The Pitfalls of Low-Code/No-Code Solutions

Lessons from Kudu's Journey with Odoo

In a recent episode of the Startup Hustle podcast, I had the pleasure of interviewing Nick Farrish, the president and founder of Kudu Solutions.

Nick shared his company's journey of trying to build software using low-code and open-source solutions, specifically Odoo, before ultimately deciding to build their own custom software. This blog post will explore the key lessons learned from Kudu's experience and the pitfalls they encountered along the way.

The Allure of Low-Code/No-Code Solutions

Low-code and no-code solutions have gained popularity in recent years, promising to make software development more accessible and efficient. As Nick mentioned, "Low-code and no-code solutions have gained popularity in recent years, promising to make software development more accessible and efficient."

These platforms offer a visually intuitive interface that allows users to create applications without extensive coding knowledge. The idea is that businesses can quickly develop and deploy software solutions without relying on a team of experienced developers.

However, as Kudu discovered, these solutions come with their own set of challenges. While they may be suitable for simple applications or prototypes, low-code and no-code platforms often fall short when it comes to building complex, scalable software that meets the unique needs of a growing business.

Customization Challenges

One of the main issues Kudu faced with Odoo was the difficulty in customizing the platform to fit their specific business needs. Nick explained, "We kept having these workarounds of like well Odoo works this way and Odoo works. Well, we don't care how Odoo works, we want it to work our way." Customizing low-code platforms can often be more challenging than anticipated, leading to compromises in functionality.

Low-code and no-code solutions often provide a set of pre-built modules and templates that can be configured to a certain extent. However, when a business has specific requirements that deviate from the standard functionality, customizing these platforms can be a complex and time-consuming process. In some cases, the desired customizations may not even be possible due to the limitations of the platform.

Kudu found themselves constantly trying to find workarounds and compromises to make Odoo fit their needs. This led to frustration and wasted time as they struggled to adapt the platform to their unique business processes. The lack of flexibility and control over the software ultimately hindered their ability to optimize their workflows and scale their operations.

Scalability Issues

As Kudu's business grew, they encountered scalability problems with Odoo. Nick shared, "We saw a lot of issues with the volume of data one of our customers was putting into the system and not being able to correct that issue." Low-code solutions may struggle to handle large volumes of data or complex workflows, limiting their ability to scale with a growing business.

Scalability is a critical factor to consider when choosing a software solution. As a business expands, its software needs to be able to handle increasing amounts of data, users, and transactions. Low-code and no-code platforms often have limitations in terms of performance and scalability, which can lead to slow response times, system crashes, and data loss.

Kudu experienced these issues firsthand as their customer base grew and the amount of data in their system increased. They found that Odoo struggled to cope with the increased load, resulting in poor performance and difficulties in managing the data effectively. This not only impacted their operations but also their ability to provide a seamless experience for their customers.

The Hidden Costs of Open Source

Many businesses are drawn to open-source solutions like Odoo due to the perception that they are free. However, as Kudu discovered, there are often hidden costs associated with using these platforms. Nick revealed, "We were running the enterprise so to get all the functionality we needed. We actually had to pay for the app."

While open-source software may be free to use in its basic form, many platforms offer enterprise editions or additional features that come at a cost. These costs can include licensing fees, support contracts, and the need for specialized hosting or infrastructure. Additionally, integrating open-source solutions with other systems or customizing them to fit specific requirements often requires the assistance of experienced developers, which can add to the overall expenses.

Kudu realized that the "free" aspect of Odoo was limited and that they needed to invest in the enterprise edition to access the functionality they required. This added an unexpected financial burden to their software development process. Moreover, they had to factor in the costs of hosting, support, and integration, which further increased the total cost of ownership.

It's crucial for businesses to carefully evaluate the true costs associated with open-source solutions before making a commitment. While the initial acquisition cost may be low or even zero, the long-term expenses can accumulate, especially when considering the need for customization, integration, and support.

Knowing When to Build Custom Software

After struggling with Odoo for several years, Kudu reached a point where they realized it was time to build their own custom software. Nick shared, "We sat down with everyone and said hey look, we can either spend millions to rebuild Odoo, or for the equivalent price, we probably can just rebuild our whole system, own our own code, and our roadmap be what we needed to be."

This decision point is crucial for businesses that have outgrown the capabilities of low-code or open-source solutions. When the limitations and costs of these platforms start to outweigh the benefits, it may be time to consider building custom software.

Custom software development allows businesses to have complete control over their software roadmap and tailor the solution to their exact requirements. It eliminates the need for workarounds and compromises, enabling businesses to optimize their processes and scale efficiently. Additionally, owning the codebase provides flexibility for future enhancements and integrations.

However, custom software development comes with its own set of challenges. It requires a significant investment in terms of time, resources, and expertise. Businesses need to have a clear understanding of their requirements and be prepared to manage the development process effectively.

Kudu's decision to build custom software was based on a careful evaluation of their needs and the long-term benefits. They realized that the cost of rebuilding Odoo to fit their requirements would be comparable to building their own solution from scratch. By opting for custom development, they gained full control over their software and could align it with their business goals.


Kudu's journey with Odoo highlights the potential pitfalls of relying on low-code and open-source solutions for critical business software. While these solutions can be attractive due to their perceived ease of use and lower initial costs, they often come with hidden expenses, customization challenges, and scalability limitations.

As Nick wisely stated, "If you're going to decide to do software in any capacity, make sure that you understand the processes and what you're trying to achieve before going after it." Businesses must carefully evaluate their specific needs, consider the long-term implications, and weigh the trade-offs before choosing a software solution.

Low-code and no-code platforms can be suitable for simple applications or prototypes, but they may not be the best fit for complex, mission-critical software. Open-source solutions, while initially appealing due to their low cost, often come with hidden expenses and limitations that can hinder growth and scalability.

When businesses reach a point where their software requirements outpace the capabilities of low-code or open-source solutions, it may be time to consider custom software development. While it requires a significant investment, building custom software allows businesses to have full control over their technology stack, align it with their unique processes, and scale efficiently.

Kudu's experience serves as a valuable lesson for other businesses considering their software options. By carefully evaluating their needs, understanding the limitations of low-code and open-source platforms, and being prepared to invest in custom development when necessary, businesses can make informed decisions that support their long-term growth and success.


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