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Choosing a Low-Code Platform Vendor

Susan Coleman, Content Marketing Manager
December 10, 2021

So, you’ve done your research on low-code platforms and learned about the speed, agility, and security they bring to application development. This sounds like a good direction for your organization, which means it’s time to learn more about the various low-code vendors and what they have to offer. But where to start? As with any growing market segment, you’ll find a rapidly expanding pool of low-code providers, many with similar products and services, and all with their own strengths and weaknesses. You’ll need a targeted approach, both to narrowing the vendor field, and to evaluating those vendors lucky enough to make your short list.

As is often the case when faced with a big decision, the first step you should take is to consult the experts. Trusted analyst firms, such as Forrester and Gartner, offer unbiased assessments of the major low-code players, as do some of the tech news and media outlets. First-hand testimonials can be even more telling when it comes to gauging a vendor’s real-world performance. Here again, Gartner offers valuable insights, this time from actual customers, in its low-code application platform (LCAP) Peer Insights. Other review sites, where customers can weigh in on LCAP vendors’ performance, include TrustRadius and G2.

Once you’ve got your short list, you’ll want to compare and contrast all the vendors to see how they stack up against one another. But to do this effectively, you’ve got to put as much work into educating them about your operations as you put into learning about their offerings. Vendors need to understand your processes, goals, and unique challenges. This can be achieved by holding a half-day or full-day workshop with each vendor to walk through your operations and zero in on the opportunities they present. It’s a far more productive way of spending both your time and the vendors’ time than clicking through yet another one-size-fits-all demo.

If the workshop has convinced you that the vendor(s) could be a good fit for your needs, there are a few different ways you can move forward:

  • Request a custom demo. Based on the findings from the workshop, your on-site team would work with the vendor’s remote team to design and iteratively configure a small representative application to simulate the desired functionality and user experience.
  • Conduct a proof of concept. A more hands-on approach, the proof of concept requires the vendor’s team to work on a project on-site with your development team within a set amount of time. This gives you the opportunity to experience the vendor’s platform in action as you create an application from start to finish.
  • Run a proof-of-concept bake-off. Same as above, only you’re running proofs of concept simultaneously with all vendors under consideration. This provides an ideal environment for accurate side-by-side comparisons of all the aspects that are important to you, such as design complexity and speed, functionality, user experience, etc.

Regardless of the approach you take, whether custom demo or proof of concept, make sure you:

  • Do a technical deep dive with each vendor. This will help you understand the platform architecture and technical capabilities, as well as the experience your developers can expect.
  • Tour the visual designer. Again here, you’ll want some hands-on time to get a feel for what your designers would see as they work through the various design phases and iterations.
  • Get a free trial or free basic version of the platform. Your developers can then work with it outside of the demo or proof-of-concept environment to better evaluate it in a more real-life setting.

Selecting a low-code platform vendor is less about doing tons of research and asking for loads of information, than it is about doing the right research and asking for the right information. You’ll know you’re partnering with the right vendor when they can provide all you need to get you started and support you throughout your low-code journey.