Hey there! This blog is almost about 1800+ words long & not everyone likes to read that much. We understand that.
This is precisely why we made a podcast on the topic. Harsh Makadia, Technology Evangelist at Maruti Techlabs, talks to Bikshita Bhattacharyya about using low code technology for building and shipping products.
He also talks about how he implemented low code technology for his client, the tangible benefits they got from the implementation, and more! Here is a small snippet from that episode. Check it out!
What is citizen development? How can they help your business? What is the right citizen developer framework? Let us look at the answers to these questions.
It’s no surprise that every business today needs software or an app to handle various business functions. Every industry currently relies on multiple software, and hence on software developers.
SeedScientific reports that software developers’ employment is expected to grow at a whopping 22% in the coming decade. One of the most common open positions on a job searching site is that of a software developer. The demand for software developers is so high that the supply is falling short.
Citizen developers have come to the rescue of organizations to fill the gap between software developers’ demand and supply. Citizen development is helping organizations create apps and software at a faster rate.
What is a Citizen Developer?
A citizen developer is a person without formal training in software development who develops software using low-code or no-code platforms.
The concept is similar to that of citizen journalists in this regard. The term citizen is used to imply that the person is a layman and does not have extensive textbook knowledge about software development.
Most organizations use citizen developers to create software for enterprise business applications or software used by a particular department for a specific purpose. These developers work under the IT department, and trained developers oversee their work to ensure that the end product meets the expectations.
The advent of Platform as a Service (PaaS) and Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS) has enabled people with limited coding skills to develop sophisticated software.
Even though formal training in software development is not a job requirement, certain qualities enable a citizen developer to become a star citizen developer.
You must understand the need for the software and how the end-users will use it. It helps you develop the right features for the product. You must also have strong problem-solving skills, a deep interest in learning about software development, and the ability to take constructive criticism and work with little oversight.
Why is Citizen Development on the Rise?
Citizen development is relatively new, and many organizations are hearing the term for the first time and wondering what citizen development or citizen developer framework is. Once you understand citizen developers’ role, you will also understand how the role came about in response to a real need.
More and more organizations are opting to digitize their operations. Most businesses have fully digitized their operations or are en route to complete digitization. In this regard, the IT department needs to coordinate the digitization and respond to the need for new solutions.
Many IT teams are falling behind and have a huge backlog of IT solution requests.
With increased digitization and more awareness regarding new technologies, employees expect better IT solutions to efficiently do their job. When the IT department cannot keep up with the demand, employees choose to develop their own solutions.
One can often see unofficial apps in use in organizations. It is possible because of the numerous tools that enable those without formal training to create software and applications to meet their requirements.
When IT departments realized that there were several unofficial and unauthorized apps developed by employees currently in use, the situation opened up a new possibility.
Why not bring these apps under the umbrella of the IT department and make them official?
Low-code or no-code platforms enable people with a basic understanding of business needs and problem-solving skills to create apps that can help a whole department or the entire enterprise. This gave rise to citizen development, and organizations, therefore, felt a need to have a citizen developer framework for proper citizen developer governance.
As you know, citizen development was born in response to the growing pressure on IT departments to develop solutions that enable digitizing various business processes faster.
Once businesses started accepting citizen development, they realized its many benefits.
Meeting The Demand For Apps
Employees have realized the power of apps and software and how they enable them to do their jobs easily. It has created a demand for more apps that the IT team is unable to meet. Citizen developers who are well-versed in business operations can bridge this gap.
Apps That End Users Need
It often happens that the business users are better placed to understand the app’s nuances their end-user needs. Citizen development gives the power of developing apps to those closer to the business than the developers. This way, the developed app has more probability of satisfying the needs of the end-users.
Engaging the Workforce
With increasing awareness among non-IT employees about technology capabilities, most employees expect software that will help them focus more on the actual job and improve efficiency. Citizen developers themselves can quickly create apps that are the need of the hour and keep employees engaged and efficient.
These tech solutions let employees become more efficient at their job and their productivity increases. When their productivity increases, it benefits both the employee and the organization!
The world has become a place of cut-throat competition. Every organization needs to deliver high-quality products in a short period to remain in the running. Citizen development can help develop these apps quicker, as the platforms used require low to no coding. This helps shorten the development cycle and gives your organization a competitive advantage.
13-Step Citizen Developer Framework to Empower Your Citizen Developers
The rise of citizen development can help organizations achieve dramatic advantages in productivity, development speed, and business process automation.
But how do you ensure your citizen developers add to your success instead of creating more hassle for your IT department? The key is knowing how to empower your citizen developers.
To ensure you set your citizen developers up for success and see the benefits that citizen developer tools provide, you need to empower them. By following these steps of the citizen developer framework, you’ll build an environment that embraces citizen developers and helps you get the most out of citizen development.
1. Create the Right Culture
Building an app from scratch that fails is an expensive waste of time and money using traditional software development. No business wants to go through that. Luckily, when it comes to low code/no-code development vs traditional development, low code/no code significantly reduces the investment into any application build. But that doesn’t mean that all apps and integrations created on the platform will work.
Just like any programming endeavor, some projects will fail. They may not hit the projected KPIs, or they do not work as expected.
Either way, the first step of the citizen developer framework is to encourage experimenting and risk-taking with your citizen developers. Creating the right culture is of utmost significance. It will cultivate an atmosphere of ingenuity your business will need to succeed.
2. Inspire Your Team to Share Their Ideas
Educating your staff on the citizen development movement can set the foundation for lasting success and adoption. Show them that you’re empowering them to find the best solution to the problems they face every day. And that their work can bring about organizational change.
Inspire your team to share their ideas for improvement. And ensure that you give them the time and tools they need to come up with better solutions. Be sure they know they have the permission they need to rapidly transform your business with better processes. The more inspired and empowered they feel, the more likely they are to share unique solutions.
3. Set Realistic Expectations
Citizen development has the power to transform how your business functions rapidly. Using low code and no-code development to build apps is much faster and more affordable than traditional application development. However, it would be best if you still tapered your expectations.
Moving app development away from your IT department and opening the doors for anyone in your organization to build apps does bring up a cause for concern. Your citizen developers will need time and training to fully leverage the advantages of rapid application development. And they will still need guidance from your IT professionals.
Setting realistic goals and expectations for your citizen developers will make it easier for your team to embrace the demands of learning and using low code platforms. And it’ll help them see this wave of change as a blessing, not a curse.
4. Decide Areas of Improvement
To get the most out of the transformative processes, you need a targeted approach toward the citizen developer framework. Not every instance of automation, integration, or app development will result in a justifiable ROI. Worse, you could end up with a hodgepodge of disjointed apps that creates more of a headache for everyone involved.
The solution should be to create a roadmap for improvements. Look at which areas of your business could benefit the most from process optimization. Prioritize those departments based on where your more capable employees are. It will increase your chance of success while inspiring others in your organization to follow their lead, helping you empower your citizen developers.
You also want to ensure the platform is secure, has the features your business needs, and is within your budget. Most low code application platforms follow the SaaS pricing model, meaning you pay for what you use.
6. Give Employees Time for Training
Low code and no-code platforms are designed to drastically reduce the need for code and the time required to build applications. But that doesn’t mean that your employees still don’t need to be trained on the platforms.
Depending on your team members’ code and computing knowledge level, it can take a few hours to a few weeks to learn how to use any given platform effectively.
7. Provide Guidance and Management
CIOs will still need to monitor the application development process. They’ll need to create guardrails for these citizen developers to succeed. Here are a few of the guidelines they’ll need to know:
Application lifecycle management
Compliance and security concerns
Low code gives your employees the power to build apps, but that doesn’t mean they should be thrown into the deep end. It’s essential to have your teams map out the problems they’re having first. It’s best to have guardrails in place.
As part of the citizen developer framework, before building an app, your citizen developers should know who the app is for, its intended purpose, and the desired result. They should also know if similar solutions exist and if their proposed solution fits within established business objectives.
You’ll also need to know what tasks are best suited for your citizen developers and which ones should stay with your IT department. This will ensure everyone plays to their strengths.
8. Work With Service Vendors
Depending on the platform, they may or may not add services support. Instead, any low code platforms have a network of vendors or partners to train organizations to use their platforms.
Vendors or consultants can work with your business on a one-off basis or continuously to help teach and support staff on the low code/no-code platform your business uses.
9. Remember the Value of Citizen Development
Democratizing programming throughout your organization can be a challenge. When challenges arise, it’s important to remember the value your citizen developers bring to your company. You’ll reduce instances of shadow IT, keeping your business more secure.
You’ll build the apps and business functions necessary to bring the ideal vision of your business to life. And you’ll relieve your IT department while increasing productivity across your entire organization.
10. Inspire Collaboration Between IT and Citizen Developers
Citizen developers cannot work alone. By definition, they’re not programmers. Often, they do not have a background in programming. This can make them more prone to mistakes. Without support from IT, your citizen developers could waste time creating applications where services already exist. Or they could create faulty applications.
The solution is to create a collaborative environment for your citizen developers and encourage the teams to work together. It’s crucial to take note that these are not two separate groups functioning independently. Instead, your citizen developers work as an extension of your IT department. This way, they get the guidance, support, and guardrails they need to succeed.
11. Display Myths About Citizen Development
Citizen developers will not replace IT. Nor will they create more of a headache for your programmers (as long as they have proper training and guidelines.) It’s essential to reinforce the right mindset with your IT department. They should learn to see citizen developers as an asset that will reduce their burdens.
Rather than being bogged down by an endless list of micro IT tasks to resolve, citizen developers free up your programmers’ time to focus on more critical, high-level concerns. Plus, the applications they create have a better chance of succeeding.
Your citizen developers are on the front end. They know what functionalities are needed to improve the workflows they use. That means they’re in a unique position to build a low code solution that caters to their exact needs.
12. Showcase Citizen Developer Successes
Success inspires adoption and further growth. For your citizen developers to be successful, they cannot function in a vacuum. Instead, have your teams track the time and resources saved with each application created using low code. And have them share customer and client wins as well. The more successful they feel about the work they do, the better their future efforts will be.
13. Realize that Citizen Development is Here to Stay
Did you find the video snippet on Is Low Code Technology for both Early Stage Startups and Enterprises? to be insightful? We have a ~18 min video where Harsh Makadia gets into the weeds, and we discuss how early stage startups can benefit from Low Code Development. Take a look –
Tools for Citizen Development – Citizen Developer Platforms
Low code and no-code platforms make it much easier to automate and optimize business processes. Their accessibility means that people without any programming background can learn how to build and deploy applications rapidly. As a result, organizations are becoming leaner and more agile than ever.
These platforms have given developers the power to develop sophisticated and useful software and apps without intensive software development training. Click here for extensive coverage on the top 15 low code platforms.
Given this circumstance, choosing the right citizen developer platforms is key to the citizen development program’s fate. Here are some of the features to look for in citizen developer platforms.
Cloud-based platforms let users work from anywhere they want. It makes employees more
productive. It also offers a chance for employees working remotely to become citizen developers.
Cloud-based platforms also let multiple users work on the same project simultaneously. Almost all citizen developers work in groups, and this feature facilitates smooth collaboration within the team.
Every employee within the organization need not be working on the same device. Some may use Windows devices, and some others may use Mac devices. Any app developed by the citizen developers must be available across all these devices.
Creating separate apps for various devices only leads to duplication of effort. The smart way to function is to choose a low-code platform that supports development for multiple platforms. The citizen developer only needs to create a single app, and the platform will ensure that it works across multiple devices and operating systems.
Easy To Learn
Citizen developers lack formal training, so the citizen developer platforms need to be easy to learn and use. Anyone should be able to use the platform with minimal training. Look for citizen developer platforms with drag-and-drop interfaces that reduce the amount of coding needed.
Such interfaces also support reusable code blocks used for processes that occur most often in your organization.
Everything works on data. The app developed by citizen developers will use real-time data. The platform should support integration with databases in real-time to ensure that the end product performs the desired functionality.
Data security is a paramount concern of all organizations. The citizen developer platforms must have adequate security features that ensure that all data is protected from threats.
According to Gartner, by 2023, there will be four times more citizen developers than traditional programmers in large enterprises. Plus, over 40% of businesses surveyed already have citizen development initiatives in place. And 20% of those that don’t are looking into them.
An indispensable factor in leveraging citizen developers is picking the right technology and tools. For the required expertise to help you decide on the right low code development platforms, please reach out to us here at Maruti Techlabs.
No one can deny the advantage that reducing the strain on your IT department has for an organization. Nor can they argue against the ability to produce compliant, secure solutions that streamline business processes rapidly.
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