Jason Adolf

How the public sector can navigate low code implementation

While the public sector is not typically seen as a leader in innovation, adopting low code technology can help them deliver quick efficiencies in their sector, attendees at Appian World 2019 recently heard.

Low code technology allows companies to quickly build business applications not by creating endless lines of code but by adding pre-developed components together to help them reach their goals. That is an appealing recipe for government personnel tasked with explaining its merits to decision makers concerned about down time, expense and training of staff.

Some government departments start from a technology deficit. In the case of Vermont’s Agency of Transportation, that meant going from legacy technology and actual carbon copies to optimizing between 200 and 300 workflows, BPM program manager June Burr said.

“Low code allowed us to take users and SMEs out of the stone age,” Ms.Burr said.

Crucial to the strategy’s success was regular communication between key groups, she explained. They met weekly from the beginning to formulate an idea all the way through implementation. That produced buy-in throughout the team and put them into a mindset of how they could optimize system effectiveness.

Was it effective? For every dollar invested in low code solutions, $50 in savings were realized, Ms. Burr said.

The Food and Drug Administration receives 200,000 regulatory submissions every year, director, Office of Business Informatics at the Center for Drug Evaluation and Research Hilmar Hamann said. As dozens of staff process those submissions they repeat between 50 and 100 tasks per case.

Begin by recognizing the scope of your goals for low code implementation, Mr. Hamann advised. Think enterprise and not piecemeal. Invest in training, including that offered by Appian, which can range from one to 10 days. It helps to foster buy-in.

“The number one challenge is buy-in,” Appian’s industry vice president for the public sector Jason Adolf confirmed. “The complexities of governments buying anything means just because it’s a good idea doesn’t mean I can actually do it.”

Jason Adolf

There will be conversations with other departments, but make sure they are properly framed, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s CIO for National Marine Fisheries Service Roy Varghese said. Low code platforms allow the purchasing body to quickly get the core technology in place so the software development team can focus on implementation and articulating value.

When discussing systems modifications with other departments, the conversation was not about low code but of they key business problems which need to be solved.

“It allows you to be efficient in business processes so you can drive the science,” Mr. Varghese said.

The Federal Transit Administration built its Transit Award Management System (TrAMS) with Appian technology, Marianne Bowen said. Even though her agency now sees a higher volume of applications, processing time has been cut by 25 per cent and most grants are now awarded in the same fiscal year as the application.

On the reverse, dealing with the public sector is very different than working with private industry, Mr. Adolf said. The cost to the vendor is much higher and procedures are drawn out.  Producing buy-in on a process that could take years to complete is delicate when budgets are developed annually.

Make good use of those drawn out periods, Mr. Adolf advised. Address security and other back-end issues so they are ready as implementation day nears.

Dealing with governments also has its advantages, Mr. Adolf added. Many contracts are one year with four options so if you do well you have some certainty. Use cases  also translate well from municipality to municipality, region to region and even country to country.

“They basically do the same things,” Mr. Adolf said. “It’s been very good to us.”

Other quick tips:

  • Give ample time to migrate data from old systems;
  • Address security issues such as access levels up front;
  • Prioritize early delivery over perfection: and
  • Use customer feedback to enhance the application.

Learn more about how Appian’s technology is being applied by the Marine Corps and Conference of State Bank Supervisors:

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