citizen developer vs professional developer
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The question of a citizen developer vs. professional developer arises due to the current IT backlog.

There are numerous IT solution requests that have not been able to be built as the conundrum of IT is that it needs to not only create applications but also maintain and upgrade the ones they have already created and with the fast pace at which the business environment functions, IT cannot possibly do it all, all alone.

Now, according to a recent Gartner report, 61% of companies already have or are planning to have initiatives for citizen development.

According to a recent Gartner report, 61% of companies already have or are planning to have initiatives for citizen development.

Lets learn more about this, shall we?

Shadow IT

Shadow IT is a real phenomenon wherein IT systems, applications, softwares and devices are utilised without approval. Ever since cloud has become popular, shadow IT has increased exponentially.

Shadow IT can be a good thing and a bad thing for an organization.

  • On one hand, it improves the productivity of employees and acts as a driving force of innovation.
  • On the other hand, it also introduces a great deal of high security risks through leaking data, potential violations of compliance etc.

Citizen development

So, what is citizen development exactly?

Basically, corporate IT sanctions developments and runtime environments that a user can utilise to create new applications for the business that others can consume.

According to Gartner, citizen developer vs. professional developer sees a plus point when previously, “end-user application development has typically been limited to single-user or workgroup solutions built with tools like Microsoft Excel and Access. However, today, end users can build departmental, enterprise, and even public applications using shared services, fourth-generation language (4GL)-style development platforms, and cloud computing services.”

According to Gartner, citizen developer vs. professional developer sees a plus point when previously, “end-user application development has typically been limited to single-user or workgroup solutions built with tools like Microsoft Excel and Access.

Also read: 5 Reasons to Encourage Citizen Development at Work

Professional development

Furthering the exploration of the concept of citizen developer vs. professional developer, a professional developer, as the name suggests, is a developer who has the ability and expertise to create, maintain as well as upgrade software created for commercial purposes through writing lines of code.

Who is a citizen developer?

A citizen developer is an individual who learns a visual interface drag-and-drop system in order to connect components in a meaningful order to create an application without writing any code.

In the question of citizen developer vs. professional developer, the citizen developer makes use of low-code no-code platforms to be able to create applications.

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

Benefits of low-code no-code platforms

  1. Costs of operations are lowered in the long run after the initial investment and occasional maintenance expenses.
  2. Time taken to complete tasks is saved with these platforms which enable employees to spend their time in other areas furthering the organization’s operations and aiding its growth.
  3. The operational efficiency of the company is increased due to higher productivity, greater agility, and speed for the organizations as a whole.

Citizen development is usually a concept explored by companies with business lines that have no coding experience. The citizen developer acts as the problem solver by providing this efficiency in lesser time and costs.

There has been an entire movement in favour of citizen developer vs. professional developer.

traditional coding vs low-code vs no-code

Also read: Top 10 Benefits of No-Code App Development

Citizen developer movement

People were highly dependent on IT for better functionality or working. The employees expected IT to consistently create applications and keep their functioning smooth along with new features, upgrades, etc.

Putting such a heavy responsibility on one department is impossible for them to achieve the rapid changes seen in the business environment every day and the ever-changing needs of customers and employees.

This led to the citizen development movement whose life cycle has been explained below:

Citizen Development Movement Life Cycle

1. The shift from the traditional role of IT

IT was moved into a different role wherein their traditional role is converted into infrastructure building so that the relevant tools and data can be provided to the employees who then leverage those components to find solutions to their business’ particular issues.

2. Adopting low-code no-code programs

The crux of the movement is the leveraging of low-code no-code platforms to create easier solutions for companies. 80 percent of companies are moving to these platforms for application creation. This has become a trend and is booming because its usability encourages citizen developers to solve market issues with ease.

3. Explaining the process to employees

Any person who gains an understanding of these tools can work in the development of applications for the business and become a citizen developer. In the argument of citizen developer vs. professional developer, the ease is a big plus point in favour of citizen developers.

4. IT mans the fort

IT is still required in the citizen development movement as an over-viewer to ascertain the risky factors in integrations and permissions; without them, citizen developers cannot create, maintain or upgrade solutions.

Three possible dynamics could be followed by an organization:

  1. IT creates the applications and the company uses them for business practices.
  2. IT focuses on the critical creation and strategic aspects of the process while the citizen developer uses the components given to create business applications.
  3. IT and the citizen developer collaborate in building the application and IT oversees the working of the project.

While the movement for citizen development is going strong in the citizen developer vs. professional developer concept, there are various downsides to it as well.

Explore infographic: Professional Development vs Citizen Development

The pros and cons of citizen development

It is important to keep in mind that there are always two sides to a coin and like any other concept, this too has its benefits and its flaws.

Let’s explore its various pros and cons.

pros and cons of citizen development


1. Constantly growing need for applications

According to IDC, by 2023, more than 500 million applications are going to be developed. Companies require applications to sustain themselves and their revenue earnings. IT cannot fulfill this need alone due to resources being limited. citizen developers can help solve this.

2. Reduction of costs

The costs will be reduced as the organization will not need to employ professional developers with expertise in building these applications. In the question of citizen developers vs. professional developers, citizen developers have been seen to reduce costs over time and add more value to the company.

3. Create more skilled developers

There is a shortage of professional developers with in-depth knowledge in the market; this limited pool of developers puts pressure on IT. Citizen development creates a wider understanding of technical application building within the staff so as to aid the digital transformation of the business and further its growth and development.

4. Enables collaboration

There is a better internal department and external department collaboration which facilitates an improvement in the agility of the organization. This is because it allows the concept of citizen developer vs. professional developer to become citizen developers working with professional developers.

5. Enables speed

Speed is imperative to the functioning of an organization. A company’s fast pace can lead to the success of its operations.

Also read: Big vs. Fast Companies

Low-code no-code helps a business build applications faster using previously built templates.

6. Increases productivity

The organization’s productivity increases as it becomes more flexible with IT. Citizen development reduces the IT backlog and enables it to focus on more critical issues that are more complex to understand such as enterprise-wide applications, core system extensions, and legacy modernization.

7. Aids in monitoring shadow IT

Over the past 5 years, shadow IT has increased considerably. when it is left unsupervised, it can become a mess. citizen development can aid IT as a program that can be monitored with IT being given the control and visibility they require to govern the security and quality of the applications.


1. Technical knowledge

Citizen developers require a certain extent of technical knowledge, not all employees are tech-savvy. This can be a bottleneck in the smooth functioning of the organization.

2. Constant learning

Since technology in the business environment is moving at such a fast pace, in order to keep up with it, IT has to ensure that applications and programs for the consumption by internal and external stakeholders are accordingly updated and new ones are created. The employees will have to be consistently informed and trained with these softwares as and when they upgrade.

3. Added responsibility for management

For the new learnings to be conveyed to the employees, management will have to thoroughly understand the applications created and their consequent upgrades; additionally, lessons will have to be built by management about the platforms to relay the same learnings to the staff.


In the end, it is very evident that the pros outweigh the cons and in the question between citizen developer vs. professional developer, citizen development seems like the way to go for a better future of the company. The movement in its name is succeeding and will continue to innovate in the coming years.

The IT backlog and monitoring of shadow IT can be done with widespread citizen developers in an organization to reduce the load off of IT and further digital transformation. Low-code no-code platforms are very essential for citizen developers to be able to create applications.

Quixy is a no-code platform that companies can leverage for this use. Based on the benefits mentioned earlier, if you want to attempt to take the right step forward for your business, you can contact us for a free trial!

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