Project Management

Citizen Development Part 5: Scaling For Success 

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: The Path to Success Starts Small

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Not quite ready to scale? Don’t worry 

Before we get into scaling citizen development, it’s worth remembering that relatively few organizations have reached this stage. With citizen development still a fairly new idea, companies that are still in the discovery or adoption phases certainly shouldn’t look upon this negatively. The most important thing is to start, and only when the proper elements are in place, should organizations look to scale. That said, let’s look at the scaling process for an idea of what to expect when the time comes. 



Preparing to scale

So, you’ve launched your initial pilot by taking a suitable use case and experimenting with citizen development. You’ve assessed the results against key performance indicators and have relayed your findings to developers and stakeholders. This initial pilot will help you identify further use cases and determine what resources you will need to move forward. 


You may also start to get requests for changes to be made or new features to be added to the applications that were developed by your citizen developers during the pilot. This will help you see which areas of the development process and product have been most successful, and which still need work. The types of requests will tell you whether citizen developers can handle the changes, or whether they should be handed to IT. 


Go forth and spread the word 

Now that you’ve tested citizen development and have concrete results to show, it’s time to get even more buy-in from the wider organization; this will be essential in successfully scaling citizen development. The small group you started out with is proof that there has to be a change in the way people think about software development – a change in culture. 


You can evangelize citizen development throughout the organization by various means, including hackathons, blogs, events, and more. This will help you to find executive sponsors and problem solvers on both the business and IT sides. These people will spread the message via their own channels to get their colleagues fired up about citizen development. 


The goal is to create a community around a central portal where people can share knowledge and collaborate. As enthusiasm for citizen development spreads, different departments will start to incorporate the strategy into their decision-making. One example is HR, who may want to consider the potential of a candidate to become a citizen developer when hiring new employees. 


Tracking success 

As you did with the pilot, it’s important to measure the performance of your citizen development initiatives during the scaling phase. Keeping track of how much of an impact citizen development applications have on the organization as a whole will be essential if the strategy is to be sustainable in the long run. 


The aim post-scaling is to arrive at what we call the “zen stage”, in which your citizen development community is a self-perpetuating engine. By creating a dashboard that tracks metrics like the number of active users, backlog items, updates, etc., you’re able to make your successes transparent. 


A win-win for the business and IT 

We’ve just scratched the surface of scaling here, but it hopefully gives you an idea of the shape of the journey, and of the destination. When organizations have successfully surpassed the scaling phase, they arrive at a point in which the business is much more self-sufficient, and IT has more time to focus on higher-level initiatives. It can be a challenging journey, so it’s important to remind ourselves from time to time of those innovative organizations that have successfully started and scaled citizen development and who are winning in the next normal as a result. 

Posted by Ryan Whitmore on: August 02, 2021 09:56 AM | Permalink

Comments (3)

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Rami Kaibni
Community Champion
Senior Projects Manager | Field & Marten Associates New Westminster, British Columbia, Canada
Great piece Ryan. I can see sacling CD being of great added value in the future and in fact, I can see this become an essential part of PMO's whether it is supportive, directive or strategic PMO.

John McIntyre London, London, United Kingdom
Scaling is a big challenge with CD. You can often get a small core of passionate people, but scaling needs safety nets. It is very easy for people to make huge mistakes with CD which can at best be demoralizing for the individuals, or worse can cause reputational and financial damage. Having a centre of excellence is key, lots of transparency, libraries/ templates based on your internal apps, and an internal peer review network.

Binay Samanta Director| Project & Environment Consultants Dhanbad, India
Tracking success in project need scaling

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