Project Management

What You Need to Become a Citizen Developer

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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Have you been looking at ways that you can solve problems in your business using low-code/no-code tools and platforms? When you are taking the first steps towards being a citizen developer, here’s what you need in my experience:

First of all, you´ll need an open mind-set!
At the start of your citizen development journey, you´re likely to feel overwhelmed by the amount of tools and platforms available out there. This market is in expansion and platforms and companies haven´t started to consolidate (which we´ll see in the future). So it´s difficult to select one tool and start learning about it to create your first MVP.

However, this blog isn´t about picking the right tool (which is explained in more detail here). Instead, it is about acknowledging that you will need to go through several iterations in order to find the appropriate one for your purpose. And that´s absolutely fine!

Don´t worry about having to start from scratch with a new platform because all of them have their usability learning curve, but the development process and logic is similar, regardless of the technology provider used.

When speaking to seasoned citizen developers, a common denominator among all of them is that they have used different platforms throughout their journey and pivoted to others that have characteristics more suitable to their purposes, as they went about matching requirements to platforms.

The approach is as important as the mind-set
A good piece of advice I received from a colleague with lots of experience using no-code was the following: “Play with the tool, see if you like it, do a bit of research and build something small. If you don´t like it, we will tear it apart and find something better”.

This idea of “playing with the tool” is crucial. No-code platforms gamify the experience of building applications. Some of them even offer a guided learning experience where you learn by building and playing with the tool and functionalities. Similar to a video game!

In addition to the technical training, you also need to consider including methodology training in your approach. This will help to anticipate and mitigate future pitfalls by applying, for instance, the PMI Citizen Developer methodology. Having a structured approach to building solutions is as important as knowing how to build them or what platform to use.

In summary, getting technical and methodology training will equip you with what you need to take the next steps on your citizen development journey.

Check what’s available already in your organization
Look around your organization and ask IT about what tools are available for citizen developers. Some governance or policies may have already been created, so make sure to check those out.

Get stakeholders involved and select the use case
Once you´ve got trained up, it’s time to identify a use case, something that is not too complex and that will not have a large impact if it stops working. Start small, test and learn and then scale from there.

It is advisable to speak to the stakeholders involved in the business process or affected by the app you are creating beforehand. Understanding their requirements is key to assess the suitability of the use case.

Under the PMI Citizen Developer® framework, it is recommended to assess the suitability of a use case from two different standpoints: suitability of citizen development for the use case and suitability of the environment for citizen development.

One benefit of citizen development is having the ability to prototype while ideating the solution. This will help to get you closer to the business needs and accept or discard features of the solution. In the end, you want to answer the important questions at the beginning of the project.

So from keeping your mind open to selecting the initial use case, these are all critical components of becoming a citizen developer. Let me know how you are doing on your journey!

Posted by Octavio Arranz on: August 16, 2021 07:12 AM | Permalink

Comments (5)

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Gustavo Leon Delgado San Jose, Costa Rica
Great blog on becoming a Citizen Developer. Very helpful and enlightening! Thank you for sharing.

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

Matthew Hubbard Head of Operational Excellence| TrackVia Sugar Grove, Il, USA
Thank you for the insights, Octavio. Very helpful.

Experimentation (i.e., playing with the tool), starting small and continuous improvement are hallmarks of the citizen development journey. So much more effective than the big bang approach, in my opinion.

Dr Michael Crawley Other| 1GOD1AIM1DESTINY Wheeling, Il, USA
Thanks for sharing your value-added insights

Michael Edward Putnam Founder| MEP Project Focus LLC Westerville, Oh, USA
Thanks for the great information on approach. I also appreciated you emphasizing the need to get the stakeholders in the process involved. The best ideas often come from those closest to the work! Involving them will also increase adoption and ownership going forward. Great article!

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