In today’s fast-paced digital landscape, low-code development has revolutionised the way applications are created. Platforms like Mendix allow developers to import domain models, customise app interfaces, and configure logic flows with ease. However, this rapid development speed finds challenges which can severely impact product and project quality, while clients benefit from predictability and reliability. In this blog series, we will explore these challenges and how Valcon tackles these. This blog will zoom in on Valcon specialists and our project management processes.
The challenges of low-code development
The first main challenge is proper backlog management. Although the basics are simple (i.e., a story is created, developed, tested and released), critical time could be lost in this process when developed stories are not according to business expectations, and therefore have to be redone. The second main challenge is to create a high-quality codebase to consistently deliver along the way.
A business rushing its requirements down the pipeline and inexperienced developers are key ingredients to fail upon these two challenges. User stories are often poorly defined, resulting in a story which goes back and forth along the development process (and all tracking is lost when this story is finished, if it ever will be finished…), and code is developed in an ad-hoc manner. This means that new code is simply stacked on top of each other without reusing components or applying generic concepts (often referred to as ‘code spaghetti’).
As a result, it becomes increasingly difficult to develop new features and maintain the application, both because it is unclear what should be made and because the code is complex to expand. While early project phases may yield promising results, new developments will at some point result in more broken features than created ones.
At Valcon, we emphasise the complete end-to-end process rather than just standalone steps. Our T-shaped low-code specialists use their consultancy skills to collaborate with business analysts in creating and refining user stories. These “prefinement” meetings enrich the stories with essential functional and technical information. Besides well-defined user stories, two other benefits result from this end-to-end mindset:
- Due to refinement meetings (without the ‘p’!) all team members are aware of the context of the story. For specific knowledge, the specialist can be approached who prefine the story
- Addressing technical challenges early on enhances efficiency and fosters effective communication between business and development.
Structured backlog and sprint management
Valcon utilises management solutions like Jira. In Jira, swim lanes (columns on the board dedicated to a specific part of the development cycle) are used to streamline backlog and sprint management. This approach provides a clear structure for task prioritisation and progress tracking, facilitating effective collaboration and reducing potential bottlenecks. Strict rules decide when stories are cleared for a subsequent swim lane.
Code quality: peer review and testing
Peer reviews and testing play a crucial role in Valcon’s sprint process. By dedicating separate swim lanes for reviewing and testing, the team ensures that the developed code is thoroughly evaluated based on Valcon’s code quality metrics and functional business requirements. Besides, Valcon employs both static (OmNext) and dynamic testing tools to efficiently test and review the product.
For Mendix projects, specialists apply Valcon’s best practices (which is an extension to Mendix’s best practices) to ensure code quality and a clear codebase. Components are reused as much as possible to create a well-performing, maintainable and scalable product. This results in new features being released in a predictable and reliable way, but also for new team members to quickly pick up the pace. Additionally, teams are generally vertically shaped, such that the experienced team members can guide the less experienced ones.
The combination of the end-to-end mindset, collaborative prefinement meetings, structured backlog/sprint management and thorough reviewing forms the cornerstone of Valcon’s low-code projects. Valcon’s low-code specialists make all the difference as they are involved in all phases of the process. This approach contributes to the development of high-quality products. By adhering to these principles, Valcon delivers top-notch solutions to its clients, where spaghetti code is definitely not on the menu.
Do not hesitate to reach out if you want to know how Valcon can help your organisation.