to build those workflows. For some businesses implementing a new no-code automation tool, it’s a priority to hit the ground running, optimizing their processes as quickly as possible for scaling and/or cost savings. Visual tools empower employees to do just that, with minimal guidance or training. 

What are no-code automation tools?

Our foray into the technology of no-code automation should give you some idea of the different kinds of platforms available to businesses. For an overview of the four main types of no-code automation tools – terms that are often confused with one another – keep reading.

Business process management (BPM)

BPM refers to the discipline of building and improving processes, as well as the software used to accomplish these goals. Depending on the business need, BPM can consist of either a framework or of a tool deployed within that framework. Think of BPM as a strategy that coordinates people, processes, and technology to help the business achieve its goals. 

Business process automation (BPA)

Sometimes confused for BPM, BPA is a tool for building, managing, and automating processes. It leverages the low-code framework to emphasize ease of use, scalability, and agility. It often includes features such as process orchestration and task management.

BPA software gives organizations the capability to:

  • Create process visualizations.
  • Build and automate processes and workflows.
  • Create and route documents.
  • Allow users to modify processes as needed with various permission levels.
  • Integrate a wide range of apps and systems like ERPs, CRMs, Docusign, and LinkedIn.

Robotic process automation (RPA)

RPA automation tools consist of scripts, or bots, that repeatedly perform the same specific task. They don’t provide the wider range of functionality of BPM or BPA, but, when applied to short, simple tasks that humans find time-consuming and tedious, RPA tools shine as true workhorses. They are best utilized alongside other features and play a key role in AI process automation.

Artificial intelligence (AI)

A recent survey of business leaders conducted by Pipefy found that 61% of C-suite executives look for generative AI functionality when considering process automation solutions. 

That number is too big to dismiss and reveals the critical role AI will have in the future of business efficiency.Those executives are seeking the product enhancements that AI lends to traditional process automation tools, namely the ability to:

  • Intake information as humans do (natural language processing),
  • Recognize patterns and learn from them (deep learning),
  • Make decisions autonomously (powerful data analysis algorithms), and 
  • Learn and replicate coding languages (analysis algorithms and RPA). 

Benefits of no-code automation

BPA and BPM have revolutionized business process management, and no-code has ushered in yet another era in the discipline. Adopting a no-code automation tool or incorporating it into an existing tech stack delivers several added benefits to your daily operations. 

Pipefy’s survey of business leaders found that the primary drivers behind the adoption of process automation software include:

  • Increasing efficiency,
  • Improving productivity,
  • Reducing errors,
  • Creating more time for employees to focus on value-creating work,
  • Conserving IT resources,
  • Cost savings, and
  • The need to scale processes or workflows.

For many of the leaders surveyed, the anticipated benefits of no-code automation ranged from making better business decisions faster, improving agility, creating better collaboration between teams, and achieving more consistent process outcomes. 

Those you may want to consider when looking for a no-code tool of your own include:


The name says it all: no coding background or experience is required to learn and/or use no-code automation tools. Your employees and the customers they serve are instead treated to an intuitive, user-friendly graphic-based interface designed for daily use.

Many no-code tools incorporate several user-friendly features to transform a department’s processes into ones of efficiency and productivity:

  • Dashboards display the results of real-time data analyzes in a simple, organized format.
  • Forms are customizable, pre-built questionnaires designed to capture all data required to open a service request within your company. The information that forms glean follows the request as it moves through phases of a process.
  • Templates are pre-built documents that can be customized with just about any information and repeatedly used when called for. They can take the form of various types of notification emails (approval signature needed or past due tasks, for example) and documents ranging from NDAs to change requests.
  • Portals group multiple related forms, templates, widgets, and hyperlinks onto one screen or web page for efficiency, convenience, and organization. 

Conserving IT resources

“Doing more with less” is a conundrum businesses reluctantly settled upon during the COVID-19 outbreak, but the global shortage of developers has now made it a mantra for many IT departments. No-code diverts requests from IT’s already crowded work queue by empowering citizen developers and non-tech teams to maintain their own workflows and solve issues without making IT requests.

Fortunately, AI’s appearance in the no-code universe has once again revolutionized the service request process. Common questions go to AI-powered chatbots for fast, reliable help. It’s the dictionary definition of “win/win”: Employees and customers get the help they need without delay, allowing IT teams to focus on issues of bigger significance. 

Eliminating waste

Any action in a process that isn’t necessary is considered waste. It hides in several forms, including product defects (lost time and costs in re-doing work) and overproduction (lost time, costs, and resources). 

No-code platforms cut out the time, effort, and confusion of tasks like manually sending status updates, physically taking documents to approvers, and updating spreadsheets multiple times per day. 

One or two daily emails can be dismissed as inconsequential. But imagine the time savings of 15 employees newly relieved of sending 10 confirmation emails per day. Now consider six recipients of each of those messages who no longer must hand-key the information into an ERP. Waste adds up quickly; no-code automation pinpoints and eliminates it.

Improving performance

No business adopts an entirely new system of operations without looking for an uptick in company and employee performance. It’s high on the priority list as new tools are researched and considered. No-code automation leverages multiple methods to ensure the continued improvement of an organization and, in turn, its continued competitive edge in the market. These include: 

  • Speed Iteration is the nonstop repetition of a task. It is a key feature that AI lends to no-code automation. Bots are programmed to interpret and continually analyze unstructured data, allowing businesses of all sizes and data types to not only speed up the rate of their processes to a significant degree, but also find, diagnose, and repair anomalies instantly.
  • Accessibility, collaboration, and security. Cloud computing leverages servers, apps, and development tools for hosted services and computing resources via the Internet. It grants users mobile access to the no-code platform at any time from nearly any place, introducing a new level of internal and external collaboration. Additionally, the high level of web-based security that cloud computing delivers extends to the data of you and your customers, as well. 
  • Integrations. Tech stacks continue to grow increasingly complex. New systems designed for ease and convenience can, ironically, make it very challenging to manage processes that depend on multiple apps and ERPs. Most no-code tools feature API connectors that optimize the flow of data and communication between existing tech stack systems to create cohesion, dissolve data silos, and improve data accessibility and consistency. 

What to look for in no-code automation software

For business leaders researching process automation tools, it can be incredibly tempting to adopt the system with the most features that the budget allows. 

What looks dazzling in a demo can disappoint when it falls short in streamlining your company’s processes. We’ve listed a few attributes below to get your no-code automation hunt started:

Ease of use

Make this the first, second, and third priority for your no-code platform of choice: it’s that important. Look at who, exactly, will be using this tool throughout your organization. The levels of comfort with new applications among them probably vary. Tools with intuitive interfaces, simple instructions, and minimal screen clutter tend to work for everyone.

Minimal learning curve

As we mentioned above, no-code platforms with lots of advanced features won’t work for all businesses. A tool with too steep a learning curve will discourage and frustrate employees, many of whom may already have feelings of apprehension about their new responsibilities. 

For a wide variety of reasons, 70% of process improvement initiatives are not successful. Explain to your workforce how, exactly, the transition will benefit each individual and give clear go-live dates. Your employees deserve the best possible experience with no-code automation; provide them with the training necessary for a successful no-code implementation.

Excellence customer support

Customer support requests may be the only time many of your employees will have one-on-one contact with the people behind your no-code automation tool. Repeated bad, or even mediocre experiences, create a sense of frustration and distrust. Choose companies that have clear protocols for help requests, provide timely follow-ups, and make support available to your company when issues arise.


In most cases, growth isn’t planned; it tends to happen in unexpected spurts. Businesses can prepare for it, however, by implementing the right tools to make scaling as painless as possible.

No-code platforms reduce business departments’ dependency upon paperwork and spreadsheets, two formats that are notoriously resistant to efforts to scale. No-code automation also allows teams to use conditional logic and rules to sort and route items in the workflow. They eliminate bottlenecks and reduce delays, both of which limit scalability because they reduce capacity.

Top 5 no-code automation tools

Below you’ll find an examination of a few leading no-code automation tools and their main features, uses, and drawbacks. Note that what might appear to be a limited — and therefore limiting — functional tool for one business could be the streamlined platform that offers others exactly what they need. 

1. Pipefy

Best use case

Rapidly optimizes HR, IT, and Procurement operations for efficiency and cost savings. 

Key features and integrations

The Pipefy no-code business process automation (BPA) solution empowers businesses to quickly deploy workflows for excellent service delivery, starting with request creation. 

Pipefy’s AI feature also helps scale custom business processes, reveal new insights, uncover root causes, and provide visibility into key data like number of requests being processed, delays, SLAs, and more.

Real-world example

Grocery delivery company James Delivery saw orders skyrocket as the COVID-19 pandemic spread. Forced to recruit, hire, and onboard new employees in an extremely short amount of time, they attained 134% ROI in 2 months after implementing Pipefy, solving their scaling challenges.

Security options

SSO, 2FA, 99.9+% uptime, infrastructure and data spread across 3 AWS availability zones, all data encrypted in transit, market standard password complexity for code repository, email provider, and AWS


  • Starter plan: free; up to 5 processes for up to 10 users with basic automations
  • Business plan: $26 per user per month
  • Enterprise plan: custom pricing; contact Pipefy
  • Special small business plan: custom pricing; contact Pipefy

2. Zapier

Best use case

Creating app integrations

Key features and integrations

Zapier moves data from one app to another using trigger/action automation.

Real-world example

The addition of a new customer to an organization’s records triggers an automatic action by adding them to a MailChimp subscription list. 

Security options

Third-party auditor certifications with AICPA’s SOC for Service Organizations, SOC 2 Type II, and SOC 3

Pricing (pricing increases when adding tasks to plans)

  • Free plan: 100 tasks per month
  • Starter: $22 for 750 tasks per month
  • Professional: $54.50 for 2,000 tasks per month
  • Team: $332 for 50,000 tasks per month)
  • Company: $660 for 100,000 tasks per month

3. Airtable

Best use case

Low-code database creation and integration

Key features and integrations

Airtable gives users the means to create apps and manage processes from one platform.

Real-world example

SEO teams can create keyword research libraries by importing data from many types of spreadsheets, including CSV files, Google Sheets, and MS Excel.

Security options

ISO/IEC 27001:2013 certified, Service Organization Controls audit (SOC 2 Type 2) compliance, and SOC 1, SOC 2, and ISO 27001 certified data centers.


  • Free account (1,000 records per base, up to 5 editors, and 100 automation runs)
  • Plus plan ($10 per seat per month)
  • Pro plan ($20 per seat per month)
  • Enterprise plan (custom pricing; contact Airtable)

4. Bubble

Best use case

App creation/development

Key features and integrations 

Builds any interactive, multi-user apps for desktop and mobile web browsers with no coding necessary. Fully extendable with Javascript plugins or connect to any API with no-code API connector. Connect with popular analytics and customer management services such as Mixpanel, Google Analytics, or Segment to check your app’s CPU usage, page views, real-time workflows, and more.

Real-world example

Businesses use Bubble’s apps to build their own, customized ERP systems, saving costs and time.

Security options

Built on AWS, SOC 2 Type II standard compliant, GDPR-compliant DPA     


  • Free plan (development version)
  • Starter plan ($29 per month)
  • Growth plan ($119 per month)
  • Team plan ($349 per month)

5. Coda

Best use case

Multi-user document management solution

Key features and integrations

Coda is a no-code project management tool that allows businesses to create multi-user documents that act as applications.

Real-world example

Businesses use Coda as advanced portals, creating team hubs for meeting information, pinned hyperlinks to documents and Slack channels, and the ability to send data between all of those sources.

Security options

Defense in Depth, Least Privileges, and Attack Surface Area Reduction. Follows AWS best practices for network security with AWS CloudFront, AWS WAF, AWS security groups, and VPCs.


  • Free (editors and viewers)
  • Pro plan ($10 per person per month)
  • Team plan ($30 per person per month)
  • Enterprise plan (custom pricing; contact Coda)

No-code automation tool comparison

Let’s do a direct comparison of those tools based on best use, the availability of a free option for users, and pricing scale.

ToolBest use caseFree optionPrice
PipefyRapidly optimize HR, IT, and Procurement for efficiency and cost savingsYesStarter plan: Free; up to 5 processes for up to 10 users with basic automation
Business plan: $26 per user per month
Enterprise plan: Contact Pipefy
Small business plan: Contact Pipefy 
ZapierApp integrationsYesFree plan: 100 tasks per month 
Starter plan: $22 for 750 tasks per month
Professional plan: $54.50 for 2,000 tasks per month
Team plan: $332 for 50,000 tasks per month
Company plan: $660/100k tasks/month
AirtableLow-code database creation and integrationYesFree plan: 1,000 records per base, up to 5 editors, and 100 automation runs
Plus plan: $10 seat per month
Pro plan: $20 seat per month
Enterprise plan: custom pricing; contact Airtable
BubbleApp creation/developmentYesFree plan: development version
Starter plan: $29 per user per month
Growth plan: $119 per user per month
Team plan: $349 per user per month
CodaMulti-user document management solutionYesFree plan: editors and viewers
Pro plan: $10 per user per month
Team plan: $30 per user per month
Enterprise plan: custom pricing; contact Coda

Next steps in the no-code automation world

Removing the programming language barriers of traditional coding enables users to design, create, and tailor systems for their specific needs and challenges. As the vast divergences and uses of the tools outlined above suggest, no-code is a rapidly evolving field. What, then, lies on the horizon? 

The best answer we have at present is AI. Businesses in many different sectors are already harnessing the power of artificial intelligence to optimize the processes that comprise their operations and make work more productive and rewarding for employees. 

In the not-too-distant future, machine learning AI algorithms will completely automate workflows most businesses currently conduct manually, like sales lead management, purchase order approval, and expense reimbursement. Further ahead, we can look forward to complete or near-complete app integration, setting up many apps to work together as a single system.

Pipefy’s no-code BPA solution brings several user-friendly tools to the table that optimize workflows and streamline operations. Its centralized platform can be accessed by stakeholders across departments and workflows with no previous coding knowledge. 

Its automated alerts, powerful analytics (including instant reporting and real-time performance dashboards), and convenient internal and external portals empower users with a complete toolbox for operational visibility and control of data, processes, and great customer experiences.

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