What is low-code?
Low-code platforms, like Microsoft Power Apps, Mendix or Outsystems, simplify application development by providing a visual, almost drag-and-drop interface that can be understood by both developers and business users.
Companies often use low-code to accelerate app development, reduce associated costs, align business and IT departments, and gain control over the entire application lifecycle.
Low-code and public transport
Our client, a public transport company in the Randstad area of The Netherlands, scored well overall on the National Public Transport Barometer. Its only significant weakness was informing passengers in the event of a disruption.
It was held back in this area by information that was frequently out of date, incorrect, and inconsistent across different channels. The company’s goal was to improve its performance in this regard, taking user satisfaction scores from 4.8 to 6.5.
It’s important to note, that although 6.5 may not seem like a high score, it is well above the national average for this kind of event. Scores in this area are often lower than others as, regardless of how it’s handled, customers have still experienced a disruption.
The primary challenge for the traveller information employees tasked with keeping customers up to date, was obtaining accurate information from traffic controllers who handled disruptions.
Our client searched for the right IT solution to support this process. It required:
- A single user interface to ensure message consistency across all channels
- The ability to be flexible, adding or deleting communication channels while maintaining consistent messaging
Unfortunately, there were no standard, cost-effective solutions available on the market for the traveller information process, which meant our client would have to develop its own. However, it knew other public transport companies had good experiences using low-code solutions for these processes.
A low-code solution would provide the user interface as well as the workflow functionality and data exchange between different applications.
Our client designed an architecture and established the high-level requirements for the project. It then started to implement the first MVP, but there was a problem. It wasn’t clear which business goals were being met by the solution, or where it could further optimise the traveller information process.
It was clear that to create a winning solution, the company would have to develop a detailed understanding of its business processes. At this stage, the client reached out to Novius, a company of Royal HaskoningDHV, to help redesign the incident processes and analyse its biggest bottlenecks.
One of the first things we noticed was that many different software applications were used to support the processes, each of which had its own information flows, manual checks, and operations.
The aim was to improve the quality of information delivered to customers, even during the most complex disruptions, and ensure that information reaches as many travellers as possible. The client therefore needed to distribute this information quickly, reliably, and consistently across channels.
Our initial analysis resulted in the identification of a variety of improvement points. These included service improvements, efficiency opportunities, clarity on tasks and responsibilities, clear policies and guidelines, and IT improvements that could augment each of these areas.
Ultimately, we concluded that the low-code solution was the right choice, but more could be gained from it. With that in mind, we clustered improvement points and translated them into initiatives, prioritised them, and made a roadmap for improvement. This roadmap was key to our client realising these improvements.
After implementing all these improvements, the information provision in case of disruptions has measurably improved. Its 4.8 rating has now grown to 6.0, which is the national average. And the client expects this to improve in the future.
The client is also now able to add or delete communications channels quickly and efficiently, while still ensuring consistent information.
In this situation, a low-code platform was the ideal solution. It enabled the client to act swiftly on changes to the regular service, communicate consistent and reliable information to travellers across multiple channels, and easily customise a sole application for creating and publishing vital information.
Because we conducted robust analysis of various incident processes, we were able to fully understand the client’s needs and formulate a solution that met its exacting requirements.
This made implementation far easier. And, once implemented, the solution became a big lever for realising business goals and overseeing a radical improvement in the sharing of information.
Low-code solutions can be introduced to help overcome numerous business challenges, but they’re especially useful when:
- There is no readily available application that solves the problem at hand
- There are clear, scoped business processes a low-code application can support
- Users want to create their own applications
- There is a small budget available
- Existing applications can not be adapted quickly or without incurring excessive costs or risks
- Business processes or services are often changing
- Rapid response is required to meet changes in the market
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