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5 Top Citizen Development Myths Busted

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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In the world of software development, citizen development is a term that's gaining traction. It refers to the process of allowing non-technical employees, often referred to as "citizen developers," to create applications and automate tasks without relying on IT professionals. While citizen development has its merits, it's not immune to misconceptions and myths. In this blog, we'll shed light on five of the top citizen development myths and debunk them to help you better understand this transformative approach.

Top 5 Citizen Development Myths

Myth 1: Citizen Development is a Threat to IT

One of the most common misconceptions about citizen development is that it poses a threat to the IT department. Some IT professionals worry that allowing non-technical employees to create applications could lead to security vulnerabilities, data breaches, or chaotic IT environments. However, this myth is more fiction than fact.

Reality Check:

Citizen development is not a replacement for IT but rather a complementary approach. When implemented correctly, citizen development can actually ease the burden on IT teams by empowering employees to solve their own problems. IT professionals can work alongside citizen developers to establish guidelines, provide training, and ensure that the created applications comply with security and compliance standards. This collaborative effort can lead to a more efficient and agile IT ecosystem.

Myth 2: Citizen Development Lacks Quality and Reliability

Another prevailing myth is that applications created by citizen developers are inherently of lower quality and reliability compared to those developed by professional software engineers. Skeptics argue that citizen developers lack the necessary skills and expertise to produce robust and dependable software solutions.

Reality Check:

While it's true that citizen developers may not have the same level of technical knowledge as professional developers, this doesn't mean their creations are doomed to be subpar. Modern low-code and no-code platforms offer user-friendly interfaces and templates that guide citizen developers through the application development process. These platforms also incorporate best practices and security measures, reducing the risk of unreliable applications.

Furthermore, citizen developers often have a deep understanding of their specific work processes and needs, which can result in applications that are highly tailored to the organization's requirements. Quality assurance can be achieved through rigorous testing and collaboration with IT teams.

Myth 3: Citizen Development is Only for Simple Tasks

Some believe that citizen development is limited to creating simple, rudimentary applications and is not suitable for complex business processes. They argue that it's fine for automating minor tasks but inadequate for tackling more sophisticated challenges.

Reality Check:

Citizen development is not just for simple tasks; it can handle a wide range of complexity. Low-code and no-code platforms are continually evolving, providing tools and functionalities that cater to complex workflows and business processes. Citizen developers can build applications that integrate with existing systems, handle data analytics, and even support machine learning models.

The key is to provide adequate training and support to citizen developers, enabling them to take on more complex projects over time. With the right guidance and tools, citizen developers can make significant contributions to the organization's digital transformation efforts.

Myth 4: Citizen Development is a Passing Trend

Some skeptics view citizen development as a temporary buzzword that will eventually fade away. They argue that it's just a fad and not worth investing time and resources into.

Reality Check:

Citizen development is far from being a passing trend. In fact, it's gaining momentum as organizations recognize its potential to drive innovation, agility, and efficiency. The democratization of application development is aligning with the ever-increasing demand for digital solutions in the business world. As technology evolves, citizen development is likely to become an integral part of an organization's digital strategy.

Investing in citizen development now can position your organization for long-term success by empowering employees to contribute to digital initiatives and adapt to evolving business needs.

Myth 5: Citizen Development Leads to Shadow IT

Shadow IT refers to the use of unauthorized or unapproved software and applications within an organization. Some critics argue that citizen development can lead to an increase in shadow IT, with employees creating and using applications without proper oversight.

Reality Check:

While there is a potential for shadow IT to emerge in a poorly managed citizen development environment, it's not an inherent consequence of citizen development itself. To prevent shadow IT, organizations should establish clear governance and guidelines for citizen development initiatives. This includes defining which types of applications can be created by citizen developers, ensuring compliance with security and data privacy policies, and providing a platform for citizen developers to collaborate with IT professionals.


Citizen development is a powerful approach that can help organizations harness the creativity and expertise of their non-technical employees to drive digital innovation. By dispelling these five common myths, we hope to encourage a more informed and open-minded approach to citizen development. When implemented with the right strategies and tools, citizen development can enhance productivity, foster collaboration between IT and business units, and contribute to an organization's overall success in the digital age. Embrace the potential of citizen development and leverage it as a valuable asset on your journey toward digital transformation.

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Posted by Vivek Goel on: October 20, 2023 11:21 AM | Permalink

Comments (6)

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Zohaib Qadir System Administrator Picture Archiving and Communication System (PACS)| Peshawar Institute of Cardiology Peshawar, Kpk, Pakistan
Thanks a million for sharing.

Antonio Villarruel Project Management Coordinator| Saputo Inc. San Fernando, Buenos Aires, Argentina
Thanks for sharing

Donna Harvin-Graham Director, Financial Processes & Systems| American Psychological Association Washington, DC, USA
Citizen Development is the new wave of interest which makes this blog post very timely. Thank you for sharing!

Danny Seow Tokyo, Japan
I'm proud to be a Citizen Developer, and I think I create amazing value for the community. =)

Surupa Chakravarty Senior Business Consultant| PwC Toronto, Ontario, Canada
Thanks for sharing

Michael Browning Director, Cybersecurity| Vanderbilt University Nashville, USA
Great insight - thank you for sharing!

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