Project Management

Suitability Assessments - what are they and why are they important?

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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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Welcome to the world of citizen development.

Amazing things happen here in the world of citizen development. If you’ve been in it a while, you already know how incredible it is to watch an idea go from spark to screen in days or even hours. If you’re new to citizen development, get ready for a fascinating new reality.

This post is the third in a series that will introduce you to elements on the PMI Citizen Development Canvas (see below). These blogs are designed to inspire you, share tips and insight, and further your knowledge and experience. I welcome your questions and encourage you to share your own stories in the comments.

I am glad you’re here.

Last month I introduced you to Ideation 2.0. This month, I will introduce you to Suitability Assessments.

PMI Citizen Development Canvas - Suitablity Assessment

 

Suitability Assessments - what are they and why are they important?

Is a project you’re considering suitable for a low-code/no-code (LCNC) solution? There’s an easy way to find out before you begin.

The term “suitability assessment” sounds long and drawn out, but in the LCNC world, it is a simple series of questions that can be quickly answered and rated by Citizen Developers. The questions spring from two sets of criteria:

  1. Is the citizen development process the right fit for the proposed solution?
  2. Does the company have the skills, tools, capacity, and buy-in to support the proposed solution?

Let’s take a look at how one company performed its suitability assessment and the final results.

Situation: A manufacturing company needed a new way to manage its vendor relationships.  A team was assembled from each of the following departments: Partner Management, Accounting, Legal, Sales, and Operations. Through Ideation 2.0, the team identified the need for a solution to track communications, interactions, jobs, invoices, legal documentation, pricing, and general services on each of their vendors. The team favored the idea of a LCNC app, but the Citizen Developer wisely decided to conduct a suitability assessment to ensure it is a good fit for the project and the company.

 

Before: The vendor list within the manufacturing company is growing exponentially, and each department has cobbled together workflows specific to their department. Each department stored key data about vendors without visibility across all departments, creating unnecessary silos and miscommunication. There was no single source of truth.

 

Process: The team performed a suitability assessment in less than 20 minutes by using two tools found in the Citizen Development: The Handbook for Creators and Change Makers

The first tool they used was the Suitability Assessment Scorecard. The scorecard helped the squad determine if the proposed solution was appropriate for a citizen development project. The simple scoring method was:

        YES (the statement is true): 2 points

        NO (the statement is not true): 0 points

        Neither YES or NO (somewhere in the middle): 1 point

In general, the higher the score, the better the fit for a LCNC project.

 

Suitability Assessment Scorecard

Question

Score

This solution requires little/no coding.

2

The cost of this solution is favorable in comparison to alternatives.

2

This solution will require regular and/or agile customizations.

1

There are capacity constraints within the IT team preventing them from delivering this solution in the required time frame.

2

Our team is open to learning and using citizen development application platforms.

2

The citizen development approach is less disruptive to the vendor.

2

Using citizen development matches the strategic direction of the organization.

2

Total        

13

With a score of 13 out of 14, the Citizen Developer classified the project as one which would be suitable for a citizen development solution.

 

The second tool the squad used was the Environmental Check. This tool helped them assess the suitability of citizen development from a corporate perspective. These questions weren’t scored but were discussed among the team.

Environmental Check

Question

Answer

Is there an app on the market that satisfies the requirements for this solution?

Yes, but it would require significant cost and time to customize and implement.

Is there a tool within your organization that satisfies the requirements for this solution?

Yes, the current CRM has a module-specific for vendors. There will be an additional cost, but it would support the needs of each department.

Does the squad lack the skills and capabilities required to build this app using citizen development?

No, the squad is capable of building this app. Some IT time will be needed for testing and security review.

Does the squad have the capacity (time) to build the app?

Neutral. Capacity planning would need to be utilized to ensure project deliverables are met.

Have you yet to identify and engage with stakeholders outside of the immediate team that will be impacted?

No, still need exec and IT team buy-in.

Does the solution require high-volume data analytics?

Eventually yes, plus it will contain confidential data.

Is there a significant impact if the existing shadow IT (current department data) stops being used?

No.

 

After: The big ah-ha for the team was the answer to the question, “Is there a tool within your organization that satisfies the requirements for this solution?” Until that moment, the squad hadn’t realized their existing CRM included a module to support what they each needed. By activating the vendor module and increasing the license count for the existing tool, the team was able to efficiently meet their stated goals. With the solution already in existence, it made more sense in this situation to use the existing CRM rather than create a new app. 

 

Suitability assessment tips:

As a Citizen Developer, I see the opportunity to develop solutions around every corner, yet LCNC tools aren’t always the answer. My overriding passion is to equip teams with the tools to help them work more efficiently, and that’s why I run each citizen development project through basic suitability assessments before launching into development.

Experience has taught me to:

  • Keep an open mind about possible solutions. 
  • Ask lots of questions - how, why, when, who, what, where? Go deep!
  • Understand the corporate landscape and the capacity of the LCNC tool I am using

Suitability assessments are your friend. They make sure that the projects you are working on are appropriate for the citizen development app and will fit within the organization.

 

What did this post spark in you? Are you new to no-code/low-code app creation? Have you used a suitability assessment in your company? Please post your questions, comments, and stories below.

Want to learn more? Grab your copy of the newly released book Citizen Development: The Handbook for Creators and Change Makers.

Posted by Jody Temple White on: February 18, 2021 04:42 PM | Permalink

Comments (4)

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Jelili Odunayo Kazeem Co-Founder| Convosync Solutions Limited Enugu, En, Nigeria
Suitability Assessment Scorecard and Environmental Check are great tools. Understanding the corporate landscape and the capacity of the LCNC tool one is using is key. Thanks for sharing these great insights, Jody.

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Kiron Bondale
Community Champion
Mentor| World Class Productivity Inc. Welland, Ontario, Canada
Good post, Jody! The key with any type of suitability assessment is not to make it a formal gating process wrapped in layers of bureaucracy, but to be a lean, decision-support tool to help business areas understand the risk of proceeding with a CD-approach so that they can implement effective countermeasures.

Kiron

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Jody Temple White Citizen Developer, PMP, Operations Specialist| ASG Projects, LLC Portland, Or, USA
Thanks Jelili and Kiron.

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AHMED ALZUBIDY practicing geologist| Ministry of Industry and Mineral Resources Jeddah, Makkah Al Mukarramah, Saudi Arabia
Thank you for all your efforts and we look forward to more

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