In a world where digital transformation is reshaping industries at breakneck speed, businesses face a critical decision: embrace the power of rapid application development with low-code platforms or rely on tried-and-tested out-of-the-box solutions.
It’s a clash of innovation versus convenience, as we explore the battle between low code vs out-of-the-box solutions. These solutions offer different benefits and drawbacks, and understanding their nuances is crucial when making the right choice for your business.
If this is what you are looking for, this blog is for you!
What are Low Code and Out-of-the-Box Solutions?
Out-of-the-box solutions, also known as commercial off-the-shelf solutions(COTS), refer to pre-packaged software or applications that are ready to use without requiring extensive customization or development. These solutions are designed to address common business needs and often come with:
1. A fixed set of features,
2. A predetermined user interface,
3. And limited customization options.
OOTB solutions are typically easy to set up and require minimal technical expertise to get started.
On the other hand, low-code platforms have gained significant traction in recent years due to their ability to accelerate application development. They provide a visual development environment that enables users to build custom applications with minimal manual coding.
Low-code platforms offer:
1. A range of pre-built components
3. Databases & API Integrations
These allow users to create applications tailored to their specific requirements.
Differences between low code and out-of-the-box solutions
To make an informed decision between low-code platforms and out-of-the-box solutions, let’s examine the key parameters that differentiate these options.
1. Time to production
(OOTB) solutions are the clear winner when it comes to time. These ready-made solutions are designed for immediate use, allowing businesses to kick off quickly without the need for extensive development. OOTB solutions provide pre-built app structures, designs, and in-built functionalities, eliminating the need for additional development efforts. However, it’s important to note that onboarding, training, and adoption of OOTB solutions may still require some time. If the OOTB solution requires customizations or integrations to the organization’s backend systems, these variables can add to the time-to-market.
These offer varying development times depending on the complexity of the desired application. While building a mobile or web app using low-code development may take anywhere from a few hours to a few weeks, the availability of templates, widgets, and pre-built UI components significantly speeds up the development process. Low-code platforms provide a balance between customization and time efficiency, allowing businesses to develop applications within tight deadlines.
OOTB solutions typically come with monthly/annual licensing fees, upgrade and software support costs, and per-seat charges. While these solutions may seem cost-effective upfront, they often consume time to customize and adapt to specific business needs. Customizing OOTB solutions requires specialized skills and the hiring of relevant specialists, leading to additional costs. In the end, businesses may end up paying more for a limited-functionality OOTB solution compared to a custom application tailored to their specific requirements. However, OOTB solutions may lack specific functionality required for unique business processes and can include features that may not be fully utilized, leading to unnecessary costs.
They offer transparent pricing policies that vary from vendor to vendor. Some low-code tools charge based on the usage of the application being built, while others base their pricing on the number of end-users. This flexibility allows businesses to choose a pricing plan that fits their budget. Additionally, low-code platforms enable citizen development, as they provide drag-and-drop building interfaces and ready-made UI components.
It is also because of this visual and intuitive interface, that organizations don’t have to explicitly hire expensive developers or experts to look after the application, when most of it can be easily done in-house. This cost-effective approach makes low-code development an attractive option for businesses with tight budgets.
3. Flexibility and customization
OOTB solutions are often limited in their customization options, as they are designed to cater to a wide range of businesses with standard tasks. Customizing these solutions can be costly and may lead to additional expenses. Businesses using OOTB solutions may find themselves facing functionality limitations or overwhelming feature sets and unable to add essential features specific to their needs. Think platforms like Salesforce – feature-rich yet in need of a lot of complex customizations to become meaningful. These solutions are not flexible enough to allow for easy extension of app functionality as business requirements evolve.
Low-code platforms, on the other hand, offer extensive customization opportunities. With low-code tools, businesses can customize and brand predefined app templates, widgets, and UI components. This allows for the creation of tailored applications that meet specific business needs. Businesses can start with essential features and gradually incorporate supplementary functionality, ensuring that their applications grow and adapt alongside their evolving needs.
4. Third-party integration
OOTB solutions often have good integration capabilities, making it challenging to connect with legacy systems or new components. While they may suffice for simple integrations like project management systems, they may fall short when businesses require more extensive integrations. There is also the possibility that the API required for a particular use-case isn’t always available, and might require product experts to step in to implement the integration, making it a complex process Additionally, they may not integrate seamlessly with existing systems, requiring additional customization.
These platforms excel in terms of integration flexibility. Most low-code tools provide APIs, plugins, and connectors that allow for seamless integration with various services and systems. Businesses can connect their applications to databases like MySQL, PostgreSQL, Firebase, and integrate with popular services such as Salesforce, Stripe, Twilio, and more. Low-code platform vendors generally provide documentation and guides to assist businesses in implementing these integrations effectively.
OOTB solutions offer built-in security measures, but businesses are entirely dependent on the solution vendor to maintain a high level of protection. If the vendor does not prioritize security, businesses may face significant risks. Additionally, external factors like black hat hackers can compromise OOTB solution vendor servers, potentially exposing sensitive data.
Contrary to common misconceptions, low-code platforms can provide a high level of security. While businesses must secure endpoints when integrating their low-code applications with third-party APIs and legacy systems, low-code platform vendors often offer self-hosted options. This alternative allows businesses to deploy their applications on custom servers and environments, ensuring complete control and protection of sensitive data. Enterprise-grade low code platforms have pre-built security provisions to ensure that your data remains secure even in cloud-hosted models.
Effective support is essential for businesses using any software solution. OOTB solution vendors, especially well-known ones, typically provide dedicated support teams and a wealth of educational resources such as knowledge bases, how-to guides, and YouTube channels. Businesses can rely on these resources for assistance when needed.
Low-code platform vendors also prioritize support by fostering vibrant communities and offering direct support channels. Businesses can seek help from experienced users and reach out to the support team through live chats. Some low-code platforms even provide free training and onboarding sessions to assist businesses in building their applications.
7. Functionality and Features
OOTB solutions are designed to cater to general tasks common in most companies. While they may provide a good fit in the short term, they often lack critical features specific to individual businesses. Additionally, businesses may end up paying for excessive functions that remain unused, resulting in unnecessary costs. OOTB solutions are typically inflexible when it comes to extending functionality on the go, and businesses may struggle to meet evolving needs.
Low-code platforms offer a competitive advantage by allowing businesses to build applications with the exact feature set they need. These platforms eliminate clutter and excess functions, ensuring businesses only pay for what they use. Businesses can start with essential features and add supplementary functionality as required, creating scalable and adaptable solutions.
Moreover, low-code tools make it easy to iterate on top of what you have already built, enabling businesses to enhance their applications quickly and efficiently.
For instance, consider a retail company that wants to develop a refund processing application. With a low-code platform, they can start by building the basic features such as product listings, invoice and order details, and user authentication. As the business grows, they can easily iterate on the existing application by adding features like integrating with financial accounting or shipment processing. This iterative process allows the company to respond to changing customer needs and market demands without having to rebuild the entire application from scratch.
The pros and cons: low code and out-of-the-box solutions
Pros of low-code software
1. Better agility
One of the major benefits of low-code software is its ability to enhance agility within an organization. With low-code platforms, businesses can quickly build and deploy applications with minimal coding knowledge. This empowers teams to rapidly respond to changing market demands and implement new features or functionalities without the need for extensive development cycles. The low-code approach allows for iterative development, enabling businesses to stay ahead of the competition and deliver products to market faster.
2. Reduced cost
Another advantage of low-code software is its potential to reduce costs. Traditional software development processes often require a significant investment in time, resources, and expertise. With low-code platforms, businesses can leverage pre-built modules and templates, cutting down on development time and reducing the need for a large development team. This can result in substantial cost savings, making low-code software an attractive option for businesses with limited budgets.
3. Increased productivity
Low-code software can significantly increase productivity within an organization. By simplifying the development process, businesses can empower citizen developers to create their applications without relying on IT teams. This allows developers to focus on more complex tasks, while non-technical employees can contribute to the development process by utilizing low-code platforms. With increased productivity, businesses can streamline operations, improve efficiency, and accelerate time-to-market for their products or services.
4. Easily changeable
One of the key advantages of low-code software is its flexibility and ease of change. With traditional software development, implementing changes or updates can be a time-consuming and resource-intensive process. In contrast, low-code platforms offer a visual interface that allows users to make changes quickly and easily. This means that businesses can adapt their applications as their needs evolve, ensuring that the software remains aligned with their changing requirements.
Cons of low-code software
1. Users must have a clear understanding of their requirements
While low-code software offers flexibility, users must have a clear understanding of their requirements to leverage its full potential. Without a thorough understanding of the problem they are trying to solve, businesses may end up with an application that does not meet their needs. It is essential to invest time in defining requirements and understanding the limitations of the low-code platform to ensure that the resulting software aligns with the business objectives.
2. You don’t own your source code
With low-code software, businesses may not have full ownership of the source code. This can limit their ability to make changes or modifications to the software in the future. In some cases, businesses may be reliant on the low-code platform provider for ongoing support and maintenance. It is important to consider the long-term implications of not owning the source code and assess whether this aligns with your business strategy and future development plans.
Pros of out-of-the-box software
1. Easy to install
One of the primary advantages of out-of-the-box software is its immediate usability. Businesses can simply install the software and start using it without the need for extensive customization or configuration. This saves time and resources, allowing businesses to quickly implement the software and begin reaping its benefits.
Out-of-the-box software solutions are often more budget-friendly compared to customized solutions. Since OOTB software is pre-built and mass-produced, the development costs are distributed across multiple users, resulting in a lower price point. This makes OOTB software an attractive option for businesses with limited budgets or those looking for a cost-effective solution without compromising on quality.
3. Minimal IT requirements
Another advantage of OOTB software is its minimal IT requirements. Businesses do not need to invest in extensive infrastructure or IT resources to support the software. OOTB solutions are designed to be user-friendly and require little to no technical expertise to operate. This allows businesses to focus on their core operations without the need for dedicated IT support.
4. Vast OOTB selection
Out-of-the-box software offers a wide range of options to choose from. Whether you need accounting software, project management tools, or customer relationship management (CRM) systems, there is likely an OOTB solution available to meet your specific business needs. This variety allows businesses to select a software solution that aligns with their industry, size, and specific requirements.
Cons of out-of-the-box software
1. Limited customization options
One of the drawbacks of out-of-the-box software is the limited customization options available. Since OOTB software is designed to cater to a broad audience, it may not fully align with the unique requirements of your business. Customization options are often limited to basic settings and configurations, which may not be sufficient for businesses with complex or specific needs.
2. Lack of scalability
Out-of-the-box software may lack scalability, especially for businesses experiencing rapid growth or those with evolving requirements. As OOTB solutions are designed for a general user base, they may not be able to accommodate the unique scalability requirements of your business. This can result in the need for additional software or migration to a more scalable solution in the future.
3. Dependency on software updates and support
When using out-of-the-box software, businesses are dependent on the software provider for updates and ongoing support. If the provider discontinues support or fails to release timely updates, businesses may face compatibility issues or security vulnerabilities. It is essential to choose a reputable software provider that offers regular updates and reliable support to mitigate these risks.
4. Limited integration capabilities
Out-of-the-box software may have limited integration capabilities with other systems or software used within your business. This can hinder workflow efficiency and result in manual data transfer or duplicate data entry. Before selecting an OOTB solution, it is important to assess its integration capabilities and ensure that it can seamlessly integrate with your existing systems and processes.
Low code or out-of-the-box solutions
In the realm of software solutions, both out-of-the-box and low-code platforms hold their own strengths and weaknesses. Keeping everything you read in this blog in mind, what do you think is the ideal choice for your business? Low-code or Out-of-the-Box solutions? Maybe you want the best of both?
However, it is crucial to explore beyond the surface and consider the implications of what you gain and what you potentially miss out on.
When evaluating options, it is vital to ponder the unaddressed needs and requirements of your company that an out-of-the-box solution may overlook. What critical functionality would you have to sacrifice? How much are hidden fees going to impact your budget? And perhaps most importantly, are you ready to adapt your business processes to fit the limitations of an off-the-shelf solution, or would a low-code platform offer a more tailored and efficient alternative?
For those seeking a standardized solution with no specific functionality and limited scalability, an out-of-the-box approach may suffice. However, if your aim is to achieve competitive advantages through extensive customization, seamless integrations, and cost-effectiveness within tight budgets, the low-code path emerges as the optimal choice.
How DronaHQ is your best-fit solution?
With a wide range of features that enable rapid and efficient app development, let’s dive in and discover why DronaHQ is your best-fit solution.
What is DronaHQ?
DronaHQ is a leading low code platform that empowers businesses to build, deploy, and manage custom applications with ease. It provides a visual development environment that allows users to create applications using a drag-and-drop interface, reducing the need for manual coding. DronaHQ’s platform is designed to streamline the app development process, enabling both technical and non-technical users to collaborate and create powerful applications.
1. Customizable components for powerful functionality
DronaHQ offers a vast library of over 150+ in-built controls, such as Table Grid, Card List, Charts, Dashboards, and Form controls. These pre-built components are thoughtfully designed to be responsive and native across different devices, ensuring a seamless user experience.
2. Enterprise-grade security features
DronaHQ places a high priority on the security of its users’ data. The platform keeps sensitive information safe and protected from any potential breaches or unauthorized access. To ensure the security of users’ data, DronaHQ offers self-hosting options. This means that instead of relying on external servers or third-party providers, users have the option to host their data on their own servers. This provides an extra layer of protection as the sensitive information remains within the user’s own infrastructure, under their control.
By offering self-hosting options, DronaHQ allows users to have complete control over their data and how it is stored and accessed. This is particularly important for organizations that deal with highly sensitive information or have strict regulatory requirements.
3. Seamlessly integrate with any API
DronaHQ’s low code platform provides seamless integration capabilities with any API. Whether you need to connect to popular business tools like CRM systems or custom-built APIs, DronaHQ offers the flexibility to integrate with any external service. This ensures that your applications can leverage the power of existing systems and data sources, enhancing their functionality and usability.
4. Self-host DronaHQ on-prem
For organizations that require on-premises hosting of their applications, DronaHQ offers a flexible solution. With the ability to self-host DronaHQ on-premises, businesses can maintain control over their data and infrastructure while still benefiting from the rapid development capabilities of the low code platform. This feature is particularly beneficial for industries with stringent data security and compliance requirements.
When it comes to selecting the right software development solution, IT and CXO teams must carefully evaluate the specific needs, budget constraints, customization requirements, and long-term scalability of their organization. Both low code and out-of-the-box solutions have their pros and cons, and choosing the appropriate approach will depend on various factors unique to each organization’s situation.
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