How Citizen Development Can Benefit Your Organization?

Imagine a world where your everyday colleagues who are not IT experts wield the power to create software solutions that transform your organization. It is no longer a fantasy – and citizen development is a part of the bright future where non-technical employees become software architects. Armed with IT-approved low-code/no-code platforms, these citizen developers craft tailored applications, bringing innovation and efficiency to the forefront of their workplaces. In this article, we’ll explore the transformative concept of citizen development, how it works, and what are the citizen development benefits.

What is Citizen Development?

Citizen development is a transformative business practice that empowers non-IT-trained employees to become software creators utilizing IT-sanctioned low-code/no-code (LCNC) platforms. These individuals, often referred to as “citizen developers,” craft custom business applications tailored to specific needs. Despite their lack of formal coding education, citizen developers leverage LCNC tools to connect application components, perform actions, test functionality, and publish new code. This approach fosters innovation and operational efficiency within organizations, offering a new frontier in software development that doesn’t rely solely on the coding IT departments. 

What is Low-code / Nocode?

Low-code and no-code development are transformative methodologies that have redefined the way software is created in the modern era. These approaches enable individuals, regardless of their coding expertise, to participate in application development. In the realm of low-code, developers use platforms that offer a visual development environment with some coding involved, striking a balance between simplicity and flexibility. On the other hand, no-code platforms, such as NAVIGATOR365, eliminate the need for coding entirely, making application development accessible to a broader audience. These innovative methods have ushered in a new era of agility, allowing organizations to rapidly build and customize software solutions to meet their specific needs, all without the traditional barriers of coding expertise. 

What Does a Citizen Developer Do?

A citizen developer usually takes on the role of a software creator within an organization, despite lacking formal coding education or an IT background. These employees use low-code/no-code platforms to design, build, and customize software applications to address specific business needs. Their responsibilities encompass a wide range of tasks, from identifying process inefficiencies and envisioning solutions to using intuitive visual tools provided by LCNC platforms to construct and modify applications. Citizen developers play a pivotal role in bridging the gap between technology and business, as they are uniquely positioned to understand the nuances of their organization’s operations while harnessing the power of LCNC tools to drive innovation and improve workflow efficiency. 

Citizen Developer – Skills Required

While citizen developers do not need extensive coding knowledge, they do require a specific set of skills to effectively create and customize software applications using low-code/no-code platforms. First and foremost, a citizen developer should possess a strong understanding of their organization’s business processes and objectives. This contextual awareness enables them to identify areas where custom applications can streamline operations and enhance efficiency. Additionally, problem-solving skills are crucial, as citizen developers need to analyze complex challenges and design solutions using LCNC tools. Moreover, effective communication and collaboration skills are essential, as these individuals often work closely with different teams and stakeholders to ensure the final application meets user requirements. Finally, a willingness to learn and adapt is critical, as the technology landscape evolves, and new LCNC tools and features emerge, empowering citizen developers to continually innovate and create value for their organizations.
  • Discipline
  • Analytical skills
  • Context awareness
  • Problem resolution skills
  • Effective communication
  • Adoption of different project management styles
  • Willingness to learn and adapt

Citizen Development vs Shadow IT

Shadow IT refers to the practice of employees or departments within an organization independently procuring, implementing, and managing technology solutions or services without the formal approval, knowledge, or involvement of the organization’s IT department or central IT governance. This often occurs when individuals or teams seek to address their specific needs or challenges swiftly, using tools or applications that may not adhere to the organization’s security, compliance, or operational standards. Shadow IT can pose risks related to data security, compliance violations, and inefficiencies, making it a critical concern for organizations aiming to maintain control and governance over their technology infrastructure. Citizen development and shadow IT, while both involving technology solutions outside the traditional IT department, differ significantly in their approach and implications. Citizen development encourages non-IT-trained employees to create software applications using sanctioned low-code/no-code platforms, fostering collaboration between business units and IT.  On the other hand, shadow IT involves individuals or departments independently adopting and managing technology solutions without IT’s knowledge or approval, potentially leading to security and compliance risks. While citizen development promotes transparency and controlled innovation, shadow IT can introduce unregulated tools into an organization, posing potential challenges. 

Citizen Development: Pros And Cons

Citizen development offers several advantages, including accelerated application development, reduced IT backlog, and increased collaboration between business units and IT. It empowers non-technical professionals to contribute to innovation and problem-solving. However, it also comes with challenges such as potential security risks, the need for proper governance, and the possibility of generating applications that require maintenance. Balancing these pros and cons is crucial for successful citizen development implementation.Pros:
  • Accelerated application development
  • Reduced IT backlog
  • Increased collaboration between business units and IT
  • Empowering non-IT-trained employees to contribute 
  • Potential security risks 
  • Need for proper governance 
  • Depending on the solution provider

Citizen Development Alternatives

While citizen development is a powerful approach to software creation, it’s not always the best fit for every situation. Organizations may consider alternatives such as traditional IT development, outsourcing, or using specialized third-party applications. These alternatives offer different levels of control, expertise, and cost-effectiveness depending on the specific needs and constraints of a project. 

Citizen Development – Tools And Resources

Citizen developers rely on a variety of low-code/no-code platforms to create applications. Some LCNC tools include Microsoft Power Apps, OutSystems, Mendix, and NAVIGATOR365. These platforms offer user-friendly interfaces, templates, and pre-built components to simplify application development. Additionally, numerous online communities, forums, and training resources are available to help citizen developers learn and enhance their skills. 

How to Find The Right Citizen Development Platform?

Selecting the right citizen development platform is crucial for successful application creation. To make an informed choice, organizations should consider factors such as the platform’s ease of use, scalability, integration capabilities, security features, and cost. Evaluating the specific needs of the organization and the intended application’s complexity will help in identifying the most suitable platform. Additionally, seeking feedback from citizen developers who will be using the tool and conducting thorough testing can aid in making the right choice. 

Sounds interesting? Get to know more about No-code solutionsautomation and Citizen Development in NAVIGATOR365!

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