The untapped potential of citizen development

Close up of a screen of coding with a developer in the the forefront of the picture but isn't in focus | citizen development Nextworld

As much as technology changes the world, the world of technology is changing even faster. Every day is met with headlines about how new programs and AI tools are giving everyday users more access to data and applications. In the middle of it all-your IT team.

Between the backlog of requests, bug reports and release updates and the ever-present threat of shadow IT and system security, they have enough on their plate.

What if there was a way to meet your company’s IT demands without having to hire expensive developers or ask your current team to work after-hours?

The solution is already working for you

From revenue and market share to demand for data and workflow systems; across the board, your business needs to grow. Not every system grows the same nor is every return consistent. Not only is your IT department taxed with continually developing your enterprise product, there is a growing list of internal tech needs demanding your team’s time.

The solution is already happening in companies around the world. Citizen developers are bridging the gap between tech supply and demand, and you need to identify the right tools to make the huge leap forward.

The best part? You don’t have to hire anyone new. Right now, there are citizen developers across your company who are ready to support your IT staff while finding innovative ways to use company data and meet customer needs.

Citizen development is a workplace practice that empowers employees from any department to design and implement app-based technology with only a basic understanding of the development process.

The most common skill issue and filter when hiring IT developers is learning the code. The solution? Remove the code.

Citizen developer contributions 

Your customer success team knows they can increase their productivity tenfold if they just had a simple application to connect two databases. The end goal is clear, they just don’t know how to reach it. External developers could put it together, but they might misinterpret what they need.

Between the two groups is a language barrier: code. This is where the citizen developer comes in to patch the gap.

Citizen development leverages no-code tools to enable anyone in your company to create or modify drag-and-drop workflows, applications and business logic built on top of what your IT department already uses. Without exhausting your resources, any department can get what they need in a timely manner.

No more communication gaps, fewer meetings, one less development cycle to worry about, and one less department manager bothering you for something new.

Plus, the benefit of citizen development is in how workers are still guided by the existing IT governance and data permissions-letting them build without the risk of breaking anything.

How does no code development work? 

Those two beautiful words that every CFO loves to hear: minimal training.

Citizen developers only need to learn how to think like a developer. Processes, data sources outputs; If this, then that. No-code solutions even let your citizen developers create what they need with the help of a visual, drag-and-drop interface. Without the need to hire additional IT personnel and manage an overburdened department, your IT team can remain nimble and focused on delivering revenue-driving services.

Some companies have even gone so far as to train a dedicated citizen development liaison. These individuals ensure everyone across the company is sufficiently trained on development practices and policies before no-code apps are implemented by new employees. Lowering the barrier of entry will increase what’s possible.

The benefits of citizen development

Employing parts of your existing workforce instead of a third-party developer to make technological updates comes with a host of different benefits, the main benefit obviously being the costs saved.

From training to platform upgrades, no-code keeps citizen developers in the loop no matter what they’re making. As your company, and your platform, grows, the applications from your citizen developers grow with it. No need to eat up development cycles with code rewrites. On average, citizen development can annually save hundreds of thousands of dollars in development costs.

Money saved from not bringing in an external developer, while a positive, also comes with the lack of extensive development knowledge. However, the lack of coding knowledge doesn’t mean employees can’t contribute. You needn’t let a language barrier keep the best ideas from your tech stack. Your marketing team may not understand Python, but that doesn’t mean they don’t have great ideas about collecting, analyzing or sharing data. Citizen development asks: what would you do if you could do anything? It’s these kinds of questions that give birth to some of the most useful software applications.

However, the creation of useful software apps can’t be achieved without a steady stream of data, data that is no longer purely for leaders anymore. Citizen development makes sure up-to-date data is upfront and available for all teams.

When those apps or updates are created and implemented, they’re made with longevity in mind. Make it once, use it forever. Workflows and applications can be implemented and accessed by anyone with the right permissions. Whether they are across the hall or around the world, they get the same set of tools. Having a digital toolbox that’s accessible by most of the company allows a level of agility that’s ideal for adapting to the future.

Traditional IT vs. composable citizen development

With so many no-code applications on the table, the question could be asked – do you still need traditional IT? Absolutely. Instead of asking if you need one or the other, no-code solutions show you how traditional IT and citizen development support one another to provide company-wide growth. You will always need the structured and professional approach of your IT department to ensure what you offer your clients is both robust and scalable.

Citizen development empowers your entire company to claim a stake in the technology they use. Plus, their unique perspective about the product and the client can yield innovative results.

With the support of your traditional IT department, your citizen developers can take a composable approach in tying together existing applications to start seeing what’s possible today so your entire company knows they contributed to the image of tomorrow.