Citizen development has suddenly become a common term with many individuals and companies throwing it around in casual speech. This has led to a fair amount of confusion and misconception. In fact, in many instances shadow IT and citizen development are being superimposed. Before we speak about how to implement and govern citizen development, thus, we would like to clear the air.
And, who is a citizen developer?
When a non-developer builds apps, he is referred to as a citizen developer and the process is called citizen development. But, doesn’t shadow IT means the same? Well, there’s a crucial difference. Shadow IT happens without the knowledge or consent of the IT department. A citizen developer, on the other hand, uses tools that the IT department recommends.
The pressure on IT is immense today. Never before were they stressed to such an extent to churn quick, reliable, and integrated applications. And, the work does not stop even after development. Users need IT support for updates and maintenance. This is why the role of citizen developers has become important. They use simple no-code platforms to develop apps that are flexible and easy to use. Any updates or edits are also done without the requirement of IT expertise.
While citizen development feels like a brilliant idea, there are risks involved. The biggest risk is that it may create shadow IT, vulnerability, unsupported software, and lack of control without proper governance. This is why the guidelines need to be enforced in every organization that has embraced citizen development.
Implementation can begin with the following check points –
Let’s talk about this with a few instances, which are quite common in the workplace today.
Citizen development can be implemented, for example, in circumstances where homegrown applications are not viable. Most organizations need quick answers for problems such as crisis response. Managing new requests, tracking remote workers, ensuring all assets are secure, etc. is time-consuming. For these strategic solutions, the dependency is usually on the IT department and SaaS solutions. This directly translates to risks and costs. Time is another factor. If an organization starts building its own applications to tackle this problem, it needs a dedicated IT team for the same. That is also quite difficult and expensive.
This is why, during difficult times, different departments are left to fend for themselves, depending on manual processes and spreadsheets to get things done. Implementing citizen development will take this pain away and empower the workforce to take matters into their own hands responsibly. Citizen development using a no-code/low-code platform helps companies work faster and smartly. At this point, IT only needs to provide the required resources. The workforce takes care of the rest. Along with ensuring that there are fewer bottlenecks, the citizen development culture empowers the workforce and improves their efficiency. They also feel valued and bring innovation to the table. These are the pillars that organizations thrive on.
Also read: The Pros and Cons of Citizen Development
We have to face the harsh truth – without governance, citizen development will get messy. Introducing a no-code platform without rules in place will lead to additional burden instead of easing the existing burden. However, if traditional governance rules are applied, it will reduce the value of these platforms and the process itself. The need here is to develop new governance strategies specific to no-code and low-code platforms.
Here are 5 key points to remember while doing so – who, how, which, when, and where
Answering these questions with as much detail as possible will clarify roles and create responsibility. The risk of shadow IT and vulnerability of security will also be minimized.
IMPORTANT – While implementing policies is required, they cannot be stringent. For them to work in a citizen development culture, policies must be dynamic so that the governance evolves with the need.
Now that everything is in place, let us shift our attention to the citizen developers themselves. We must ensure that they are comfortable and are trained appropriately. Developers need to have a deeper knowledge of agile environments, information security, innovation programs, etc. to be able to develop applications accordingly. This is why training should be a part of the governance. To begin with, organizations can do the following:
Citizen development drives digital transformation and helps the entire organization come together as one unit. Citizen developers directly get involved in the development process and feel empowered because they are now decision-makers. This also makes them feel valued. Organizations can make the most out of this thoroughly as they govern citizen development, which eliminates risks and bottlenecks from the system.
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