Categories: citizen developer, citizen development, digital transformation, Innovation, IT, software development
The technology world advances every second, which is fantastic if you, like me, love technology. However, at the same time, in such a vast world of tech solutions, you can easily feel overwhelmed and lost.
Regarding Citizen Development, it’s no different. The movement has grown so much in the past few years and we have so many low-code and no-code players in the game now that deciding who is the winner has become a hard task, but when it comes to choosing a winner, are they all really playing the same game? And apologies for the spoiler here, they are not.
Your Needs Come First
When it comes to choosing a low-code/no-code tool, you need to have an overview of what you want. Don’t worry, you will probably not get it all in the first go, no one does and that is all right, but it is crucial to describe and decide on some features or requirements that are a “must have” for your citizen development project. For example, “I want to use charts in my solution” or “I want it to be mobile native”.
If you don’t have a few requirements in detail to start filtering down the software platform to use, you will be stuck. In the last project I worked on, one requirement was as simple as “we need a radar chart”. With that we were able to discard about 85% of platforms.
You only need a few points on what you want and need, and this will make the process a lot easier.
It is like deciding where to go on your summer holidays, if you are looking for a warm and hot place going to Scandinavia is probably on the bottom of your list. Alternatively, Scandinavia could be on the top of your list if your goal is to see the Aurora Borealis!
Do Not Reinvent the Wheel
Another important piece to consider is an Environment Check. If you have read PMI’s Citizen Development Handbook, you will know what I’m talking about. The Environment Check section asks questions around if there is already a solution in the market or if there is a similar tool in your organisation, etc. I strongly recommend the book as a guide for this process.
This might surprise you but many platforms offer plenty of templates where you can simply input or plug your data into it and are ready to go. How amazing is that? If you have a ready-to-go solution why would you try to create something from scratch? Don’t get me wrong, I do love to create apps to solve problems but I love to solve problems more.
More important than just figuring out if there is already a solution for your problem is figuring out if you or your organisation have the skills, capacity and capability to build this app using a Citizen Development approach.
Although it doesn’t look like it, creating might not be the hardest part of the process but maintaining and administering it needs consideration. Always have that clear in your mind whenever you start a citizen development project.
It is A Game. Play Around.
Your particular project idea might not be already done on an existing template but I’m sure the right platform for you to go and develop it is there. The best way to get to know a platform and what it is capable of, its strengths and weaknesses, is playing with it.
The majority of the vendors offer a demo or have a tutorial where by the end of using it you will have an application, but that is not the key goal here. Although, having an application after a tutorial is great, better than that is having a really good understanding of how the platform works.
In the first 3 minutes of using it, you will already have an opinion about the platform, such as “it is not user friendly”, “I couldn’t understand what is going on”, “this is amazing”, “where is the radar chart?”.
I am a very visual person, so I think it is crucial that the platform offers a nice and smooth design and has an easy-to-navigate around it approach, but at the same time, spending extra time playing with the tool makes you feel more comfortable with it. It might not check all the boxes for you, the user, but it could check all the boxes for your solution, and that is what you should be aiming for.
It is all about getting familiar with the tool and understanding what it is good at and where it is not so good.
Answering a Million-Dollar Question
If you have managed to create a list of requirements, and have spent some time identifying strengths and weaknesses on the platforms you should be able to answer the million-dollar question “What is the best tool to use for my project?”
This process can be stressful as the number of LCNC platforms out there keep growing and are every single day, but you need to make sure that they provide a solution for the area you are looking for, by that I mean automation, working with data on spreadsheets, or design and creating content, etc.
For example, the tool that provides a LCNC approach for automation won’t be the right tool if you want to create a responsive website.
Having clarity around what your problem is and how you want to solve it, will save you time on your search for the perfect tool. Believe me, the perfect tool is there, waiting for you to find it.
If you have registered for my upcoming webinar on 16th of June then I look forward to sharing my experience with you, it will be available on demand afterwards if you haven't managed to grab a place.