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Low-Code: the Next Big Thing in Supply Chain Technology

Every supply chain is unique, and every stakeholder in that supply chain has distinctive needs. That creates complexity—a lot of complexity. In business, complexity is the enemy of efficiency. It drives up costs, increases the chances of errors, and slows things down.  

These types of complications have an outsized impact on software platforms. Every unique need, circumstance, and use case needs to be planned for and addressed. Many platforms work only to specific, predefined outcomes—customers don’t have access to the underlying code or an easy way to customize the software to their needs. 

This can be a significant problem..

Innovation moves at enormous speed, but most vendors and enterprises struggle to keep up. As your business needs to adapt, your software can lag behind, leading to missed opportunities. This is especially true in the supply chain, which is under constant pressure from:

  • Changing consumer behavior and purchasing choices.
  • Social expectations regarding the sourcing, manufacture, and distribution of products. 
  • Environmental, social, governance, and legal concerns and regulations.
  • Disruptive events such as COVID-19.

Digitization by itself is no longer enough. Organizations need access to intelligent data and meaningful insights to plan for and react to these changes—that demand greater transparency throughout the supply chain. 

Moving to a low-code or no-code supply chain platform will significantly increase speed while reducing costs. Aligning supply chain software with your business’s need for innovation lets you adapt to the market faster and compete in ways that have not been possible before.

Configuring Supply Chain Software is a Very Involved Process

The process of customizing your supply chain software to work in a particular way is challenging. It typically involves:

  • Preplanning for every supply chain circumstance, eventuality, and possibility.
  • Identifying the needs of all the supply chain stakeholders you interact with.
  • Clearly understanding what you need your supply chain software platform to do.
  • Finding gaps between the supply chain platform’s current capabilities and what you need.
  • Talking to a vendor to have code written that configures the platform to your needs.
  • Working with your own IT and Supply Chain Management teams to customize and integrate the software.
  • Testing the modifications made by the vendor and in-house teams to ensure everything works as planned.


The Drawbacks of Traditional Supply Chain Platform Optimization

Source: iStock

An inefficient supply chain software change process results in challenges for your business:

  • Difficulty analyzing, understanding, and requesting configuration changes.
  • Risks that new configurations won’t work as planned.
  • Delays in implementing new functionality and integrations.
  • Costs for development and maintenance from the vendor.
  • Complex interdependencies with internal teams and external software providers.
  • Additional effort within in-house teams.

“Traditional coding refers to working with an entire team of developers and programmers to gather specific requirements, develop a plan, and work with a development team to create custom code for an application to meet the specified needs. Although the traditional approach is an acceptable method, these projects are often complex, expensive, and are delayed due to multiple factors: Software coding errors, inaccurate estimation, testing challenges, and infrastructure delays.”—Marutitech: No Code/Low Code vs. Traditional Development 


Fortunately, there is a better way—using a low-code supply chain software platform like Topo.


What the Low-Code and No-Code Movement Means for Software Platforms

Low-code and no-code platforms make it much easier for customers, end-users, in-house IT teams, and other stakeholders to manage their software in a more efficient and streamlined way. Here’s how they work:

  • A vendor makes all or part of their platform accessible in a low-code or no-code environment.
  • The customer identifies a specific requirement or change that they want to make to how their version of the software functions.
  • The customer’s in-house teams take advantage of the vendor’s environment and use simple tools like drag-and-drop interfaces, sorting, filters, and other features to make changes.
  • The customer’s teams check that the changes work as expected. 
  • The customer’s teams push the changes “live” and they take effect immediately for all users. This completely removes the need to involve the vendor and means that certain changes and configurations can be entirely managed by the customer.


An Example of a Low-Code Supply Chain Change on Topo

  • Due to marketplace and legal changes in a country where you make sales, you need to conduct additional tests on the products you source.
  • You identify the information you need to collect from your supplier to comply with the latest laws and regulations.
  • You design an interface in the low-code Topo environment, using drag-and-drop and similar tools.
  • You test the interface with your supply chain stakeholders  
  • You can make fast and agile changes to the interface based on feedback.
  • Once the interface is ready, you immediately deploy it to your entire supply chain network and start collecting the data required
  • You can further enhance this interface with automated workflows, analytics, and integrations

Low-code and no-code platforms do run on code, it’s just that the end-user doesn’t need to use that code. Instead, vendors create low-code environments that hide the detailed code behind simple interactions and interfaces that customers are already familiar with.

No-code and low-code platforms are slightly different. A no-code platform typically requires no knowledge of coding at all, while a low-code platform will often need a little coding and development input to get the most out of the environment. For convenience, we’ll refer to both as “low-code” in the rest of this article.


The Advantages of a Low-Code Supply Chain Development Platform

Low-code platforms are becoming popular across the tech industry:

  • Vendors put supply chain customers in control of their applications.
  • Customers can quickly and easily build and test new supply chain interfaces, applications, integrations, and more in-house.
  • Vendors like Topo can offer support that adds the most value for the customer.
  • Customers reduce costs, delays, and resource issues. 
  • Customers can design streamlined supply chain apps and configurations to meet their unique, specific needs.

The growth of low-code platforms is revolutionary. It gives customers much greater insight and control of the software they use and promotes accessibility and accuracy throughout the supply chain. In particular:

  • Enhance agility to quickly react to changes in the business environment.
  • Allows for changes in consumer attitudes, purchasing patterns, and product assortment.
  • Adapt to new laws, compliance, and regulations quickly.


Considerations for Low-Code Application Development

All of this accessibility and control means you will need to introduce strong project management and good team and stakeholder communications. This will help you avoid:

  • Designing applications without consultation with stakeholders or considering how they will impact other areas.
  • Teams developing their own applications independently, without reference to company strategy or how their applications fit into the bigger picture.
  • Releasing incomplete applications or releasing early without proper change control or testing. 

All of these areas can be enhanced through good development processes and governance.


Topo Lets You Create Supply Chain Apps in Various Ways

The world of business is constantly changing and brings complex problems to supply chains. Fast-changing laws and regulations, evolving consumer behavior, fluctuating economic conditions, geopolitical tensions and the COVID-19 pandemic all have an impact. To be agile, efficient and profitable, companies need to overcome such problems quickly—in our experience, most enterprise and supply chain software in the market cannot keep up with these complex demands. 

That’s why we designed Topo as a low-code platform that lets businesses adapt to changes quickly and with minimal costs. Topo empowers organisations with complete control over their data and insights, an intuitive way to navigate complex problems, and adaptability that provides a competitive advantage. 

Our complete low-code platform lets you develop however you want:

  • Design and build your own apps and interfaces entirely in-house.
  • Have us develop low-code applications for you.
  • Start off the implementation with our support and take over at your own pace.

Whether in-house or with our support, implementation is way faster and easier with Topo’s low-code environment. Compared to slow and cumbersome enterprise software, Topo’s low-code platform is truly agile and user-friendly. Topo already provides a huge amount of in-built functionality, out of the box. You decide whether you want to build digital tools for your supply chain yourself, start with our support, or let us do all the work for you. 


How Topo’s Low-Code Supply Chain App Builder Can Help

Topo is unique in providing the only reliable, low-code app builder platform for the supply chain industry. Our low-code platform makes it easy for customers to customize and create their own apps, interfaces, integrations, and configurations across the following areas:

  • Buying and sourcing—digitizing the sourcing, tendering, and order management processes.
  • Product development—tools to manage the entire product development process, from product ideation and tech packs to sample management, tracking, and testing.
  • Production monitoring and follow-up—cover the entire production process from applying critical path methods to production monitoring and implementing corrective actions.
  • Quality management—conduct inspections throughout the supply chain and manage customer claims.
  • Sustainability and compliance—tools for packaging management, social, labor, safety, and environmental audits, chemical management, lab testing, supply chain traceability, corrective action planning, and carbon emissions tracking.


Topo’s App Builder helps you to create customized interfaces and workflows for your supply chain processes. You can easily access and use a huge variety of features and create custom applications that match your business needs.


Features of Topo’s Low-Code Supply Chain Platform

Topo is a complete low-code solution that provides you with all the features and functionality that you need to adapt to the unique requirements of your supply chain. You can easily build apps, workflows, dashboards, reports, and more with no coding.


Designed for Flexibility

You can design, build, and customize every tool, form, or report to your exact specifications. That includes easily incorporating changes and lessons learned into your apps at any time, without needing to rely on external development or support teams.


Changeable Layouts and User Interfaces

You’re not restricted to any preset UI, layout, or workflow. You can customize the user experience based on user interviews, collaborations with other stakeholders, best practices, and reviews.


Access to Custom Fields

You can drag and drop a wide variety of fields and functionality, including customizing, validating, and calculating fields for your needs.


Logic and Formulas

Set custom logic and formulas on fields and objects to facilitate conditional formatting and further workflow management. 


Conditional Fields and Styles

Fields and objects can be formatted and dynamically altered based on set logic and formulas. For example, Topo can automatically calculate the result for an activity based on entered data and the result field can be formatted according to the different outcomes.


Custom Workflows & Notifications

Users can configure in-app and email notifications, alerts, and reminders on tasks based on set inputs and logic. Actions and processes can be automatically triggered based on custom workflows. You can also automate data transfers and exchanges with other systems.


Apply Rights and Permissions to Users

You can easily set permissions for all users for many aspects of your apps and limit development, use, or functionality to specific users and roles.


Deep Insights and Business Intelligence

Every field in the Topo platform, including your own applications, can be linked to dashboards, reports, and analytics. This includes our “Insights” functionality that lets you analyze your data and make timely and accurate business decisions.


Work from Libraries and Templates

Our supply chain experience and customer insight mean we’ve already developed many ready-to-go templates and libraries for your own use cases. You can implement our extensive library assets as is, or use them as a starting point for customizing your own apps.


Built on Self-Service

Our easy-to-use interface means you can create powerful applications completely in-house. This gives you a great deal of agility and speed to create, test, iterate, and release apps. 


Usable by Anyone

You don’t need to be a developer or engineer to take advantage of Topo’s apps. The days of deploying large development teams and dozens of consultants are long gone. All it takes is a consistent and logical approach, and the ability to interpret business processes into an application.


Specialist Support for Supply Chain Niches

Every supply chain is different, so the Topo app builder gives you powerful control over industry-specific fields. For example, measurement fields for clothing and apparel or chemical tables for lab testing.


The Simplicity or Complexity You Need

You decide on what you need your apps to do. From simple information gathering apps to complex design structures, the app builder can handle it.


Additional Features

Topo provides extra functionality across multiple areas:

  • Multilingual language configuration
  • GPS location and tracking
  • Attachment of photos and videos
  • Creating standard app builder fields like tables, lists, radio buttons, checkboxes, and similar. 


Make Supply Chain Management Easy

The introduction of low-code platforms means you have a choice to make. Do you rely on the slow, involved process of working with a traditional enterprise vendor, or do you make supply chain management faster, more agile, and cost effective? We think the answer is clear.

Talk to us today about how Topo can transform your supply chain, boost your business, and give you a competitive edge.

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