Citizen Development - IT Artistry
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Putting the power of IT into the hands of business users or non-IT personnel is the essence of citizen development (leveraging no-code platforms to make digital transformation happen). Imagine this – with just a few weeks of no-code training, a novice from any area of a business can build priority-specific applications, or in other words, a non-IT professional can become a DIY developer, popularly referred to as a citizen developer.

There is a lot of unmet demand in today’s organizations that central IT solution teams cannot meet. When citizen developers are provided with no-code tools, they can create solutions ten times faster than they could if they relied solely on programming. They solve problems as they arise, developing applications that are unlikely to make it onto IT’s radar. Developers and architects can concentrate on the more complex solutions that truly add value to the company. It translates into increased overall productivity (98% less time spent creating operational dashboards) and improved business outcomes.

Process of Putting IT Power in the hands of Business Users

It certainly involves a mindset shift in your IT team’s application development. As most organizations do today, you need to change how you perceive compliance and governance, addressing both at the platform level rather than at the application level.

Guardrails are important. All applications require design, data integrity, analytics, security, and regulatory compliance safeguards, and the ecosystem surrounding low-code and no-code platforms is crowded. As a result, it’s critical to define a set of use cases for what should be on each of the organization’s platforms.

It is also essential to create fusion teams and demarcate roles and responsibilities of not just citizen developers but also technical people.

Categorization of roles and responsibilities

Strategic Roles

Someone from the top leadership (CEO or CIO) is suitable for this role. If the situation demands it, they can also work as a collaborator or even an icebreaker between business users and the IT department.  

Tactical Roles 

Indeed, no-code platforms don’t require extensive coding skills. Still, to support citizen developers and ensure that no-code development is taking place in the right direction knowledge regarding the business processes and their complexities is needed. Especially for programmers who want to monitor and maintain applications/tools built by citizen developers. Your technical staff should understand the nitty-gritty no-code applications to carry out integrations with third-party solutions successfully. 

No-code masters or citizen development mentors can provide all such guidance to programmers and citizen developers. They aren’t professional programmers but understand the ins and outs of no-code platforms and can train citizen developers or assist them during API integrations and other complex tasks. 

Operational Roles

To some extent, operational roles and responsibilities are largely held by citizen developers and also by no-code masters. Depending on your organization’s functioning (centralized or decentralized), you may put citizen developers in one or more departments or business units.

When defining the scope of work for citizen developers, you will need to decide whether you will adopt the no-code approach to build departmental workflow apps or customer-facing apps. The primary role of citizen developers (business users) is not to build applications, and they are required to juggle between multiple roles therefore, it’s essential to designate the minimum and the maximum number of citizen development hours.

Also read: Top 8 Tips for Managing No-Code Low-Code Citizen Development

Identify business users who can become citizen developers 

Citizen developers are business users who are or were involved in tedious manual processes. So an ideal candidate for citizen development is someone who has hands-on experience in dealing with paper-based processes and understands the related pain points. 

Although no technical background is required to use no-code platforms, users need to have sound business logic to build applications visually. Therefore, this can be the second consideration when choosing your citizen developer. 

An ideal candidate should also have a collaborative mindset because citizen development is not a “one-man show” and is carried out through a governance model. 

Train Citizen Developer

Today’s no-code platforms are more user-friendly than their predecessors, but they are also more technologically advanced. They make application development much easier for business users, but non-programmers are still required to go through a significant learning curve to master no-code platforms. IT department’s role is to design and execute comprehensive training programs for citizen developers and do so continuously. 

Programming and application development basics 

To effectively collaborate with IT, you need a no-code platform and a common language to communicate. Learning the basics of a programming language can make it a lot easier for citizen developers to communicate with IT teams. Yes, they don’t need to learn to code, but it’s crucial for them to understand the entire software development life cycle and agile methodologies, prototyping, wireframing, and design thinking. They should understand how programming logic works and correlate that with their business logic.  

For example, citizen developers must understand how entity relationships or class diagrams work and how data comes together. 

According to McKinsey & Company, teams that are cross-functional, product-focused, and understand design thinking boosts overall performance and foster innovation. 

Citizen developers should also be briefed on relevant data lists and connected systems. It’s ideal for them to acquire knowledge before gaining access to a no-code platform. 

You can ensure cross-functional learning opportunities for citizens developers in the form of workshops, hackathons, and community events. 

Also read: 11 Questions you must Answer before implementing Citizen Development


A major paradigm shift is happening with the rise of citizen developers – the democratization of software development. This might look scary due to realities like shadow IT, but having a clear set of IT governance guidelines, IT and business collaboration, roles, and responsibilities can make citizen development a successful venture.

● Top leaders should see citizen developers as creative problem-solvers who use both business and programming logic to build applications in a quick span – a one-of-a-kind workforce. 

● They should articulate their understanding and vision to citizen developers across the organization. 

● They should bring an executive sponsor who can back the citizen development initiative and demonstrate its benefits to key stakeholders. 

● They must set objectives and identify KPIs before you start to have clear set goals to work towards. 

As more and more organizations adopt a hybrid workforce model (with on-premise IT teams), it’s essential to push non-technical employees towards citizen development and not overwhelm remote-based IT teams with simple troubleshooting. Cutting-edge No-code platforms are democratizing and pacing up innovation – letting business analysts, product designers, and marketers become citizen developers.

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