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How to Switch LC/NC Vendors

Thoughts on saying goodbye to one and hello to another.
Nov | 10 | 2022


Nov | 10 | 2022
🎧 Listen to an audio version of this article on Spotify or Apple Podcasts.

When it comes to low-code/no-code, I know a thing or six. I couldn’t have written the new book otherwise.

Here are two of them.

First, vendor consolidation is an inevitability. There’s just no way that the status quo is sustainable. Consider the vast amount of choice in the contemporary LC/NC universe:

Click to embiggen.

When it comes to choice, the word abundant comes to mind.

Second, breaking up with an LC/NC tool is hard to do. (Cue Better Off Dead reference.)

Here are a few tips on successfully managing the breakup and transition to the new vendor.

Consider the Timing

There may not be a perfect time to retire an LC/NC tool and introduce a new one, but there are certainly objectively bad ones. Here are a few:

  • Right after a major and unexpected employee departure, reorg, or layoff.
  • Right before a critical, planned company event. Examples here include a merger, acquisition, or move to a newer location.
  • During the holiday season.

Communicate the Change Well in Advance

“I’ll just notify the workforce via a company-wide e-mail on Friday that [insert name of tool] is going away on Monday”, said no intelligent leader ever.

It’s best to give employees as much advance notice as possible, particularly because there’s no magic “covert app” button. Put differently, citizen developers will have to recreate their bespoke apps in your organization’s preferred low-code/no-code tool. That takes time.

Speaking of which …

Err on the Side of Caution

Plug formulas into your spreadsheet all you like, but we suck at making absolute estimates. (More here.) For this very reason, Scrum teams rely on Fibonacci sequences and other relative estimation techniques.

Think that the process for porting over apps from Vendor A to Vendor B will take a month?


Plan for two.

Contingency planning is especially important with databases and lightweight systems. Data export and import probably won’t go as smoothly as you’d like.

Offer Training in the New Tool

To be sure, citizen developers are a smart and creative lot. What’s more, there’s a great deal of overlap among vendors’ LC/NC tools. (Execs at Stacker, Buildbase, Zoho, Retool, Adalo, Blaze, Bubble, and Appy Pie all pay close attention to what their competition is doing.)

A day’s worth of training sends a strong signal to employees that management respects them.

At the same time, though, it’s folly to assume that even rockstar citizen developers will be able to pick up the new tool on their own time and dime. A day’s worth of training sends a strong signal to employees that management respects them. They won’t have to recreate their apps with a new LC/NC tool in addition to their day jobs.

Simon Says

Vendor lock-in makes switching tools challenging. Being thoughtful about the transition minimizes the pain involved.

Have you switched LC/NC vendors before? Any tips for others on how to stick the landing?

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