No-code app platform / 7 min read

Unleashing the power of citizen developers in the digital age

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By Marion / March 28, 2023

The need for software development has always been high, and it continues to be crucial in the digital age.

However, traditional programming often requires extensive technical skills that many individuals and organizations do not possess. This is where citizen developers come in, a term used to describe individuals who create software applications without traditional programming expertise.

Best practices for citizen developers

In this article, we'll explore the benefits and challenges of citizen development, the role of technology in enabling citizen development, and how organizations can unleash the power of citizen developers.

Definition of Citizen Developers:

Citizen developers are non-technical individuals who create software applications using no-code or low-code platforms. These platforms allow users to create applications through visual interfaces and drag-and-drop features, removing the need for extensive programming knowledge. Citizen developers can come from any department within an organization and are often business analysts, marketers, or project managers.

Benefits of Citizen Development:

Citizen development has emerged as a powerful tool for organizations, providing a host of benefits that can help companies stay ahead of the competition. One of the most significant advantages of citizen development is its ability to reduce development time and costs. Companies can quickly build custom software applications without the need for external contractors or extensive IT resources.

For instance, a healthcare company might use citizen developers to build an app that helps patients track their medications and appointments. The app can be quickly created by a team of citizen developers who work within the healthcare organization, eliminating the need for hiring external contractors or IT support. This can significantly reduce development time and costs, as well as enhance the company's ability to provide better patient care.

Citizen developers bridge the gap between IT and business departments

Another key benefit of citizen development is that it can bridge the gap between IT and business departments. Citizen developers are often embedded within these departments and can create applications that meet specific business needs without requiring extensive input from IT. This can lead to better collaboration and faster project delivery.

For example, a retail company might use citizen development to create an app that helps store managers manage inventory more efficiently. The app can be developed by a team of citizen developers who work closely with the retail business department, and the IT department can provide support and guidance as needed. This approach can lead to faster development times, more efficient collaboration between departments, and a better overall user experience.

In conclusion, citizen development is a valuable tool for companies looking to stay competitive in today's fast-paced business world. By reducing development time and costs, and bridging the gap between IT and business departments, citizen development can help companies create custom software applications quickly and efficiently.

"The Pros and Cons of Citizen Development" outlines the advantages and challenges of citizen development, including its potential to reduce development time and costs.

Challenges of citizen developers

Challenges of Citizen Development:

While citizen development offers many benefits, there are also challenges to consider. One of the biggest challenges is ensuring that citizen-developed applications meet the same standards for security and quality as traditionally developed applications. This requires organizations to provide adequate training and support for citizen developers to ensure they have the skills and knowledge to create secure and high-quality applications.

Another challenge is managing the proliferation of citizen-developed applications. Without proper governance and oversight, organizations may end up with a patchwork of applications that are difficult to maintain and update. It's important for organizations to create an environment that encourages citizen development while also providing guidelines and processes to manage it effectively.

The Digital Age

The digital age has enabled citizen development through the rise of no-code and low-code platforms. These platforms allow citizen developers to create applications quickly and easily using visual interfaces and pre-built components. This means that even non-technical individuals can create complex applications without the need for extensive programming knowledge.

Citizen Developers in the Workplace:

Citizen developers are becoming increasingly common in the workplace, as organizations recognize the benefits of leveraging the skills and knowledge of non-technical employees. By empowering these individuals to create software applications, organizations can improve efficiency, collaboration, and innovation.

However, it's important to note that citizen development should not be seen as a replacement for traditional IT departments. Rather, it should be viewed as a complementary approach that can help organizations meet specific business needs quickly and efficiently.

Unleashing the power of citizen developers

Unleashing the Power of Citizen Developers

Creating an Environment to Embrace Citizen Development: 

Creating an environment that embraces citizen development involves setting up the right infrastructure and governance policies to support non-technical individuals in developing software applications. For example, an organization can provide access to no-code or low-code platforms, templates, and other resources to help citizen developers create applications quickly and efficiently.

In addition to tools and resources, organizations should also establish guidelines and standards for citizen development to ensure that the applications meet quality, security, and compliance requirements. For instance, an organization can set up a citizen development center of excellence (CoE) to provide governance and oversight of citizen-developed applications.

No-code or low-code platforms: Check out some of the main no-code or low-code platform differences.

Drag and drop features and ready templates make building an app much easier

Training and Support for Citizen Developers: 

Organizations must ensure that citizen developers are adequately trained and supported to create high-quality applications. Providing access to training materials, mentorship programs, and ongoing support can help citizen developers acquire the necessary skills and knowledge to build applications.

For instance, an organization can offer online courses or workshops on coding fundamentals, app design, and development methodologies. Organizations can also provide mentorship programs where experienced developers can guide and support citizen developers as they build applications.

Moreover, organizations can create communities of practice where citizen developers can share their knowledge, exchange best practices, and collaborate on projects. This can help foster a culture of innovation and collaboration within the organization.

If you're looking to train citizen developers, check out "The Ultimate Guide to Citizen Developer Training" for comprehensive tips and best practices.

Conclusion

In conclusion, citizen development offers a powerful way for organizations to create custom software applications quickly and efficiently. By leveraging the skills and knowledge of non-technical employees, organizations can improve collaboration, efficiency, and innovation. However, it's important to manage citizen development effectively to ensure applications meet the same standards for security and quality.

Explore best practices for keys to securing the citizen developer.

As previously mentioned, managing the proliferation of citizen-developed applications is another challenge that organizations need to address. To manage citizen development effectively, organizations should establish guidelines, standards, and processes that enable citizen developers to create high-quality applications while also maintaining governance and oversight.

Furthermore, organizations need to ensure that citizen developers are equipped with the right tools and resources to create applications that meet business needs. This means providing access to no-code or low-code platforms, pre-built templates, and other resources that can help citizen developers build applications quickly and easily.

Creating an environment that encourages and supports citizen development also means recognizing and rewarding citizen developers for their contributions. Organizations can establish recognition programs, such as gamification or badges, to recognize and reward citizen developers for their efforts. This can help create a culture of innovation and collaboration within the organization.

Future Outlook

The future of citizen development looks bright, as more organizations recognize the value of leveraging the skills and knowledge of non-technical employees. With the rise of no-code and low-code platforms, citizen development is becoming more accessible and easier to implement.

In the future, we can expect to see more organizations adopting citizen development as a complementary approach to traditional IT. We may also see the rise of citizen development communities, where citizen developers from different organizations can share knowledge and collaborate on projects.

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