Due to the scarcity of skilled technical personnel, enterprises are exploring various options to satisfy their application development needs. One potential solution is training non-IT specialists to take on development tasks.
If you assume that programming is time-consuming to learn, reconsider your perspective. It is conceivable to create applications even without prior coding expertise. Individuals who achieve this are called ‘citizen developers’, and the process of building applications with little or no coding knowledge is known as ‘low-code’ or ‘no-code.’
The idea of citizen development has gained considerable popularity and brings application development nearer to the intended beneficiaries. This approach potentially increases efficiency and relieves some pressure off tech professionals. In this article, we will investigate the advantages and disadvantages of citizen development, the tools and resources available, and how to establish a citizen development workforce.
Under What Circumstances Do Citizens Foster a Community’s Expansion?
Citizen development empowers personnel with limited IT proficiency to generate software. This method relies on low-code and no-code technologies and grants these specialists the ability to conceptualize, blueprint, and fabricate applications with minimal coding expertise. Low-code development is distinct from no-code because it allows customization by manipulating the code. In contrast, no-code development is accomplished through a drag-and-drop interface that constructs application components.
Gartner forecasts that in the next year, the number of amateur programmers will surpass professional programmers by a ratio of four to one. This is due to the growing acceptance of citizen development, which presents companies with an opportunity to reduce expenses on new technical hires, foster efficiency by developing high-quality applications, and inspire innovation by releasing assets for more challenging ventures.
According to a recent article in Computerworld, a significant proportion of software developers will soon arise from corporate divisions rather than IT departments. This is because of the growth in low-code and no-code software solutions for automating operations. Although lacking robust coding backgrounds, these ‘citizen engineers’ comprehend technology well and may possess expertise in tools like spreadsheets, databases, or the business’s own technology, obtained through working in positions such as customer service or business analysts.
Advantages of Community Expansion
As enterprises aim to stay competitive in the international market, they acknowledge the significance of encouraging digital innovation among their staff. There are several ways that businesses can profit from enlisting citizen developers, which are elaborated below.
Increased productivity:Because of their proximity to the concerns they seek to resolve, experts working in various departments of the company are often the most qualified to provide solutions. Additionally, teams that create their own applications enjoy greater control over their workflow, which can improve productivity. Both factors ultimately impact employee satisfaction.
Reduced time for development and introduction of products:Hiring additional programmers may be advantageous for your enterprise, allowing you to design and launch applications more quickly to outpace the competition. Additionally, extra expertise in the area can be harnessed to develop and deliver better quality products and services.
Cost reduction:The benefits of low-code and no-code platforms are not exclusive to citizen developers. These platforms can also be used by traditional programmers to reduce development time and expenses. By simplifying the process, engineers can complete projects more quickly and shift their attention towards more intricate tasks, such as the core system architecture. These platforms can also assist agile programmers.
Allocation of IT resources:The pressure on IT teams rises as technical skill shortages become more evident. In certain cases, teams may be unable to cope with the added burden of application development. Citizen development can provide some respite by taking on some of those responsibilities, allowing your most proficient employees to concentrate on more critical assignments, such as digital transformation.
Rapid response to critical demands:The COVID-19 pandemic has led to escalated demand for IT experts, who are necessary for ensuring remote team cooperation. However, other situations, such as cyberattacks or the introduction of a new project, may require unforeseen IT assistance. Citizen developers can be enlisted to provide additional resources for specific duties during such circumstances.
Enhancement of employees’ skills:Companies grappling with the challenge of identifying qualified candidates for IT positions may have a feasible solution at hand. Training programs are being implemented to equip individuals with the technical expertise needed to fill these positions. An article in Computerworld recently emphasized that reskilling or upskilling current employees serves to bridge the skills gap while also providing a retention benefit, as many employees prioritize acquiring new skills.
Results of Citizen-Led Expansion
Enterprises that encourage citizen development must be cautious of potential drawbacks, despite the numerous potential advantages.
Compromise security:As many low-code systems are cloud-based, there is a risk of sensitive corporate information becoming publicly accessible. Citizen coders may not be fully aware of this potential issue and its associated consequences, which is why the concept of do-it-yourself development is a fallacy. To ensure optimal security, it is crucial to educate all staff members on the best practices for application security.
Acknowledge the possibility of unauthorized IT usage:Employees who use shadow IT pose a risk to corporate information as they may be utilizing unauthorised software and hardware. The use of no-code or low-code applications may not be compliant with internal security regulations, and citizen development can also pose a challenge. Therefore, it is crucial for enterprises to monitor citizen development, and for IT professionals to evaluate any in-house applications.
Gamble on the unfamiliar:Educating a workforce of citizen developers is not a simple, swift, or cost-effective process. Companies must assess the anticipated return on investment of their spending on training, hardware, and software and then make informed decisions on the amount of investment.
Encountering quality issues:Citizen developers may be able to create simple applications, but they may lack the expertise to handle more intricate tasks. Quality assurance could be compromised at more advanced stages of development. Without effective oversight, the citizen development program could result in inefficiencies, such as multiple developers working on the same project, or applications being incompatible with the company’s existing infrastructure.
Supportive Resources for Community Expansion
In-house instruction and external resources are both essential.
Online Accessible Media
Create Apps Without Writing a Line of Code for 100 Days: Members of this community can sign up for a subscription service that provides access to resources such as tutorials, seminars, labs, demos, and events aimed at learning how to develop applications without any programming.
Every Day in Basic Code: Distinguished low-code developers share their expertise on this news website.
No Code Minimum: You can find all the resources you need to develop your next no-code project in this directory.
NoCode Magazine: This site provides a diverse range of resources for those interested in visual development, citizen development, and low- or no-code programming. It features contributions from individuals with diverse backgrounds, all of whom are passionate about writing without the need for code. Users can sign up for the website’s email updates to stay informed.
NoCodery: This organization provides access to both courses and no-code tools. Experts share their knowledge and insights on no-code platforms.
Defunct Code Operations: Members of this group frequently publish a newsletter with valuable insights on no-code environments. They also foster a platform where seasoned professionals can share their knowledge to develop programs that address urgent corporate issues.
Project Management Institute (PMI): This leading organization in the project management field provides resources to aid companies in implementing citizen development.
Mendix: This low-code platform is designed for individuals who are not IT professionals and can be used to quickly develop applications.
Microsoft Power Apps: This low-code platform grants professionals the ability to develop applications without coding while also facilitating smooth access and utilization of data, metadata, and custom connections for skilled developers.
Quixy: This no-code application builder has earned widespread acclaim due to its platform and various training materials.
Salesforce Lightning Platform: A low-code technology accessible from the market leader in CRM solutions, comprising the Lightning Object Creator, Lightning Flow Builder, Dynamic Forms, and Dynamic Actions.
Vinyl: Utilizing Zudy’s no-code development platform, users can quickly develop applications and connect them to existing infrastructure.
Approaches to Creating a Community-Based Development Team
Prior to taking any additional steps, it is critical to conduct comprehensive research to determine if a citizen developer workforce is appropriate for an organization. Building a skilled team of citizen developers can be just as challenging as implementing any other major business transformation.
Build a team. Organize a group of stakeholders, comprising senior management, IT experts, and other vital personnel in the organization. This team can provide a valuable forum for addressing crucial questions related to citizen developers in the workforce. As planning and execution progress, it is crucial to assess the team’s makeup.
Have a broad perspective. It is important to convene a gathering with possible programme participants to examine the program’s objectives and assess the potential financial implications. It is also necessary to contemplate who should be involved, what challenges might arise, which divisions of the organization could be most affected, and what change management strategies could be implemented to guarantee the program’s success.
Create a process. When determining the optimal workflow for a team of citizen developers, it is essential to deliberate on how projects should be initiated. Should it be a bottom-up approach, with team members from various departments identifying application requirements in their respective areas? Alternatively, should the tech team members identify tasks that require assistance and assign them to citizen developers, or the other way around?
Create some guidelines. To support both private and public app development, organizations should start by establishing rules or principles that apply to both. They should also modify data usage regulations formulated for IT-built applications to be utilized by citizen developers. This approach encourages citizen involvement in development while preserving the security of IT infrastructure.
Clarify the role of IT. The IT department should remain the primary point of contact for any concerns or questions related to the reliability and security of the organization’s crucial systems. Additionally, these teams should participate in the decision-making process regarding which projects are appropriate for citizen developers. They could offer input into the selection of citizen development tools and, in some cases, in the training of citizen developers.
Citizen developers could receive guidance from the IT team, which could double as quality assurance operators, verifying that deployed applications meet the organization’s requirements.
Find citizen programmers. By consulting with senior members of the organization, identifying potential citizen developers can be feasible. This can help determine which sections are involved in shadow IT and could benefit from secure internal applications developed by citizen developers, making it a viable solution to reduce potential security risks.
Subsequently, speak with the Computer Science department to determine which projects have been postponed. The departments responsible for launching these initiatives typically have an interest in ensuring their successful completion and are therefore likely to be willing to serve as citizen developers.
Utilizing internal communication is advisable to propagate the need for citizen coders. Departments such as customer service, marketing, and shipping may contain potential job candidates who have the potential to either continue in their current positions or advance to IT positions.
Tools for conducting research. For optimal operations, it is beneficial for all personnel within the company to use the same software. Amazon’s Honeycode is a low-code, cost-effective solution with a variety of pre-defined templates that can be utilized to create project trackers, time off logs, event schedulers, lead trackers, inventory management systems, and staff satisfaction surveys quickly and efficiently.
The tools chosen must be easy to use and provide the features that working professionals need, such as the ability to customize software and create personalized versions for team members. Furthermore, they should offer comprehensive training and support to their users.
Empower the public to become software creators. It can be advantageous to offer official training to team members on relevant tools or allocate them dedicated time to learn independently. To avoid disruption of existing procedures, consulting with IT is recommended. Resources including Codecademy can provide employees with the chance to learn and practice new skills in a realistic environment. Regular testing should be carried out to ensure that employees have retained the information taught.
Keep the software updated. As the Citizen Development Program progresses, it is crucial to make modifications to ensure its effectiveness. This could involve adjusting rules to account for past errors, enhancing onboarding and training processes for new members, or creating sub-teams with designated leaders.
Involving citizen engineers in software development is vital for its success. In a recent article by Kissflow, they suggest establishing a “Centre of Excellence” to encourage collaboration between professional and citizen developers. This could provide citizen developers access to educational resources and guidance from industry experts, enabling them to work on more advanced projects.
Citizen Developers Enable Regular People to Address Business and Technological Challenges.
Although concerns have been raised about security and quality with regards to citizen development, it is widely acknowledged that training a citizen development workforce can benefit organizations if conducted with care. Conversations about this developing role in businesses have mainly centered on the technological advantages it can provide, such as application development and easing the workload on IT departments.
In the grand scheme of things, businesses should concentrate on tackling significant concerns such as boosting profits, reducing costs, enhancing productivity, and distinguishing themselves from competitors. Citizen development can speed up progress in these areas. Quick product launches can also be advantageous, as they increase speed, flexibility, and competitiveness. Moreover, employee satisfaction has been shown to have a positive impact on both costs and productivity, which is frequently neglected.
It is crucial for businesses to consider multiple factors when deciding to implement a citizen development program. This type of initiative is predicted to gain popularity in various industries in the following months and years.