Using low-code development platforms to improve citizen experience can improve data accuracy, increase the adoption of government services, and ensure accountability. It can also enable enterprise-like agility, giving federal agencies the flexibility to react quickly to changing policies.
The federal government hasn’t traditionally been known for its ability to adapt on the fly. But the world is changing, and federal agencies are facing fast-changing situations that require flexible, agile solutions. Climate change is producing more severe weather systems and other natural disasters. Growing political divide is forcing policy change by executive order. And globalization is putting regulatory pressure on domestic programs. Federal agencies need a way to quickly amend both back-end and front-end systems to ensure critical decisions are being made with the latest information and logic.
Unfortunately, many federal systems were built decades ago on archaic development platforms and languages. A simple change to policy (increasing weekly unemployment benefits by $100, for example) can require pouring through thousands of lines of code. The code then has to go through extensive regression and quality assurance testing to make sure the software still performs as expected. This, of course, can take months to complete — leaving the people that need quick assistance in the lurch.
Low-Code to the Rescue
Low-code development platforms can help federal agencies react more quickly to policy changes by extracting business logic from the rest of the application. Low-code allows agencies to edit values and have those changes propagate back through the code — all in one touch. This eliminates the need to edit the actual code and push applications back through extensive testing, speeding time to production. It also ensures that potentially life-saving decisions, such as disaster aid, federally-backed insurance and small business loan qualifications, are made accurately with the latest information.
Here are three ways federal agencies can use low-code development platforms to better adapt to a fast-changing world:
- Be adaptive to citizen needs: When disaster hits — whether it’s a deadly tornado, global pandemic or economic depression — people in need don’t have time to wait for aid applications and self-service portals to be updated by hand and run through extensive testing. They need help now. Low-code allows non-developers to go in and make changes to front- and back-end systems to reflect fast-changing policy changes. That way, citizens can be assured that their requests are being handled appropriately and accurately in a timely manner.
- Modernize applications: Legacy systems are hard and expensive to maintain. As systems get older, tech debt continues to snowball — putting enormous financial and operational burdens on agencies while making it nearly impossible to rip and replace. Low-code development platforms allow agencies to augment these systems and bring them up to modern standards — paving the way for leveraging modern technologies such as artificial intelligence (AI), machine learning (ML) and multi-cloud infrastructure.
- Meet citizen expectations: Someone facing economic disaster or the loss of their home doesn’t have time or the patience to trudge down to a local government office to apply for aid. They need to be able to access any forms or documentation online or through a mobile device. Perhaps government workers or volunteers can be sent into the field with tablets to collect and process information. Low-code development platforms can help federal agencies deliver citizen experiences on users’ own terms at cloud-scale. This architectural flexibility makes it easier to amend policies and roll out services that people expect.
The modern world means that government policies need to change quickly and seamlessly. However, it may take time to update publicly available information and adapt existing processes to address these changes. Low-code can improve citizen experiences by adapting these changes quickly and seamlessly. That way, when a policy is changed, information and processes can be updated quickly, making sure citizens are getting the experiences they deserve.
You may also be interested in “Customer Engagement and Trust in Government: Divergent Paths?” and “How to Digitize Mission Processes for Better Customer Experience.”
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Jason Adolf is a public sector expert for Appian, an enterprise low-code development platform.