I am one of the 64% of developers who have yet to adopt a low-code development platform. My friends at other companies have implemented one of these platforms and report great results — much faster software delivery and happy business colleagues. We should also adopt, but my boss will ask a question I can’t answer: “In the long run, how will costs for the platform behave?” Vendor websites aren’t exactly a help; most pricing pages are either incomplete, opaque, or both.

Low-Code Pricing Is Confusing

In “The Forrester Wave™: Low-Code Development Platforms For AD&D Professionals, Q1 2019,” not a single vendor received top marks for its pricing model. The vendors in this space have opted for opaque pricing. To understand how pricing models will drive cost, most vendors effectively require prospects to call a sales representative. Many prospects we speak with want to do their own research before having a sales conversation; they can’t.

Pricing models are also complex, making it difficult to compare vendors. Some vendors charge fees for each named user, others for platform instances, and others for application assets like databases, integration links, or workflows. Layer in pricing for individual functions and types of runtimes (sandbox vs. production), and it’s no wonder customers and prospects feel disempowered — and hesitate to adopt as a result. When 64% of developers don’t have a tool implemented, uncertainty about pricing is a barrier to adoption.

It’s Time For Low-Code Vendors To Change

We acknowledge that development-platform pricing is difficult, made more so as vendors add useful features. We also credit the low-code platform vendors that offer free access to their platforms to enable initial learning. But complex and opaque pricing doesn’t serve the interests of prospects. We advocate for two vendor changes:

  1. Make pricing and cost information fully transparent.
  2. Create simple calculators representing common use cases.

These steps will help prospects build “ballpark” business cases that support adoption. It will also allow users to do a better job comparing one platform to another, helping them focus in on the capabilities that matter most to them and make choices that serve them well for years.