Citizen Development

Empower your business users to solve problems by building applications with No-Code

Citizen Development

What is Citizen Development?

Citizen development is a practice where employees with very little or no coding experience are encouraged to build applications that they need using no-code and low-code platforms.

These citizen developers can help boost productivity and efficiency within their teams while improving their own technical skills! Often these applications are built on IT-sanctioned platforms which resolve the issue of shadow IT as well.

Citizen development can allow your subject matter experts to take control of technology and create the apps that they need. Since they know their field of work best, they can act on unique insights and build tools that can make a difference. Not only can this form of development help bridge the gap created by a shortage of skilled developers, but it can also help accelerate digital transformation and growth in the company!

Frequently asked questions about Citizen Development

Citizen development is a method of empowering your non-technical employees to build, deploy and improve upon applications that can help them. Using an application development platform, you can give your subject matter experts a secure platform that can be sanctioned by your IT department.

Any employee at your company who is interested in developing an application can become a citizen developer. Your subject matter experts can take advantage of this and build applications using their extensive knowledge about the issues faced in their subject.

who are citizen developers

A professional developer has been trained on how to create, maintain, deploy and upgrade applications for use throughout the organization using code. This individual knows how to code and thus can manually hand-code application and tools.

A citizen developer is an individual who has learnt how to create applications on a drag-and-drop visual interface by connecting components. Basically, citizen developers can put together coded components to create an application that can serve their specific purpose without writing a single line of code. Read all the differences and similarities. 

Shadow IT is the phenomenon of IT systems, applications, devices, and programs being utilized without the approval of the IT department. This situation has its advantages and disadvantages – while it encourages productivity and innovation from the employees, it can also lead to security risks and data silos in the future. Shadow IT has become more common after the cloud became popular.

1. Faster Reaction Time: Citizen development can help your organization meet your customer’s needs and wants quickly. Business agility can be within your reach if you enable your employees to develop the applications they need.

2. Boost your development capacity: Your IT department is probably overworked while trying to juggle their different responsibilities. Citizen development can help you bridge the gap and help you transform your business digitally without investing in more resources and more funds.

3. Give your experts the power: Considering that your subject matter experts know their field inside and out, they’re equipped with insider knowledge about the problems faced by their field. Your experts to pinpoint the exact functions they need and empowering them to develop the solution themselves can help with the customer experience and productivity.

4. Agility is a priority: With all hands on deck, your employees can definitely come up with the best solution quickly and develop it at a speed that hasn’t been seen before. Your workflows and applications can be built with transparency and agility, leading to better value for the customer.

5. Meet the demand: There is a lack of supply of developers in comparison to the overall demand. Empowering your employees to become citizen developers can encourage faster digitization of your workflows and processes using no-code low-code platforms.

1. Concerns for Security: Keeping data secure is extremely important for every organization and citizen development can sound like a total risk. However, if you choose one platform for all of your employees to use, you can easily keep track of the applications created. You can also have an admin monitor the applications being created for any potential data or security leaks.

2. Constant Training: Citizen development requires every employee to remain up to date and aware of any new developments in the world of technology. Consistently training your employees may be the only way to ensure that you can effectively take advantage of each of your tools.

3. More Managerial Responsibility: The managers in your organization need to be kept up-to-date with the innovations in the tech world. They also have an added responsibility of making sure that your employees are well-versed with the applications that you use. The managers also need to know the applications inside and out so that they can answer any questions that come up.

4. Too much variety: The no-code and low-code community are full of new and exciting applications being developed consistently. This can lead to an over-exposure of the different functions available with different tools which can lead to employees getting overwhelmed. Your citizen developers may need to be reined in to make sure that they focus on the current platforms that you have in use.

The IT department in an organization is very important and is generally in charge of every technology-related process and workflow throughout the company. However, this can result in extensive workloads for the IT department that result in lost time and productivity. This is where citizen developers come in. By working together, the business heads and IT leaders can develop efficient citizen development strategies that can lead to empowering employees to take advantage of the technology available to them. Citizen development can help free up the IT department to work on more mission-critical projects.

By adhering to specific guidelines and citizen development governance model, of when to turn over their project to the IT department, the citizen developers will also refrain from biting off more than they can chew. Also, when citizen development is openly promoted by the organization, this can reduce the risks of shadow IT.

Overall, citizen development has multiple benefits that can help the IT department function at their maximum capacity.

Digital transformation is a process that has become imperative in the current technological landscape. Citizen development is a good way to transform efficiently as:

  • The demand for applications in businesses far exceeds the supply and citizen developers can help bridge this gap within the organization.
  • A subject matter expert could leverage valuable insights and create an extremely useful application for their team if they are empowered technically.
  • An efficient team of citizen developers can help fill up the gaps between departments caused by an understaffed IT department which can help them keep up with demands.
  • Citizen developers can help the company remain primed for accelerating growth and creating disruptive solutions for future problems. They can provide a fresh perspective which can lead to better solutions.
  • Traditional development can be a time consuming and costly method of development which can hinder the overall progress of projects. However, no-code and low-code solutions are often cost-effective and efficient, leading to optimal outcomes within the context of the problem.

There are different types of citizen developers in an organization and each of them work towards a different goal:

Business-Unit Developers: These citizen developers are focused on providing robust applications for a certain department, division, or business unit. Developing is an important part of their job description. They generally use no-code low-code platforms on a full-time basis and can leverage their unique knowledge of processes and data to create useful applications that tackle specific problems within the Business Unit.

Business Developers: These citizen developers are generally from a purely business background which means that they know their work inside out. They create applications in their spare time to help encourage progress within their team. The challenge of development is welcome, and they can create applications using a combination of low-code and no-code elements such as app scaffolding and visual tools. They are typically part-time citizen developers.

Power Users: These citizen developers are on a mission to find the best way to boost their own productivity. Whether this involves intricate spreadsheets, configured email clients or other cloud-based tools, these employees are constantly on the look-out for the next best thing for them and sometimes, their teams. These users are motivated to improve their own work which can encourage them to create their own applications using a mix of no-code and low-code tools on a part-time basis.

Traditional view of citizen developers

3 types of nonprofessional developers

Source: Forrester Research, Inc., How To Harness Citizen Developers To Expand Your AD&D Capacity, April 2017.

Even though it seems like you’re letting go of the reigns completely, there are multiple ways to make sure that citizen development is undertaken safely and sustainably:

  • Make sure that there are specific guidelines and strategies created in collaboration with the IT department that need to be followed to prevent any mishaps from occurring. This way, the IT department can maintain some security and control while also allowing employees to use their creativity to create innovative applications.
  • Have a clear method of internal collaboration and decide who will take the lead from the beginning between the IT department or business leaders.
  • Decide which applications need to built by the IT department and which can be created by citizen developers. For example, building enterprise-grade applications should be restricted to the IT department but citizen developers can help create applications within their business unit.
  • Help set up a community for citizen developers which can help newcomers get the hang of development as well as encourage better ideas, solutions for different problems and best practices. Read more

Citizen development can help your company on many levels, from enterprise-level, business units, and departments to individual usage. The best use cases for citizen development include creating data collection applications, organizing workflows and processes in an application, and ousting paper, email, and spreadsheets. Often, citizen developers can build applications to be used at a department level or business unit level.

Creating a list of approved tools can help your citizen developers create their applications within platforms that can scale efficiently, especially if you wish to scale organization-wide in the future.

However, as citizen development platforms are innovating and improving, their capabilities are increasing. This could lead to questioning the limits of what can be done by citizen developers using no-code and low-code application development platforms. A platform like Quixy can be the secret weapon that can help your citizen developers to build impressive, innovative applications.

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