What are no-code platforms?
No-code technology is one of the fastest growing segments of the entire software industry today. In fact, there's a running joke that if you want to sell your business for lots of money, just claim it's a no-code platform and you'll have buyers knocking at your door tomorrow.
What is no-code technology? No-code technology is essentially a set of tools that allows the average user (i.e., someone without a technical background) to build their own custom workflows and automations.
There are now no-code tools to help build websites (such as Webflow), to help automate email outreach (such as Mailchimp), to build custom apps (such as Bubble) and to automate databases (such as Airtable).
We all know the feeling of buying a software platform and finding out the platform can't do what we want it to. When this happens, users often have to adjust their goals and ideal processes to serve what the software platform can accommodate.
What no-code platforms promise to do is to bring a high degree of control and configurability to non-technical users, so that they can architect experiences that cater to their specific use case.
Another important aspect of no-code platforms is the way that they can aggregate and sync data from multiple sources. A great no-code platform will allow you to automatically import data from other tools, and to even build workflow automations and triggers based on that 3rd party data.
For example, within Mailchimp, not only can you automate the sending of marketing emails, but you can create rules that state "If user X clicks on button Y, then we will create a new client in Salesforce and assign sales rep Z to reach out to that person."
How will no-code platforms change HR operations?
Why no-code technology is so exciting and relevant for HR professionals is because of just how manual, process-driven and task-oriented much of the HR admin experience can be.
Take onboarding for instance, the average onboarding experience is a series of manual checklists that need to completed by various stakeholders:
- I-9 and W-4 documents need to be sent, filled out and filed
- Facilities teams need to order new computers, pre-populate apps and assign badges
- Managers need to reach out to their new employee, assign an onboarding buddy and send training materials
Company's currently manage some of these processes in their HRIS, but even the best HRIS can't account for all of the different nuances that go into an organization's ideal onboarding workflow. And this leads companies to start building their own checklists somewhere in a spreadsheet or shared drive.
And this is just an example of the processes that going into onboarding a new employee. Equally complex processes are needed to gather accurate time data from employees, to complete a performance review process and to offboard employees.
Much of the HR experience is driven by processes, tasks and data validation. These manual steps aren't anyone's favorite parts of the job, but they are necessary to keep people paid and keep companies compliant.
And the need to organize processes and record data is why there is such a massive need for HRIS platforms that can serve as a system of record and automate steps.
However, most HRIS systems have to be built for the general user. They aren't built for your specific business and your specific workflow need. And the only ones that are built with that level of complexity (Workday, Oracle, SAP) are tremendously expensive and require highly trained consultants to optimize.
This is why no-code platforms offer so much promise for HR operations. Mid-sized companies can start to have the power and automations of Workday at a fraction of the cost, using the right no-code technologies.
Another potential benefit of the no-code revolution is that companies may no longer need to pick a side in the age old battle of all-in-one system versus best-in-class. By connecting data from disparate systems, companies will no longer have to worry about data being siloed when pursuing a quality point solution.
Where are we seeing no-code platforms in HR?
The no-code revolution is coming to HR Software. You may not be able to see it, but in 2-3 years it will be in every sales pitch and every HRIS platform will either offer no-code solutions, or claim that they do.
The best example of no-code technology today is probably found with Rippling. Rippling gives users the ability to build automated custom workflows to streamline their onboarding, offboarding, leave request and review processes. Rippling also provides 'templates' which are popular workflows that other customers are already using. Additionally, starting in 2022, Rippling is able to automate actions based on data from other systems. So if a salesperson wins a new client in Salesforce, you can automatically assign a congratulation and a bonus payment to that employee.
Another company that is leading the way in no-code HR tech is Sora. Unlike Rippling, Sora is not an HRIS or Payroll tool. Instead it is a software layer that can sit above all of your HR tools. Sora promises to bring all of your data from multiple HR tools into one system, so that you can start to create cross-application workflows and automations. When an employee is marked as 'hired' in Greenhouse, Sora can automatically create a new employee file in UKG and tell the system to kick off employee onboarding.
Other companies that will be players in the no-code world include ADP, whose new platform, ADP Next Gen, is built on no-code principles and Paylocity, who just recently acquired a no-code start-up out of Austin, TX.