Project Management

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.

About this Blog


View Posts By:

Cameron McGaughy
Ron Immink
Jody Temple White
Mario Trentim
Jelili Odunayo Kazeem
Jason Mayall
Chandrasekaran Audivaragan
Ryan Whitmore
Kimberly Whitby
Justin Sears
Derya Sousa
Vivek Goel
Raveesh Dewan
Dalibor Ninkovic
Ian Gosling
Tara Leparulo

Past Contributors:

Elizabeth Jordan
Arjun Jamnadass
Rogerio Sandim
Martin Kalliomaki
Richard Earley
Maelisa Woulfe
Octavio Arranz

Recent Posts

5 Top Citizen Development Myths Busted

Empowering Citizen Developers: Overcoming 5 Common Challenges Together

Citizen Development: The Path to Success Starts Small

Can No-Code/Low-Code ERP Replace Traditional ERP Platforms?

No Code, Big Bucks: How Citizen Developers Can Capitalize on the Future of Tech 


Agile, Best Practices, best practices, Career Development, CD Canvas, Change Management, Citizen Developer, Citizen Development, Citizen development, citizen development, Communication, Digital Transformation, digital transformation, Documentation, Innovation, IT Project Management, LCNC, Leadership, Lessons Learned, Low-Code, myths, No-Code, no-code, No-code and Gen Z, PM Think About It, PMI, PMI Global Congress 2013 - North America, PMO, Portfolio Management, Program Management, Programs (PMO), Project Delivery, Project Management, project management, Risk Management, ROI, software development, Stakeholder, Strategy, Talent Management, Tools


Viewing Posts by Octavio Arranz

What You Need to Become a Citizen Developer

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)

Citizen Development Does Not End With Development - 4 Ways Organizations Will Maintain Applications


When citizen development is discussed, the focus tends to be on the empowerment of business users to create their own applications. However, there is a lack of available resources that detail how those applications should be maintained in contrast with traditional software.

Types of Applications

Applications which are managed by end-users have been around for a number of years. We refer to some of these applications as “Shadow IT”. Shadow IT apps are most of times maintained by their creators. There are discrepancies as to how tolerant organizations can be to Shadow IT’s existence (see Liz Jordan’s blog on Shadow IT for more detail: However, there is a general consensus in industry that Shadow IT is pernicious and occurs every time that software is created without having been sanctioned by the IT / Technology department.

Shadow IT is Pernicious

As a management consultant, I’ve come across organizations that have the necessary controls in place to prevent business users from creating Shadow IT applications. Others have a significant reliance of their business knowledge in Shadow IT applications, even without knowing. My point being, the maintenance of Shadow IT applications has been performed by the end users without the involvement of the IT / Technology department. And that’s a dangerous approach because these individuals usually don’t have the knowledge nor the tools to perform a proper holistic maintenance.

Maintenance for Citizen Development

Citizen development enables a new paradigm where maintenance tasks can be shared between Citizen Developers and the IT / Technology department. If I create an application that reduces some of my most tedious day-to-day activities by, let’s say 10% of my daily workday, I can dedicate some of that time to maintain and improve my application.

Different types of Maintenance

In the software development world, it is widely accepted that between 60-80% of the Total Cost of Ownership (TCO) for enterprise systems is dedicated to their maintenance and to keep them running. There are four maintenance types accounting for this 60-80% of TCO, being:

  • Corrective maintenance – Amend mistakes and/or bugs created during the development phase
  • Adaptive maintenance – Update the applications to be in tune with the organization’s wider environment or improve the applications’ running performance
  • Perfective maintenance – Upgrade the applications to include new functionalities
  • Preventive maintenance – Attend minor current issues that could cause more serious problems in the future

The essence of these tasks is no different than traditional IT tasks. However, the way these tasks are done and who performs them changes. Let’s take a look at how citizen development impacts each of these 4 maintenance types.

Corrective maintenance 

The Citizen Developer is the best placed individual to detect bugs, identify a solution and implement it. Detecting bugs at first-hand avoids having to request upgrades to the IT department and then observe how that request is put into a list of priorities. In the majority of cases, Citizen Developers can eradicate these bugs if they are a proficient using the selected Low-Code / No-Code platform.

Tip- create a Competency Centre (or similar internal body), able to guide Citizen Developers through the process of solving common development bugs. These can be put into procedures as the maturity of the organization with regards to citizen development evolves.

Adaptive maintenance

It seems difficult to envisage how citizen development could help improve adaptive maintenance from the point of view of the citizens. They usually do not have the knowledge, competency or permission to manage an IT operating environment. It is too risky to put technical, hardware or security changes (to name a few), in the hands of citizens.

Hence, the benefit of using citizen development with regards to adaptive maintenance comes when the environment is sanctioned and provided by your IT department. Firstly, because all the applications created in the business are centralised as a consequence of using sanctioned low-code/no-code platforms and can be addressed as a whole instead of performing ad-hoc maintenance. Secondly, the IT department now has control over some assets that were previously Shadow IT.

Perfective maintenance

Citizen Developers may want to include new functionalities in their apps. There is no need to wait for the IT department to prioritise your requirements when you can do it yourself. This will enhance deployment time and will help save some valuable resources in the IT department.

Preventive maintenance

It is difficult to get a glimpse of how preventive maintenance can benefit from citizen development. Having said that, citizen development initiatives will ideally be carried out following a set of best practices that enables better evolution and scalability of software. These guidelines can be governed either by the IT department or by a Competency Centre or similar body.

This takes us back to the idea of the IT department being a partner of the business that facilitates and controls the environment.


  1. Citizen Developers are best placed to perform corrective maintenance without the need to rely on the IT department.
  2. IT acting as a facilitator can agglutinate and centralise adaptive maintenance for a higher number of applications (some of those were previously Shadow IT).
  3. Citizen Developers speed up the process of perfecting applications, freeing capacity in the IT department so that they can continue to work on other priorities.
  4. Citizen Developers that follow best-practice guidelines when creating software will spawn a better future evolution and scalability of the apps created.


Citizen Development has the potential to help IT / Technology departments with their maintenance duties. As a result, there will be more control over the maintenance of IT assets in the organization as well as more capacity to take on other priorities, and an upskilled workforce will better understand the technology environment and how to take care of it.

Posted by Octavio Arranz on: February 17, 2021 12:22 PM | Permalink | Comments (6)

Why Citizen Development Can Be a Game Changer for NGOs and Public


Citizen development is an emerging trend that enables every person to create applications by using low-code / no code platforms. This new capability will change the way organisations and individuals work- for the better. Citizen development has the ability to reduce costs, increase productivity levels and reduce time to market.

There is a huge opportunity for Non-Governmental Organisations (NGOs) and Public Administrators to leverage Citizen Development.

The Nature of NGOs

NGOs operate under tight budgets. Generally speaking, they are dependent on donations to achieve their desired objectives.

Another characteristic of NGOs is their need to adapt and be flexible in critical situations such as social emergencies or even pandemics.

Opportunities to Leverage Citizen Development

There are many ways in which citizen development can be leveraged in order to improve NGO’s organizational landscape:

1.       Using citizen development, NGOs can support new organizational processes or substitute existing systems without spending a fortune.  

2.       It can enable NGOs to react to market dynamics in an agile manner by creating ad-hoc solutions which are grounded in citizen development apps.

3.       Citizen development can enable NGO’s to innovate in the way they reach to people in need much faster and at a fraction of the cost.

How Citizen Developers Can Help NGOs

There are a lot of ways in which citizen developers can help NGOs. Why not donate low code/no code applications to NGOs? Why not use your citizen developer skillset and donate your time to create solutions for these organisations?

The increase in use of citizen development opens up a new way of carrying out pro-bono projects for software developers. They can use their knowledge and skills to help NGOs. This it can be done at any level: local, regional or global.

If citizen development is used to leverage the social media reach of NGOs, it has the potential to become a greater enabler for impact. NGOs will then be able to adjust, iterate, learn and improve their in-house applications. 


Having read about how citizen development can help NGOs, imagine how it could transform public administrations and governments. The typical political lifecycle lasts 4 years. The first year of every government is spent on getting to know the administration’s landscape. The next 2 years are spent implementing policy and executing projects and the last year is reserved to prepare for the re-election.

Citizen Development Opportunities for Government

In an environment where IT systems are frequently obsolete and development cycles usually last longer than the two year term politicians have to implement and execute, citizen development is a great opportunity.

If public administrators adopt citizen development, policy implementation and project execution can be carried out on time and within budget. Citizen development can also facilitate the maintenance of systems upgrades when funding is difficult to find or the capabilities are not in house and cannot be outsourced.

Citizen development also presents an opportunity for politicians to strengthen their engagement with local communities. Utilising much shorter development cycles, well within their political terms, it allows them to connect with citizens and consult, gather feedback and ultimately make an improved impact during their term.

Particularly at a local level. Imagine citizens of local communities getting involved in the development of new policies and how those come to life in the form of applications. Citizen development indeed!

Use Cases

There are plenty of examples where citizen development has been leveraged by governmental bodies during the Covid-19 pandemic.

One good example is the book-your-spot in the beach app which was deployed in Spain. Another example is the Covid tracing solution in Ireland. Both applications were created during the summer of 2020. The former is a basic booking management system while the latter is a database with personal information (replacing spreadsheets, word documents and even paper).

These are not complex systems. However, they have had a significant impact on the control and evolution of the pandemic. If this doesn’t show how citizen development can be used by governmental bodies for the greater good of all citizens, what does?


Governmental bodies in Spain and Ireland have leveraged citizen development in order to satisfy the needs of their people. Both use cases are shareable among local, regional or national administrations.

They could even be made as an open source and replicated in the antipodes days, weeks or months later if the need arose. The good news is, such apps and solutions are already developed and available!

I expect that some countries will adopt several low code/no code platforms and use them to quickly develop niche solutions that might be scaled, changeable or re-used. These platforms can be used as a building block for more complex solutions.


It is evident that citizen development can be used to improve how organisations operate and react. A lot of articles have been created around the benefits that citizen development can bring to the business world in general.

This article sheds some insight into how citizen development can be used to increase the operational effectiveness of NGOs and public administrations. It shows how citizen development can leveraged to make a difference. There is a huge opportunity for NGOs and governmental bodies to adopt, innovate and scale citizen development in order to improve the wellbeing of many people and communities.

Posted by Octavio Arranz on: December 11, 2020 06:57 AM | Permalink | Comments (8)

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- Alice Roosevelt Longworth