IT innovation can confer a competitive advantage, but what happens if your IT team has to use all of its resources just to keep up with day-to-day tasks? Sure, your legacy systems may be operating as they should, but they likely can’t support all of the new processes, workflows, and technologies organizations need to innovate and stay ahead of the competition.

Some of the drawbacks of this are obvious—it takes longer to develop new apps or solutions when bandwidth is stretched thin and your team is constantly in maintenance mode. Plus, a frustrating lack of IT innovation could drive away top talent and widen skills gaps that might already exist.

Fortunately, low-code platforms can provide solutions to IT teams struggling with the following backlog and innovation challenges so that they can refocus on moving their organizations’ systems forward.

1. Getting stuck in development

The global pandemic changed a lot about how we work. A study from Mercer found that over 85 percent of companies are embracing flexibility and hybrid work from home models, but many organizations are still struggling with digitizing and modernizing their workflows and processes to support remote work.

The quick transition to at-home work highlighted just how reliant many businesses were on outdated, often paper-heavy systems. According to Forrester, nearly 65 percent of companies are still running much of their operation through Excel spreadsheets, and many legacy systems and processes are ripe for modernization. Currently, too many potentially game-changing ideas and applications are getting stuck in limbo between the IT department and leadership, and these operational bottlenecks can extend development by months.

To save time and innovate quickly while still meeting business needs, organizations need to turn to low-code. Low-code platforms can help reduce deployment time, break down silos, and enable businesses to build at scale. Rather than taking four to five months on a single project deployment, your company could get multiple ideas up and running within weeks. Testing and tweaking are relatively simple with low-code, and you can easily pivot from ideas that don’t work without feeling like you’ve lost months of time and effort.

2. Being reactive instead of proactive

Another significant drawback of not innovating is that your IT team is always playing catch up. When you’re on the back foot and constantly working on outdated systems, you can only focus one or two steps ahead—just enough to get you to where you need to be at that moment—leaving little or no room for innovation or long-term planning.

A lack of IT innovation in departments swamped with requests can also lead to a rise in shadow IT. Shadow IT refers to situations where users employ third-party applications to expand their capabilities without consulting the IT department first. This not only adds more complexity to your IT team’s plate, but it can also increase frustration on the business side of the organization if workers believe they have to take matters into their own hands to fill in gaps in disjointed systems or processes.

When IT teams aren’t operating from a defensive position and can focus on creating new apps, processes, and workflows, the need for Shadow IT goes away. Low-code platforms can serve as the perfect sandboxes for developing solutions with the proper guardrails in place, streamlining the process of creating business-specific applications and solutions without jeopardizing quality or system safety.

In addition, because development is often much faster with low-code, IT teams that leverage it will have more time to seek input from end-users on how solutions could be improved before and after they are released. In many cases, internally developed applications will be much more streamlined and fit in well with current systems and processes.

3. Widening the talent gap

As a result of the IT skills gap, many companies are finding it difficult to hire enough IT professionals to address all of their needs. This gap is negatively impacting everything from innovation and productivity to company morale, and according to a 2020 study by GlobalKnowledge, “67% of IT decision-makers believe skills gaps cost their employees between three and nine hours of work per week.”

One key advantage of low-code systems is that they can enable citizen developers to get involved and take the reins on smaller, less complex projects. In addition to supporting employee upskilling, this can help organizations save money on hiring and allow them to future-proof their current workforce.

With a low-code platform, employees throughout an organization can easily make simple updates to workflows and processes quickly, and in many cases with no code at all. This can reduce the number of minor requests in the IT backlog, increase productivity, and grant the department more time to dedicate to innovative development.

To stay competitive and avoid the need to play catch-up constantly, companies must update their legacy systems and close the IT skills gap. Your IT team, along with citizen developers, will be at the forefront of iterating new products and services for your customers and employees, and low-code can help make their work more proactive, efficient, and cost-effective.