Project Management

Business Analysis and Design - Why is this important in Citizen Development?

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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.

Hello. I am glad you’re here.

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 record time, sometimes in days or even hours. If you’re new to citizen development, get ready for a fascinating new reality.

This post is the fourth in a series, introducing you to elements on the PMI Citizen Development Canvas (see the graphic below). These posts 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 last post, I introduced you to the Suitability Assessment: Suitability Assessments- what are they and why are they important. In this post, I will introduce you to Business Analysis and Design.

PMI CD Canvas - Business Analysis and Design

You can learn more about the Citizen Development Canvas and its various components in the book Citizen Development: The Handbook for Creators and Change Makers.



Business Analysis and Design - what it is and why it is important

Business Analysis and Design gives you, the Citizen Developer, a crucial understanding of how potential applications will work within an organization.

With this understanding in mind, you can develop applications that are less likely to interfere with other parts of the organization. Insight into the broader impact of citizen development will also increase the likelihood of building an application that attracts organization-wide buy-in and wider adoption.

This involves the identification of stakeholders across all departments who are currently involved in the workflow and asking them relevant questions. It also involves reviewing documentation, understanding departmental dependencies, and gathering currently used documents, forms, and spreadsheets.

In some cases, processes have never been officially documented, they’ve just been handed down. In other instances, your questions and discoveries may reveal glitches or possibilities that were previously unknown.

When your app shifts the way something is done in one department, other departments can be affected, too, like it or not. Consider this ripple effect. You want your end-users to adopt the solution, so take the time to ask the right questions and gather the information you need to really understand the way work is done, by whom, and when. Giving thoughtful consideration to the wider impact of the proposed solution is at the heart of Business Analysis and Design.

Common questions in this process include:

  • What are the current workflows?
  • What systems (technology or otherwise) are currently used in the workflow/process?
  • How has this workflow been managed in the past?
  • What actions are being taken and by whom?
  • Who and what will be impacted by this proposed solution?
  • What are the relationships or dependencies between departments?
  • Who is involved in the current workflow/process?
  • What documents are being used or generated?

The answers to these questions will give you insight into the ripple effect your app will have throughout the organization. By analyzing all this information, you are better equipped to design an app that caters to the organization’s needs. 


Let’s take a look at how one company used Business Analysis and Design and the results.

Situation: A design company wanted to create an app to support and upgrade their workflow process as it pertained to ordering, proofing, and tracking signage for its clients.

The company offered full design services for onsite events. The internal departments involved were creative services, customer success managers, event managers, shipping and delivery, onsite production, and accounting.

The Citizen Developer had already gathered information on goals and pain points but realized some critical information was missing. She wanted an even deeper understanding of what each department needed and what “workarounds” had been created to meet those needs. To gain that understanding, she began by asking questions to relevant stakeholders and gathering documentation.


Before: The Citizen Developer quickly learned that the files being created and managed were large with many tabs, all containing complicated formulas and instructions. The team members were consistently modifying the spreadsheets to meet their needs and then copying and pasting data between the original and their version. This resulted in broken formulas, inaccurate data, and missing information. In addition, documents were being shared without adequate security protocols, requests, update tracking was inconsistent, and the teams spent enormous amounts of time verifying all the data and tracking the versions.


Process: The Citizen Developer collected what was considered the “original” spreadsheet template, plus many of the “modified” versions created by the different departments. Sample project timelines, forms for submitting signage requests, email and document templates (both internal and external), checklists, image samples, task lists, and various types of reports were also gathered during this process.


By collecting these documents, the Citizen Developer:

  • Identified additional data points to include in the app
  • Gained further perspective of user types and their needs
  • Clarified proofing and approval process
  • Revealed data security issues
  • Clarified cross-functional workflows and dependencies
  • Revealed shadow IT systems
  • Uncovered outdated processes and workflows
  • Identified additional stakeholders


After: As a result of this analysis, the Citizen Developer was able to design a user-friendly signage management app that exceeded the expectations and requests of the team. It became the single source of truth for all stakeholders, provided the change-tracking that was needed, and offered the appropriate user views and security. The app improved the accuracy and consistency of data entry, was mobile-friendly, and provided real-time updates. It was an end-to-end solution that was quickly adopted by all teams because the Citizen Developer took the time to listen, explore, and implement based on the findings.


Business Analysis and Design Tips:

As a Citizen Developer, I rely on the Business Analysis and Design process to discover how workflows are really working and what the team needs to do their job. This process also minimizes misunderstandings and builds user adoption.


Some tips from my experience:

  • More information is better because you can always rule out what’s unnecessary. If this is a brand new process, there may not be much documentation.
  • As the Citizen Developer, you will get to flush it out. Lean on the relevant stakeholders to get you what you need.
  • Talk to as many people who are involved in the process as possible.
  • Gather historical data to see what’s been tried in the past.


Business Analysis and Design can provide huge insights for the Citizen Developer and will prove extremely helpful when building the app.


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: March 15, 2021 05:41 PM | Permalink

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

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