Project Management

Why Citizen Development Can Be a Game Changer for NGOs and Public

From the Citizen Development Insights Blog
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Citizen development is a disruptive approach to digital transformation and organizational innovation, where teams are empowered to turn ideas into applications using no-code/low-code technology. This blog provides insights, advice and practical knowledge from thought leaders and practitioners in Citizen Development.

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Citizen development is an emerging trend that enables every person to create applications by using low-code / no code platforms. This new capability will change the way organisations and individuals work- for the better. Citizen development has the ability to reduce costs, increase productivity levels and reduce time to market.

There is a huge opportunity for Non-Governmental Organisations (NGOs) and Public Administrators to leverage Citizen Development.

The Nature of NGOs

NGOs operate under tight budgets. Generally speaking, they are dependent on donations to achieve their desired objectives.

Another characteristic of NGOs is their need to adapt and be flexible in critical situations such as social emergencies or even pandemics.

Opportunities to Leverage Citizen Development

There are many ways in which citizen development can be leveraged in order to improve NGO’s organizational landscape:

1.       Using citizen development, NGOs can support new organizational processes or substitute existing systems without spending a fortune.  

2.       It can enable NGOs to react to market dynamics in an agile manner by creating ad-hoc solutions which are grounded in citizen development apps.

3.       Citizen development can enable NGO’s to innovate in the way they reach to people in need much faster and at a fraction of the cost.

How Citizen Developers Can Help NGOs

There are a lot of ways in which citizen developers can help NGOs. Why not donate low code/no code applications to NGOs? Why not use your citizen developer skillset and donate your time to create solutions for these organisations?

The increase in use of citizen development opens up a new way of carrying out pro-bono projects for software developers. They can use their knowledge and skills to help NGOs. This it can be done at any level: local, regional or global.

If citizen development is used to leverage the social media reach of NGOs, it has the potential to become a greater enabler for impact. NGOs will then be able to adjust, iterate, learn and improve their in-house applications. 


Having read about how citizen development can help NGOs, imagine how it could transform public administrations and governments. The typical political lifecycle lasts 4 years. The first year of every government is spent on getting to know the administration’s landscape. The next 2 years are spent implementing policy and executing projects and the last year is reserved to prepare for the re-election.

Citizen Development Opportunities for Government

In an environment where IT systems are frequently obsolete and development cycles usually last longer than the two year term politicians have to implement and execute, citizen development is a great opportunity.

If public administrators adopt citizen development, policy implementation and project execution can be carried out on time and within budget. Citizen development can also facilitate the maintenance of systems upgrades when funding is difficult to find or the capabilities are not in house and cannot be outsourced.

Citizen development also presents an opportunity for politicians to strengthen their engagement with local communities. Utilising much shorter development cycles, well within their political terms, it allows them to connect with citizens and consult, gather feedback and ultimately make an improved impact during their term.

Particularly at a local level. Imagine citizens of local communities getting involved in the development of new policies and how those come to life in the form of applications. Citizen development indeed!

Use Cases

There are plenty of examples where citizen development has been leveraged by governmental bodies during the Covid-19 pandemic.

One good example is the book-your-spot in the beach app which was deployed in Spain. Another example is the Covid tracing solution in Ireland. Both applications were created during the summer of 2020. The former is a basic booking management system while the latter is a database with personal information (replacing spreadsheets, word documents and even paper).

These are not complex systems. However, they have had a significant impact on the control and evolution of the pandemic. If this doesn’t show how citizen development can be used by governmental bodies for the greater good of all citizens, what does?


Governmental bodies in Spain and Ireland have leveraged citizen development in order to satisfy the needs of their people. Both use cases are shareable among local, regional or national administrations.

They could even be made as an open source and replicated in the antipodes days, weeks or months later if the need arose. The good news is, such apps and solutions are already developed and available!

I expect that some countries will adopt several low code/no code platforms and use them to quickly develop niche solutions that might be scaled, changeable or re-used. These platforms can be used as a building block for more complex solutions.


It is evident that citizen development can be used to improve how organisations operate and react. A lot of articles have been created around the benefits that citizen development can bring to the business world in general.

This article sheds some insight into how citizen development can be used to increase the operational effectiveness of NGOs and public administrations. It shows how citizen development can leveraged to make a difference. There is a huge opportunity for NGOs and governmental bodies to adopt, innovate and scale citizen development in order to improve the wellbeing of many people and communities.

Posted by Octavio Arranz on: December 11, 2020 06:57 AM | Permalink

Comments (8)

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Jean-Claude Greco Sierre, Valais, Switzerland
Thanks for sharing

Kwiyuh Michael Wepngong Financial Management Specialist | US Peace Corps / Cameroon Yaounde, Centre, Cameroon
Thanks for sharing

Abolfazl Yousefi Darestani Manager, Quality and Continuous Improvement| Hörmann-TNR Industrial Doors Newmarket, Ontario, Canada
Great. Thank you

Charles Ibonye Cofounder/Director, Project & Business Development| Smartech Enterprise Integrated Concept (SEIC) Limited Lekki Penisula, Lagos State, Nigeria

Great write up and we definitely need more citizen developers.

yangping zou Zhongshan, China, Mainland
Thanks for sharing

Eduin Fernando Valdes Alvarado Project Manager| F y F Fabricamos Futuro Villavicencio, Meta, Colombia
Thanks for sharing, very interesting.

Octavio Arranz Senior Consultant| FTI Consulting Ireland
Thanks for the positive comments. If you have any further insights on this or other topics, please feel free to reach out!

Jelili Odunayo Kazeem Co-Founder| Convosync Solutions Limited Enugu, En, Nigeria
The ease and quick delivery and deployment of apps, products, and services, the flexibility with Low-code/No-code platforms, the interoperability of the systems, and the ability of employees to bring ideas to life keeps the engine running for Citizen Development. Every CEO should take advantage of it.

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