It was a busy Thursday (3 June 2021) at 5pm and while I was still getting the hang of my new job at PRODT and understanding the concept of No Code, my phone rang and a voice said, "Manas, there is an emergency project for one of the largest hospital chains in India. This is for a social cause but the project needs to be delivered in 3 days! It's a 3 step workflow, so are you game for the challenge?"
As a first reaction, I was completely blank. Did I really hear 3 days? We are almost at the end of the day on a Thursday and have one working day left! How is this going to happen! In the back of my mind, my experience of delivering applications using code based platforms was pushing me to say "no." A project of any size requires a proper planning, requirements and understanding before we commit to anything. Nevertheless I said "OK" - "Let’s understand what needs to be done here."
Within the next hour, an 8 member squad consisting of the hospital's application and infrastructure team and PRODT, teamed up to discuss the requirements. A mockup application created by the hospital’s application team was shown as the baseline requirement.
The requirements given were:
An inventory manager for COVID vaccinations that stores inventory and rates.
Create campaigns where the inventory gets allocated and a unique URL for distribution is generated for each campaign.
Integration with a payment gateway and API integrations with the hospitals HIS (hospital information system)
Customer booking workflow to choose the vaccines, book a timeslot and confirm the order.
Another challenge given was IP tunneling to connect with the hospital's HIS system hosted on a private cloud. Luckily, we had our very own battle tested DevOps team by our side.
After the presentation, a few quick decisions were made by the technical architect and head of DevOps after which we sent a message saying "We are On!" For the next 3 days, 2 members from the application team and a DevOps engineer jumped into action. There were about 15 individual pages to be created and integrated for an end to end workflow. My past experiences from code based deliveries kept hinting me to say - how is this going to happen?
Meanwhile, the DevOps team raised up a server on Azure and started setting up the IP tunnel. The IP tunneling was a complex job and had to comply with all restrictions on the hospital's private cloud policies. It was a Sunday evening and with some support from the hospital’s infrastructure team, the DevOps part of the job was done.
The application team was not far behind, they pushed themselves hard and by Monday afternoon the entire workflow (as shown in the presentation) was ready. My thoughts went from how will this happen to how did it happen! I had never seen an enterprise grade application built that fast and ‘NoCode’ was a new revelation to me!
We published the application to the hospital for acceptance testing and then a second round of efforts started which included - testing of boundary conditions, some issues with the payment gateway integration and a plethora of change requests. We hit a roadblock with the payment gateway issues, however we got top notch support from the NoCode platform’s engineering team who nosedived into this and helped us resolve the issue.
Now when I reflect upon this delivery with the past deliveries of my other projects, it seems that NoCode could be the next gold standard in application development.
These platforms are able to fulfill almost all requirements that can be done using a traditional code.
They offer integration capabilities at par with code based platforms.
They are great for people like me who understand the business process but don't know how to write complex scripts using coding languages.
They save you a lot of time and cost. On this project we deployed only 2 resources (probably due to the time constraint). If we had more time, we could have delivered with one resource itself.
You don’t need a separate UI or a backend team as these platforms offer both front and backend development through simple drag drop options.
There are no syntax errors, and no chances of the script going wrong.
These platforms comply with the global data security policies (like GDPR) and other industry acceptable security standards and practices.
Managing a change is sometimes as quick as redirecting the connections from one workflow to another.
Single click deployment capabilities. All you need to do is push a button to get your application from development to environment to production.
Today as I write this blog, I see 25000 successful transactions on the vaccination drive application we have built and after reflecting on the delivery, I now understand how this has happened!