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Citizen Development Insights

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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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Cameron McGaughy
Martin Kalliomaki
Ron Immink
Maelisa Woulfe
Arjun Jamnadass
Mario Trentim
Jody Temple White
Octavio Arranz
Jelili Odunayo Kazeem
Derya Sousa
Elizabeth Jordan
Rogerio Sandim
Richard Earley
Jason Mayall
Ryan Whitmore
Chandrasekaran Audivaragan

Recent Posts

How to Choose the Right Low-Code No-Code Software

My Experience of the Citizen Developer Practitioner Course (2 of 2)

Citizen Development Part 1: What Is It and Why Do We Need It?

My Experience of the Citizen Developer Practitioner Course (1 of 2)

Citizen Development Canvas: Paving the way to Hyper-Agility

How to Choose the Right Low-Code No-Code Software

Introduction

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.
 

Posted by Rogerio Sandim on: June 03, 2021 04:05 AM | Permalink | Comments (4)

My Experience of the Citizen Developer Practitioner Course (2 of 2)

My Experience of the Citizen Developer Practitioner Course (2 of 2)

My Objective
As stated in my proceeding blog: Blog 1 of 2, my primary objective of completing this course was to test whether I gained the tools and knowledge that I would need to create effective applications to solve problems. 

Course Structure
The Practitioner Course focuses on the “Do” sections of the Citizen Development Canvas; Project Delivery and Capability Development. 


                                           

The course contains 8 modules:

  1. Introduction
    • Project Delivery Modules
  2. Hyper Agile SDLC
  3. Ideation 2.0                                        
  4. Suitability Assessment
    • Capability Development Modules
  5. Business Analysis and Design
  6. Project Risks & Enterprise Risk Requirements                              
  7. Application Design, Development and Deployment
  8. Conclusion  

As the Practitioner course is quite extensive, I decided to split my critique into 2 separate blogs (this is the second, click here to read my critique of the introduction and Project Delivery modules). In this blog, I will outline my experience of the Capability Development and conclusion modules of the course. Let’s get started! :) 

Module 5 – Business Analysis and Design
Business Analysis and Design enables Citizen Developer Practitioners and other stakeholder’s, to gain a vital understanding of how potential citizen development applications will work within an organization. In essence, this module gives the Citizen Developer insight into a citizen development applications broader impact on the organization.

The learning objectives of this module were outlined at the outset, you will have learned:
1.    How to apply Business Analysis and Design processes
2.    How to utilize Business and Analysis and Design tools
3.    How to gather additional Business Analysis documentation

The learning objectives of this modules were easily achieved. During the lesson I was introduced to tools that are not only useful for a Citizen Developer but also a consultant and business analyst (e.g. Process Architecture Model). The tools and templates were very useful and valuable. The table below summarizes my favourite aspects of the module and one way in which I think the lesson could be improved.

Module 6 – Project Risks & Enterprise Risk Requirements
The Project Risks & Enterprise Risk Requirements module contains a section on project risks and then moves on to explain and explore enterprise risk requirements (functional and non-functional). As a systematic learner, I loved the flow of this lesson.

 

By the end of this module, you will have learned:
1.    How to identify and track project risks
2.    How to create a stakeholder management plan
3.    How to create a communications management plan
4.    How to identify and track project requirements
5.    How to identify and track enterprise risk requirements

 

This lesson was excellent – I feel I achieved the learning objectives. The information was concise yet thorough. I have experience working with enterprise risks, however, until now, I did not have context on enterprise risk requirements. This module taught me all about them. The examples that were included and the sample projects further developed my understanding. Some of my favourite aspects and an item I personally think could be improved in future iterations are outlined below.

Module 7 – Application Design, Development & Deployment  
The Application Design, Development and Deployment module aims to give the Citizen Developer the tools they will need to get from the design, development and deployment stages of an application. This lesson covers quiet an extensive amount of material. It goes into detail about important aspects of each stage. 

By the end of this module, you will have learned:
1.    To use a variety of tools and techniques that will help you design your application
2.    The steps involved in the application development process
3.    The training and support plans that help with user adoption
4.    The two levels of deployment for applications

 

This lesson was full of valuable information. In essence, it covered the critical aspects of application design, development and deployment. My advice to learners when they take this module is to do further research into each stage if they are eager to learn more. The table below summarizes my favourite aspects of the module and an item I personally think could be improved in the future.

Module 8 – Conclusion
Similar to the introduction module, the conclusion module does what it says on the tin! It is a concise lesson that summarizes what you learned throughout the Citizen Developer Practitioner course. During the conclusion, a high-level overview of each module was carried out. A sneak peak of the Citizen Development Maturity Model was also included.

I found the modular recaps very useful. The overarching premise of each lesson was reiterated which enforced the learning for me. Some of my favourite aspects and items I personally think could be improved are outlined below.

Hindsight
My primary objective of completing this course was to test whether I gained the tools and knowledge that I would need to create effective applications to solve problems. I can proudly say that I feel as though I achieved my objective :) .

Closing Summary
I thoroughly enjoyed the Citizen Developer Practitioner Course. Each module had a defined purpose and it is very clear how each area of the canvas should be carried out. The course is self-paced so take your time going through each modules (you don’t want to miss anything important). I’m looking forward to taking the Citizen Developer Practitioner micro-credential in the coming days. I hope you enjoyed this mini-blog series! If you would like to share your thoughts on the course, please leave a comment below :) . 
 

 

Posted by Maelisa Woulfe on: May 31, 2021 04:05 AM | Permalink | Comments (4)

Citizen Development Part 1: What Is It and Why Do We Need It?

In this series of five articles, I'll be taking a comprehensive look at citizen development, from getting started to governance to scaling. Of course, there are certain principles to citizen development upon most of us will agree, but at the same time, different types of organizations will naturally have different experiences to draw on. 

For that reason, I'm going to start with a basic overview of the key elements that make up citizen development – how we at Betty Blocks define it and why we're so passionate about supporting its adoption throughout enterprise organizations. 

 

What is citizen development? 

For the sake of clarity, this is how we define citizen development at Betty Blocks:  

"A strategic program in which a new breed of developer builds applications on a platform that is governed by IT." 

Note the governance part. It's something that we see lacking in citizen development definitions from time to time, but citizen development without governance is simply 'shadow IT'. 

 

How did we get to citizen development? 

The experienced developer shortage 

By now, we've all heard about the increasing experienced developer shortage. But what are we talking about in terms of actual numbers? Statistics on the number of people in the world who can code range from 0.3% to 0.5%. That means that at least 99.5% of us can't write code. 

Isn't that crazy? 

With how much we rely on software in our everyday lives, for work as well as for pleasure, you'd be forgiven for thinking that these numbers have to be wrong. Enterprise organizations, however, see the full picture all too clearly. 

Enterprise leaders understand these numbers because they see them directly reflected in the infamous and titanic backlogs – and titanic isn't a bad metaphor, considering the many tasks that spend so long on these backlogs they eventually sink into oblivion, as markets move on and render yesterday's ideas obsolete.

In fact, according to research by PMI, 86% of IT decision-makers site the greatest threat to digitally transforming their business as a shortage of developers. In other words, the demand for software is skyrocketing and there simply aren't – and won't be – enough experienced developers to fulfill this demand. 

The knock-on effect of this is that application delivery is too slow – far from ideal during the current pandemic, in which organizations need to speed up delivery to meet the rising demand for digital products and services. 

This leaves IT departments with their hands full just trying to keep daily operations running smoothly. And it leaves the business-side departments – customer services, sales, marketing, product, etc. – facing a roadblock in their need to modernize, adapt, and innovate. 

Shadow IT

Another reason we find ourselves in this brave new world of citizen development is shadow IT. I mentioned that many business-side employees, though dying to solve problems and innovate, are stuck, with no safe and effective way to realize their brilliant ideas. 

But that doesn't mean they won't try. 

Shadow IT is rife throughout enterprise organizations because when IT doesn't have the time to get the job done, the business side inevitably takes matters into its own hands. Although well-intentioned, this type of unsanctioned development leads to all sorts of problems, particularly in the areas of security, scalability, and maintenance. 

 

Working smarter 

There's more to citizen development than tackling the experienced developer shortage, the slow delivery time for applications, and the rising demand for software. 

As customers are able to shop around more easily and access a greater array of options – products, services, vendors – than ever before, organizations need to work smarter to stand out. What does working smarter mean? In this case, it means having the people that are closest to the problem play an active role in building the solution. 

If a customer service employee has a great idea for improving a customer-centered process, it makes sense to have them build the solution in an environment set up for citizen development success, under the governance of IT. Injecting that expert knowledge into the development process has, for many organizations, proven invaluable. 

 

The tech that makes it possible 

An effective citizen development platform should make development accessible to non-experienced developers whilst facilitating governance for central IT. This is the reason why no- and low-code platforms are the go-to tools for citizen development. 

Both platforms generally utilize visual, drag-and-drop interfaces, which lower the technical barrier to entry whilst making it easy for IT to set permissions and roles, ensuring everything is done safely. We'll take a closer look at no- and low-code platforms later in this series. 

 

Next time: Getting started with citizen development 

I've covered the main challenges that led to the birth of citizen development. I've covered how citizen development expands the developer pool, providing organizations with additional resources. I've touched on how citizen development invites business-side insight into the development process, making for better products and services. 

In the next article, I'll be taking a look at where organizations actually start with citizen development: The discovery phase. 

See you next time!  

Posted by Ryan Whitmore on: May 26, 2021 11:17 AM | Permalink | Comments (2)

My Experience of the Citizen Developer Practitioner Course (1 of 2)

My Experience of the Citizen Developer Practitioner Course (1 of 2)

Background
As a consultant, upskilling and advancing my knowledge on new technological advances is key. I have completed a lot of research on low-code/no-code, i.e., Citizen Development, to date.

My Citizen Development Experience so Far
In January, I completed the Citizen Developer Foundation Course because I wanted to learn the basics in terms of citizen development. I definitely achieved this objective! Click here if you would like to hear more about my experience of this course!

I gained adequate knowledge to progress to the Practitioner Course once I completed the Foundation. Although Foundation is not a mandatory pre-requisite, I recommend taking Foundation first if you would like to enhance your understanding of citizen development as a whole.

Similar to what I did for the Foundation Course, I’m now going to document my experience of the Citizen Developer Practitioner Course… here it goes!

My Objective
My primary objective of completing this course was to gain tools and knowledge to create effective applications to solve problems. I was interested in what these would be and how I could apply them in my role.

Course Structure
The Practitioner Course focuses on the “Do” sections of the Citizen Development Canvas; Project Delivery and Capability Development.


                                           

The course contains 8 modules:

  1. Introduction
    • Project Delivery Modules
  2. Hyper Agile SDLC
  3. Ideation 2.0                                        
  4. Suitability Assessment
    • Capability Development Modules
  5. Business Analysis and Design
  6. Project Risks & Enterprise Risk Requirements                              
  7. Application Design, Development and Deployment
  8. Conclusion  

As the Practitioner course is quite extensive, I am going to split my critique into 2 separate blogs (this is the first). In this blog, I will outline my experience of the introduction and Project Delivery modules of the course. Let’s dig in!

Module 1 - Introduction to Citizen Development
This module does what it says on the tin! It is a concise introductory module that lays the foundation for subsequent lessons. The narrator explains that the Citizen Development Canvas will act as the roadmap for each module in this course. The basics of the course were covered in this lesson:

1. Course Basics
How to navigate through the course and new course features were discussed. Items such as; tips from the field, downloads, sample projects and knowledge checks are unique additions to the Citizen Developer Practitioner Course. This section outlined what these features are and how to get the best out of each one.

2. Course Outcomes
Over the course of 8 modules, you will learn how to:

  1. Determine if your problem can be solved with a Citizen Development process
  2. Effectively brainstorm solutions
  3. Evaluate the challenges that your app must overcome
  4. Gather the data and resources you will need
  5. Bring your project to fruition

By completing the introductory module, I was content that I knew what to expect throughout the course. I have created a table that summarizes my favourite aspects of the module and a way in which I think the lesson could be improved in the future.

Module 2 - Hyper-Agile SDLC
As someone who had no prior knowledge or experience with the software development lifecycle (SDLC), I loved this module. The traditional SDLC was introduced, then Agile SDLC and the Hyper-Agile SDLC. As a structured learner, getting an overview of each SDLC enabled my understanding of the evolution of Hyper-Agile SDLC.

The learning objectives that were set out for this module were clear and to the point, by the end of this module, you will have learned:

  1. The SDLC, Agile and Hyper-Agile SDLC methods
  2. How to evaluate citizen development project proposals
  3. How to use Spot Assessments to decide if your project is right for citizen development
  4. The three Hyper-Agile SDLC citizen development paths

At the end of this lesson, I feel I met the learning objectives. The Spot Assessment was the most intriguing tool in this module. The primary objective of this tool is to assess whether citizen development is a good fit for your project or not. The tools that are used to evaluate the Spot Assessment are the Scorecard and the Risk/Technical Grid. Once both of these are complete, you will know whether to proceed using citizen development for your project or not! If your project is a good fit for citizen development, you can determine which Hyper-Agile CD Path to follow based on the risk/technical complexity of your project (Fast-Track, Assisted Path or IT Delivery). The table below summarizes my favourite aspects of the module and one way in which I think the lesson could be improved.

Module 3 - Ideation 2.0
I had completed the Ideation 2.0 module in the Foundation Course so I was prepared for this lesson in the Practitioner Course. New material and learning aids were added to this module in the Practitioner Course. These made the module even better in my opinion.

The learning objectives of this module were outlined at the outset, you will have learned:

  1. What Ideation 2.0 is
  2. How to develop your squad
  3. How to apply Ideation 2.0 Methods and create the relevant outputs

I thought this module was excellent in the Foundation Course. However, I would rate it even higher in the Practitioner Course. The learning objectives were easy to achieve during this module. Similar to Ideation 2.0 in the Foundation Course, the content in this module (mainly the methods and outputs) are structured in a logical way which made the content easily digestible. The addition of the “how to develop your squad” section was also very valuable.

Module 4 – Suitability Assessment
The Suitability Assessment module was very interesting. The primary aim of this module is to enable the Citizen Developer and related stakeholders to conduct an assessment on whether citizen development would be a good fit for a project (or not).

The learning objective of this module are outlined below. By the end of this module you will have learned:

  1. How to perform Suitability Assessments for citizen development projects
  2. How to use Suitability Assessment tools and techniques

One of my key takeaways from this module is that citizen development can transform your operations; when citizen development is a suitable fit. It is critical to remember that citizen development is not suitable for every project. I enjoyed this lesson and met the learning objectives. Some of my favorite aspects of the lesson and an item I personally think could be improved are outlined below.

My Conclusion
So far, I am really enjoying the Citizen Developer Practitioner Course. I love what I have learned so far. It will be interesting to see if the Capability Development modules of the Citizen Developer Practitioner Course will be as insightful. Once I have completed these modules, I will report back and publish part 2 of this blog series.

Posted by Maelisa Woulfe on: May 24, 2021 05:03 AM | Permalink | Comments (9)

Citizen Development Canvas: Paving the way to Hyper-Agility

By Mario Trentim

Hyper-agility seeks to drive an agile culture further, beyond the walls of any one product team or project, embedding it into the organizational DNA. To do that, it is necessary to combine new ways of work and to redefine how we think about application development since all value streams depend heavily on software in every industry.

In this article, I will describe the PMI Citizen Development Canvas, a definitive map for organizations looking to adopt and scale citizen development. The PMI CD Canvas was developed to:

  1. Bring clarity and guidance to the methods by which citizen development occur.
  2. Define the structures and competencies required to make it happen effectively.
  3. Establish the approach needed to introduce, scale, and manage citizen development within an enterprise.

Clarity and Guidance

Digital transformation and citizen development have been around for a decade or so now. Despite of technology advancements, the full potential of citizen development has yet to be realized. The challenge is that the organizations are not structured in ways needed to adopt and scale citizen development.

To embrace low-code and no-code is a fundamental shift to a mindset focused on empowering users. However, to empower users we need a new software development life cycle that is flexible and based on agile principles. We also need a framework to help citizen developers safely and securely build better applications.

Figure 1 – PMI Citizen Development Canvas (PMI.org)

The PMI CD Canvas has five key areas: Project Delivery, Capability Development, Operating Model, Organizational Alignment, and Maturity Model.

Ideation 2.0 provides orientation to start new initiatives by exploring ideas and generating mockups and enabling rapid application development. The citizen developer will be guided to channel value from real-time feedback and engagement with stakeholders.

As a quick and simple example, imagine you wanted to build a website a decade (or more) ago. You would sit with a project manager or business analyst to define requirements and scope that would be translated into a schedule to ultimately deliver your website some time later to be tested. By the end of the project, making changes would be a huge effort.

Now, imagine doing the same now. You would sit with a product owner to develop and prioritize features and stories. An agile team works on the prioritized features and stories in sprints, and you would have a chance to review the results on regular intervals, which is way better than the waterfall approach. What if you could get results even faster? That´s Ideation 2.0, and hyper-agility.

Structures and Competencies

“I understand citizen development works, how can I scale it?” is a question I hear more and more frequently. People are adopting Design Thinking, hackathons, and all types of inception and prototyping experiences. It works fine. But it is confined to a few areas in the organization. Why? Because there is no governance, and the capabilities are not in place.

To succeed in adopting and scaling citizen development, your organization needs to:

  1. Redefine rules of engagement with IT departments and TI personnel.

(Check out my previous articles about “The Doing and the Management of Doing”, “Shadow IT is not the Solution to Agility”, and “Digital Transformation Offices”)

  1. Reskill and upskill your workforce to equip them with the new competencies for the future of work, including digital literacy and citizen development proficiency.

(Check out my previous articles about “Citizen Development Skills for Life”, “Five Tips to QuickStart your Citizen Development Career” and “Why Go for a Citizen Developer Certification”)

  1. Develop new capabilities, as described in the PMI CD Canvas: Business Analysis & Design, Enterprise Risk Requirements, Application Development.

I will explain these foundational elements below.

A New Approach to Enable Hyper-Agility

It is possible that a citizen development application may cause more harm than good, causing extra work or confusion instead of solving a problem. That´s why citizen development practitioners need tools to design and develop their applications within the context of the business and the entire organization.

Business Analysis & Design, a core element to the PMI CD Canvas, provides a process architecture model focused on the wider implications of change across a suite of processes and applications to evaluate value creation.

The PMI CD Canvas takes into consideration functional and nonfunctional requirements, including underlying technologies, architectural landscape, and potential future usage. These, and other aspects, are carefully taken care of during the Hyper-Agile SDLC (software development life cycle), according to application development guidelines around designing and building data models, user-friendly interfaces, governance, and security.

In future articles, I will explore the Citizen Development Operating Model, Organizational Alignment, and Maturity Model. As you know, few organizations have taken citizen development to its maximum potential. So, I would like to conclude this piece with two questions:

  1. How successful is your organization in embracing Citizen Development?
  2. What could you do to help your organization and to advance in your profession?

 

Please leave your thoughts and share your experiences related to hyper-agility and citizen development.

Posted by Mario Trentim on: May 20, 2021 12:00 PM | Permalink | Comments (2)
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