Citizen Development

A lot is being talked about how organizations must encourage citizen development. Data goes to show that each year there is an increase in the percentage of citizen developers. These are people who don’t have a tech background and are building new applications and programs faster than ever. While this may seem like its a lot concerning the jobs of developers, there is nothing to really worry about.

If you are new to the term Citizen Developers, it broadly refers to people who are essentially not developers but can develop applications, usually with the help of simple visual interfaces that allow them to create what they want to see without having to learn a programming language. These are often solutions that need some solving within a department or with customers and would take more time to be processed by the IT department.

Today, it is important to be able to differentiate between what hard-core developers can achieve from their programs versus what citizen developers can do to find more fast-tracked solutions. From creating custom solutions for specific customers to creating collaborations between IT and different teams, citizen development has come a long way since its inception. Further, while we don’t have the exact numbers in terms of how much more efficient citizen development makes a business, it has proven to keep checklists moving and we will be talking about these sorts of benefits here.

Understanding the Average Citizen Developer

The average citizen developer is looking to bridge the gap between the services they receive from the IT experts and the need of the consumers. These are people looking to find fast solutions to problems they and their consumers are facing. These business users are looking for solutions and to take the burden off of the existing system. While citizen development is relatively unregulated, it can be harvested to truly accelerate business success.

Also read: The rise of the Citizen Developer and why should every business care?

Here are some reasons why organizations must encourage citizen development to create future-proof business practices.

1. The Demand for Applications is Higher than Supply

We live in a world geared towards convenience. The right way to do things is the most convenient, and what is more convenient custom made to cater to specific needs. That is the only way to combat the ‘I want it now’ attitude.

Each and every business is working towards transforming their business, making most services more digital rather than analog and upgrading to build on the efficiency of their operations. This directly translated into a need for software that will help them streamline they’re existing processes. It is a lot of software, the existing IT team is not equipped to provide.

This leaves businesses with a few choices. Either, overburden the IT department and find a linger timeline for the digitization processes or to make the switch to low-code and no-code platforms. Given the right aptitude, this is where citizen developers step in. Here IT teams can serve as an instructional and advisory body for faster growth.

2. The Needs of a Team are Best Understood by the Team Itself

Having a different group of people create software for a particular team will always lead to some back and forth. No group of people will be able to understand the needs of a team better than the team itself.

Often a lot of time is wasted in the back and forth between what a group wants and what is being delivered to them. This is a waste of time as the only way to clearly create business automation understanding is to be a part of the process itself. Citizen development in that sense is empowering the experts. It means leaving the menu open food the clients to chose from, the cooking to the line chefs but the supervision to the head chef.

Citizen Development illustration

Effective programs are created understanding the usage that will be derived from them, the kinds of clients they serve, and the data that drives them. This is also the reason people tend to lean towards experts over shared services personnel. This enables both IT and departments themselves to work on critical projects at the required speeds.

3. The IT Department is Generally Understaffed

It is clear and should remain clear that citizen developers are not IT professionals, but to drive citizen development, too many information technology experts are not the key to success.

For the IT department to tackle the needs of the entire organization a much larger amount of funds and resources would need to be dedicated to them. Imagine if word processing and data processing was not automated and outsourced in the early 2000’s how far behind organizations would have been, similarly, that is what encouraging citizen development can do for your business today. It is an easy mechanism to bridge the gap between departments and create a better working ethos.

IT department and Citizen Developers

Additionally, it is always the case that clients want applications that can solve all their problems and they want them now. In most cases, this is on the increase as they see application growth around them. Traditional IT development does not have the capability to keep up with such demands, especially at the quality required.

4. Streamlining the Growth of New Applications to Match Market Pace

Tech disruption needs to be seen as a constant for any business. Tech growth is faster than ever, and the same can be said about adoption.

While it may be impossible for businesses to keep up with traditional software, and legacy systems it is important to find new ways to do so. Citizen development has not only streamlined the growth of these tech disruptions but also found adequate solutions for it.

Enabling personnel outside of the tech departments to be in charge of their own tech functionality has made them more agile and primed for growth. Citizen developer trends in businesses have been proven to readiness for growth and expansion.

5. Low/No-Code Solutions are Cheaper to Maintain

The reality of the situation is that while traditional development of applications leads to optimal outcomes, it is both time consuming and not monetarily efficient.

Custom-built programs are unique and can not be compared to those from the citizen developer community, but they must be perceived in the context of their usage. This means to say that you cannot compare a DIY cheese kit with cheesemakers from Italy, but it depends on what you are trying to achieve. Citizen developers are working to create applications on a basic level with limited resources for a very specific purpose.

Solutions are cheaper to maintain

The platforms that support such kind of development are usually straight forward in their purpose and easier to maintain than a plethora of separate applications that all have different base codes. This means by upgrading the no-code or low-code platforms that citizen developers are using to create their applications gives them the ability to update and maintain them as well. Further, mission-critical applications can be separated from the rest, so that they can be given more support than others that do not require it.

Also read: Everything you should know about no-code development

Is There No Catch?

Many concerns are being raised concerning the drive-in digital transformation that is being caused by citizen development and the potential IT nightmare it would become. However, there are many easy fixes to alleviate such concerns such as platform-based training and having people govern and oversee citizen development activities. Further, there also must be education geared towards increasing the longevity of these applications to not have to waste time and energy developing more in the future. The aim is to facilitate the creation of a substantial software network.

Excited to Try it Out?

These are just some of the benefits of cultivating a citizen development environment in your organization. We see it as the first step your business can take towards empowering those from your business who identify as problem-solvers who do not have the means or coding knowledge. We see citizen development becoming the backbone of organizations soon. We at Quixy have created a no-code BPM platform that will allow you and your business to achieve your business goals. This is an opportunity for you to change how your business is perceived and that the smaller requirements are never overlooked.

We recommend that you sign up with us for a free trial to gain some first-hand experience of the benefits of citizen development mentioned in this article alongside much much more. Transforming your future is only a few clicks away.

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