Dynamic Apps Agile Edition

Quickly build your next low-code application in five steps

Let’s face it. The idea of building an app can be daunting. Where do you start? What do you need to know? How long will it take? Building a low-code app with Dynamic Apps Agile Edition isn’t that complicated and can be done quickly with the right structure to follow.

Issue 1, 2018 Download PDF

If you’ve built apps with a Business Process Management Suite (BPMS) you’ll probably think the starting point for your new app is the process flow. You’ll define the process, model it and then pick up data that will flow through the process either through direct human input or through integrations with other systems. The Dynamic Apps Enterprise Edition provides all those tools you’re familiar with using and includes an Agile Edition-a way to create low-code applications rapidly.

If you wish to create a low-code application, you’ll need to think about your application from a data-first perspective. In the Dynamic Apps Agile Edition you can assemble low-code
apps faster than you thought possible by following this five-step structure:

  1. Capture the information you want to track
  2. Define which groups of people are involved in the process
  3. Model the process you want to automate
  4. Apply business rules to define standards and best practices
  5. Configure charts and reports to help you analyze the data

Step 1

Let’s start with Step 1, capturing the information you want to track. In many tracking-style applications the whole point of the application is to take content that’s in analog forms and convert them into online forms for online form completion, record storage and retrieval, collaborative form updates and performance metrics on data that’s stored.

To begin, you’ll go through the exercise of decomposing paper forms into AgileApps fields, field types and validations. So, the first name, last name labels on a paper form become separate text fields in an AgileApps form.

You’ll go through this “atoms to bits” conversion for every field on the paper form to build out the AgileApps digital form.

Once those fields are created, you can visually rearrange the form fields to make data entry more logical, human friendly and sometimes make it closely resemble the paper form layout so that users will be familiar with what they are experiencing on the screen.

If this is strictly a data tracking application, then the work stops right there. However, most of the time that’s not all users want out of their online application. In fact, now that the form is digitized it opens up new possibilities for them that they never thought possible.

Figure 1: Visually rearrange form element to enhance ease of use.

Step 2

This is where Step 2 comes in. Now that the form is online some questions will arise:

  • Can you have a data quality review and sign-off before its finalized?
  • Can you have different roles complete different parts of the form?
  • Can you send the form through a process for approval?

What you are doing in this step is thinking through which groups will take action on the data-you’ll create teams, roles or people who’ll complete each task. For example, you might have team of data specialists so that anyone who’s a member of that “data specialist” team can review the form for data quality. You might have a role of manager and anyone belonging to the role “manager” can approve the data specialist work, and you might designate a specific individual who can provide final approval of the form once it’s sent to them.

Using visual constructs, you can create teams and roles and add people to those teams and roles to reflect the organizational structure and how the work will get done.

Figure 2: Assign tasks and approvals to teams, roles or individuals.

Step 3

Now Step 3: Model the process you want to automate. First think about what an approval process looks like. How many steps are there? What actions take place with each step? Who takes action with each step? What are the next steps after all the tasks or conditions are satisfied?

If you can create a workflow on a whiteboard you have the skills you need to build a running process in Dynamic Apps Agile Edition. By launching the process editor you’ll see a streamlined palette of process tools that lets you define tasks, approvals, connections, branching conditions and sub-processes.

Here are the questions you’ll ask:

  • How many steps are in my process?
  • In each step, is it a task or an approval?
  • Does the process require branching based on form content?
  • Who’ll complete each step-a specific person, or anyone on a team or a role?

That’s basically all you need to get started.

Begin by dragging to the worksheet a task or an approval. Next, add some basic information about it, such as the name of the task “Qualify Customer Data.” Next, assign who’ll complete the task from the radio buttons provided. The task is go to a queue for a team assignment, and a queue for a role assignment where anyone can pick up those tasks and complete them or the task can be assigned to a specific person for completion. Next, draw the subsequent task and repeat until done. You can then connect all the tasks with direction of the flow lines or insert conditional gateways that allow you to dynamic determine the flow of the application. For example, if an order is <$1,000, automatically approve, but if the order amount >$1,000 do a credit check on the customer and assign a task to the credit officer role to do this. You get the idea.

Figure 3: Drag and drop process steps and tasks.

Step 4

Step 4 is where you’ll refine what you’ve already created. Here is where you apply business rules to define standards and best practices that define how the work is done.

Business rules will help you evaluate the content of the data that’s collected and apply your organization’s know-how and then take action based on that data-update a form value, notify someone, start a process, etc. You can layer in as many business rules as are needed.

For example, if a customer order amount is > $10,000, then maybe you want to automatically start some expedited customer onboarding process? Maybe you want to assign that customer to a sales manager role in a territory? Maybe you want to assign a higher priority to the record? Maybe you want to send the customer a customized email? Maybe you want to do all of these items at once. That’s up to you and your organization’s best practices and policies.

The application is now mostly designed. We have an application with an online form, we have people organized into units of teams and roles for handling their work assignments, we have a process flow that will create tasks for people and advance the process to the next step when the tasks are completed or approved, and we have business rules that capture the best practices for how and when actions need to be taken based on the contextual data in the form.

However, it’s not enough just to store this data. You need to use the data to make better decisions.

Figure 4: Use business roles to capture best practices.

Step 5

Step 5 uses application data to create meaningful charts and graphics that convey important information and help the department understand what’s going on in their application. Using the integrated charting and graphing tools in Dynamic Apps Agile Edition, users can visually configure charts and reports using a wizard that will guide them through the process of creating a report and analyzing data.

Reports use the real-time data that’s collected in the application and provide ways to group data by defined rows and columns, select which data to show in columns, filter result by data or dates, color code results, add totals or do other mathematical operations, and then select a chart type mapped to the data that will be displayed.

The end result is a report with a chart and table of data. This can be customized at any time and all the variables can be changed to create a new report. By clicking on any saved report, the platform will retrieve all the data collected, and then sort and filter the results to match your report criteria.

In addition to that, you can use components of these reports in your application dashboards to provide useful summary information to help manage the application and workflows.
For example, you might want just the chart part of a report that shows order amounts so you can see graphically orders above or below $10K. You might want the table part of a report on your dashboard to show the top 10 largest customer orders for the month sorted by order size high to low. These are just examples but it’s very easy to create customized dashboards and even assign dashboards to different roles so that the finance manager sees financial summary metrics and the customer service manager sees new customer support metrics.

Figure 5: Use dashboards to display summarized performance charts or tables.

That’s it. Following these five steps can provide you with a simple and useful structure to quickly create your low-code application.

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To learn more about Dynamic Apps, visit dynamicapps.softwareag.com

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