Low-code 101

An Introduction to Low-Code Platforms

Low-code software is at the forefront of a movement that helps users without coding experience build applications and workflows that solve problems and increase productivity.

No-code 101

An Introduction to No-Code Platforms

No-code software is at the forefront of a movement that allows nearly any business user to design and build applications to solve problems and increase productivity.

What is low-code?

Low-code refers to software designed for the rapid development and delivery of applications, workflows, or automations. Low-code software allows users without coding experience to build the solutions they need using an intuitive visual interface.


These platforms are described as “low-code” because they require less coding than conventional software development methods. Low-code platforms are also sometimes referred to as "no-code" software.

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What is low-code app development?

Low-code app development refers to the use of a low-code tool to simplify and speed up the development cycle. Instead of building an entire app from scratch — a process that requires coding — low-code allows apps to be developed and built using a visual user interface. 


Think of low-code as a set of IT-sanctioned building blocks. Users without coding experience organize the blocks to create the apps and workflows they need. This speeds up the traditional development cycle, conserves developer resources, and builds a co-creative relationship between business teams and IT. 


The purpose of low-code development is to give business teams the tools they need to stay agile without adding to the IT backlog.

How do low-code platforms work?

Code is a set of instructions that programmers convert into a machine-readable language. Once the instructions are translated into code, the machine can understand and complete its task.


Not everyone possesses coding experience, which means that team members on the business side need to collaborate with programmers to get business apps or solutions built. In some cases, this dependency can slow down development, especially when programmers have limited bandwidth. Coding is a resource-intensive process that consumes developer bandwidth and can lead to an IT backlog. 


Low-code alleviates this bottleneck by reducing or eliminating the amount of code needed to develop an app, automation, or workflow improvement. Low-code platforms use visual interfaces that allow non-technical users to design and build an application quickly and easily, using an IT-sanctioned toolbox. 


For example, the process of building a form that captures requests or data usually requires new code to be built from scratch. When developers create a form, they translate each order into lines of machine-readable code.


A low-code platform — like Pipefy — displays the front-end elements, back-end procedures, and third-party integrations in graphical form, which a user can arrange and manipulate using a visual user interface. The low-code platform carries out these graphical representations of instructions as if they are written in code.

When developers create a form, they translate each order into lines of machine-readable code. The code to create a basic form might look something like this:

A low-code platform — like Pipefy — displays the front-end elements, back-end procedures, and third-party integrations in graphical form, which a user can arrange and manipulate using a visual user interface. The low-code platform carries out these graphical representations of instructions as if they are written in code.


So, creating a form in Pipefy looks like this:

See how low-code automation helps business teams stay agile while keeping IT in control

Low-code vs. no-code

The terms “low-code” and “no-code” are sometimes used interchangeably because of the overlap in their functionality. So what is the difference between low-code and no-code? As it turns out, not much.


Low-code platforms are designed to allow non-technical users — typically business teams — to build and modify some of their apps, processes, and workflows on their own. This speeds up the development cycle and keeps business teams agile.

IT teams retain control over the platform in order to enforce security, compliance, and governance requirements. Low-code platforms conserve developer bandwidth and allow IT teams to contain their backlogs. That’s where the term “low-code” comes from. These types of platforms require less coding and consume fewer developer resources than conventional development cycles. 


Some types of low-code platforms — such as low-code business process automation — also enhance the apps and systems of the existing stack. This is known as stack extensibility


Low-code integrates with the existing tech stack to help orchestrate workflows and fill process gaps. Low-code automation can also act as a unifying system of engagement.


Platforms that are called “no-code” share some of the same functionality as their low-code counterparts. Like low-code, no-code software emphasizes a visual user interface that makes it easy for non-technicals users to solve some problems on their own. For example, a drag-and-drop menu that teams use to manage data inside an application is an example of no-code functionality. 


Platforms that are considered “no-code” are really built with end users in mind. They emphasize the fact that business users won’t need any code to use the app. That may be because the app is highly specific to a particular use case or limited to a certain team or department. But at some point, any app or system that gets added to the stack will require some support from IT or developers.

Benefits of low-code

Low-code technology is one of the most important catalysts for driving digital transformation, process improvement, and business agility. It is used by organizations of all sizes and types. 


In addition to speeding up the development cycle, low-code platforms can also deliver a range of additional benefits.


Developer bandwidth

Conserve developer resources and reduce the IT backlog.


Stack extensibility

Get more from existing apps and systems with integrations.


System of engagement

Create an orchestration layer and solve process gaps.


Risk reduction

Process standardization avoids errors and shadow IT.


Citizen automation

Empower business teams with more agency and agility.


IT-Business partnership

Build co-creative partnerships that solve problems quickly.

Low-code platform features


Low-code platforms are designed to be used by non-technical personnel. But they also include features that make life easier for IT. Low-code platforms should include built-in security features such as encryption, SSO, 2FA, user management, and permissions. Look at a platform's uptime, its compliance with GDPR and LGPD, and the quality of its audit logs. Some low-code platforms — such as low code automation — help standardize processes and workflows. This makes it easier for IT teams to enforce security requirements and avoids the common problem of shadow IT.

Visualization tools

Low-code platforms rely on a visual user interface to make features accessible to non-technical personnel. Look for platforms that provide high-quality visualization tools to make work visible and easier to track. If the platform is being used to manage workflows or processes, look for options that offer multiple views such as Kanban, calendar, or task lists.


Another benefit of low-code platforms is that they enable solutions, automation, and processes to be scaled. This happens when teams can use the same building blocks to create new solutions quickly, and adapt them with speed as needs change. Low-code solutions that offer a forms feature make it easier to capture and sync data with systems of record. Workflows and automations are easily duplicated across teams and departments. 


The average number of apps, systems, and databases that teams rely on continues to swell. Any low-code platform that gets added to the stack should offer a wide range of integrations in order to simplify adoption and implementation. Low-code automation software also provides a system of engagement that complements existing components and helps teams get more from their apps.

Reporting capabilities

All low-code platforms should include reporting features that improve visibility and enable data-driven decision making. Teams should be able to see statuses at glance, track the progress of items in the workflow, and share information and insights through customizable dashboards and reports, as well as audit trails.

Low-code use cases


The processes and workflows handled by HR and People Ops teams are among the most complex in any organization. They often require input or action from teams in other departments such as finance, facilities, and IT. These processes also depend on collaboration with a variety of internal and external stakeholders. 


Low-code helps HR teams build processes and workflows that fit their unique needs, and which can be quickly adapted as internal requirements change. To support collaboration, low-code can be leveraged to easily build forms and to customize user access. 


Typical HR processes that benefit from low-code include recruiting, employee onboarding, employee request management (HR service desk) and PTO requests.

Sales and CRM

One of the most important core business processes, the sales process generates revenue for the business and creates value for your customers. The workflows and tasks that make up the sales pipeline stages require structure, consistency, and visibility. All of these can be achieved with low-code. 


Low-code allows the sales team to automate repetitive tasks and route approval flows using rules and conditionals. Scheduling meetings, follow-ups, and building consistent communications with prospects is also simplified with low-code. If the sales pipeline ever needs to be changed, the sales team or sales manager can quickly make adjustments without having to send a ticket to the IT team.


Finance teams manage a variety of workflows and processes that often require input or data from external sources. These processes often rely on a complex array of apps, databases, and systems. This makes it especially important that teams use tools that simplify integrations, data capture, and dissolve silos. 

One of the benefits of a low-code automation tool is that it maximizes stack extensibility, or the ability to get more from existing apps and systems. Low-code platforms fill process gaps with easy-to-configure workflows. They also simplify the creation and sharing of forms that finance teams can use to capture and manage incoming requests or data, and then sync those with the system of record.


IT teams get two types of benefits from using low-code platforms. The first is that low-code reduces the amount of coding they have to produce. Low-code invites business teams into a more collaborative role, and gives them a visual interface they can use to make some changes on their own. This also alleviates pressure on the IT backlog. 


IT teams can also benefit from low-code platforms in their own work. Low-code automation is particularly useful for IT service request management.


A typical marketing team manages and coordinates requests from multiple stakeholders. That includes internal teams, external contractors, and a variety of distribution channels. Marketing teams organize, create, and monitor performance for a wide range of assets and projects. This means their workflows and processes are complex and interdependent. 


Marketing teams benefit from low-code platforms because they offer an easy solution for developing new workflows, as well as modifying existing ones. Since marketing activities are both complex and time-sensitive, low-code helps teams stay agile and responsive, without overconsuming developer bandwidth.

Low code FAQ

Are low code platforms only for large enterprises?

Low-code tools make sense for any organization with limited resources, especially in terms of IT bandwidth. Low-code development (whether for apps, processes, or automations) helps both small and large businesses that need to:


  1. 1. Deliver solutions quickly.
  2. 2. Close the gap between business and IT.
  3. 3. Conserve developer resources.

What is a citizen developer?

Citizen developers are non-technical employees (usually on the business side) who take an active role in planning and building solutions such as apps, processes, or automations. Most often, a citizen developer is someone who has hands-on experience with the problem or process at stake. Citizen developers use low-code platforms to build and manage their solutions.

How are apps developed without code?

The only way to develop apps, processes, or automations without code is to use a low-code platform. Even then, some code is involved in the development process. However, it’s just packaged into visual building blocks. Remember: low-code still requires some coding work, but far less than traditional development.

How does low-code benefit BPM?

Business process management (BPM) is a broad discipline that aims to establish visibility and control over all the processes in an organization. Common BPM tactics include process mapping, process automation, and process orchestration. 

Low-code complements BPM activities by enabling IT and business teams to work together in order to solve issues related to process efficiency. Low-code platforms that focus on business process automation (BPA) are especially useful for BPM activities, and can be part of a low-code BPM strategy.

How does low-code enable automation?

Low-code tools allow business users to create solutions using a visual interface. These solutions include a wide range of automation possibilities such as automatic notifications and emails, data entry, approval flows, request routing, and updating databases. Business users can create the automations they need quickly and easily, using an IT-approved set of low-code building blocks.

Explore Pipefy's low-code BPA platform

Pipefy's low-code platform empowers businesses to sharpen their competitive edge. With a wide range of IT-approved tools, non-technical teams are able to develop and deploy process changes as market conditions or business strategies evolve. 


In addition to scaling process automations that streamline workflows and eliminate manual tasks, Pipefy orchestrates processes for seamless end-to-end visibility with both internal and external users. With a data-driven platform that prioritizes user experiences, leverage key insights into process performance for better customer experiences and more productive teams.  


This not only improves the efficiency of existing or new processes, but it also leads to less errors or redundancies, clearer communication, and better business results. With Pipefy, businesses maintain business agility, promote team accountability, and cultivate a culture of continuous process improvement.

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