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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
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Derya Sousa
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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 

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Viewing Posts by Derya Sousa

Empowering Project Professionals in Construction: The Benefits of Citizen Development

Construction and engineering project managers and professionals face many challenges in delivering projects on time, within budget, and to the highest standards of quality. With increasing pressure to streamline work processes and maximize efficiency, many are turning to citizen development as a solution. 

Citizen development, which involves using low-code / no-code platforms to develop custom software applications, can help construction and engineering project professionals achieve their goals more effectively and with greater ease.  

According to a Forrester report, there are several benefits to adopting modern process management platforms to the Construction and Engineering organizations. It empowers co-operation with internal and external collaborators, invites various types of stakeholders into critical business processes and serves remote workforces by eliminating reliance on paper-based tasks. (Forrester report, Optimize Cross Organizational Content and Process-Rich Apps for Construction and Engineering Firms, February 19, 2021). 

By empowering project professionals to take control of software development, citizen development can help them streamline their work processes, integrate data from multiple sources, and quickly respond to changing requirements. 

If you are a project professional in construction or engineering you may have some of these goals in your agenda:

  1. Delivering projects on time and within budget: Meeting project timelines and keeping costs under control may be key priorities for you like many others. 

  1. Ensuring high standards of quality: aiming to deliver projects that meet or exceed quality standards, ensuring that they are safe, durable, and functional. 

  1. Minimizing risk and ensuring compliance: managing risk throughout the project lifecycle, from design to construction and operation. This includes managing technical, financial, and regulatory risks. 

  1. Enhancing collaboration: Effective collaboration between all stakeholders, including designers, contractors, and owners, is essential to the success of construction and engineering projects. 

  1. Integrating new technology: aiming to embrace new technologies that can improve project delivery, such as Building Information Modelling (BIM) and advanced digital tools. 

  1. Improving sustainability: Sustainability is becoming an increasingly important consideration for construction and engineering professionals, who must find ways to minimize the environmental impact of their projects and improve energy efficiency. 

These goals are all interrelated and must be balanced to deliver successful construction and engineering projects. By focusing on these key priorities, you can help ensure the success of their projects and meet the needs of your stakeholders. 

Citizen development, can bring many benefits to you, including:  

  1. Improved efficiency: Citizen development can help streamline work processes, integrate data from multiple sources, leading to improved efficiency and productivity. 

  1. Better collaboration: Citizen development you to develop custom applications that meet your specific needs, improving collaboration and communication between team members. 

  1. Increased flexibility: With low-code platforms, you can quickly and easily develop new applications and make changes to existing ones, without having to rely on IT teams or outside developers. This increases their flexibility and responsiveness. 

  1. Lower costs: By streamlining work processes and improving efficiency, citizen development can help lower project costs and increase profitability. 

  1. Empowerment of project professionals: Citizen development empowers you to take control of software development, enabling them to create custom applications that meet your specific needs. 

  2. Faster innovation: Citizen development enables faster innovation, allowing you to quickly adopt new technologies and advanced digital tools.

    These are some of the many benefits construction and engineering project professionals experience from citizen development by maximizing efficiency and improving results.  

 

 

As a low code / no code technology provider in the market, one of the areas we have seen that project managers in construction are looking to streamline and ensure compliance is Environmental, Health and Safety tasks so that they can improve how this function is managed and identify incidents faster, spot patterns sooner, and avoid the risk of accidents recurring. 

This is why recently we launched a new product Kianda EHSwise for construction which enables you to quickly and easily deploy applications to improve environmental, health and safety management with industry specific platform capabilities.  

 

When evaluating industry specific technology solution is if the solutions will provide specialized features?

In a recent report, where Kianda was included, one of the critical factors Forrester recommends to considerer when evaluating industry specific technology solution is if the solutions will provide specialized capabilities.  

These specialized solutions often include critical capabilities that may not be in generic platforms. For example, solutions that must work in no- or low- bandwidth environments like construction and engineering, require robust offline capabilities. 

“Many solutions do not allow people to run operations while offline. They revert to paper to do it later in the office.” (Kianda, Forrester report, Low- Code Platforms Are Going Vertical, November 10, 2022)  

Offline capability allows you to submit all your EHS processes, perform inspections, record events and submit approvals in real-time and on the go weather you have connection or not. Helping construction and engineering project managers and professionals improve health and safety performance, automate key processes, and reduce the risk of human error.  

This is just one of many areas where Citizen Development empowered by low-code / no-code platforms can help construction and engineering to move beyond manual processes and leverage modern technologies to improve their operations and embrace digitalisation successfully. 

Posted by Derya Sousa on: February 06, 2023 12:06 PM | Permalink | Comments (3)

How Citizen Development Empowered by Low-Code/No-Code is Going to Unleash Innovation

How Citizen Development Empowered by Low-Code/No-Code is Going to Unleash Innovation
 

We are at a time where technology is constantly evolving. Markets are increasingly becoming more competitive and the availability of skilled software developers appears almost non-existent. However, despite the drought in programmers, the demand to create or maintain business applications still stands and is stretching beyond organisational capabilities.

In fact, Forrester states that by 2024, there will be a total shortage of 500,000 software developers in the United States alone, (How to Harness Citizen Developers to Expand Your AD&D Capacity, Forrester Research, Inc., April 19, 2017).

Is this surprising to me? The answer to this, not really. Certainly, depending solely on traditional software development is not a stable strategy to address organisational demands, not to mention the high costs and long waiting times associated with it.

I believe we are at the beginning of a new era and that the way digital systems are created is changing forever. Technology has significantly evolved in recent years, so much so that even the most complex applications or critical systems can be changed easily without writing any code.

With this shift, we will increasingly see the democratisation of digitalisation that will enable people from different backgrounds to build those systems.

This is going to be the era that unleashes a stream of innovation not seen before.

Innovation

And this is where citizen development plays a key role.

So, for someone who is embarking on the citizen development journey, I can tell you that citizen development has one mission; to propel the rapid adoption of digital technologies which defines the main role of citizen developers.
 

Why is citizen development on the rise?

We are at a stage where many organisations quickly adopted new technologies during COVID to move their business forward. Low-code/no-code development platforms have been among those technologies that helped companies to quickly connect their people, processes and technologies.

Since this has been appealing to many and it has brought quick outcomes, reverting back to the old ways once COVID is over is not really an option. When used right, technology can play an integral part in improving user engagement, productivity, communications and more.

Citizen development allows organisations to address some of the main pain points of delivering technology such as long waiting times, overloading IT teams and expensive outsourcing.

According to Gartner, 61% of organisations either have or intend to implement citizen development. This move reflects the rising popularity that citizen development is receiving. But, why are leaders paying so much attention to it?

Citizen development is the answer and testament to an organisation’s desire to “deliver more with less resources”.

Its growing popularity comes down to driving productivity while allowing companies to save resources. On the plus side, it allows companies to stay competitive and combat the scarce availability of IT talent by empowering citizen developers to address their organisations digitalisation needs themselves.

Not only does citizen development alleviate the pressure on IT departments but it also speeds up software development life-cycles, offering business processes faster time to market. Additionally, organisations are receiving greater efficiencies by creating a space for non-technical employees to continuously innovate and drive digital transformation.

The prominently increasing adoption of citizen development is not surprising considering the benefits that can be attained.
 

Who is citizen development for?

Citizen development is for anyone within an organisation who is keen to teach themselves basics of low-code/no-code and become an expert in the field. It is for anyone who is willing to work in a fast-growing sector that will accelerate the way companies address the needs of both customers and employees.

The benefits of citizen development are compelling for obvious reasons. It is a great way for someone to skill-up in the long-term and take their part in shaping the technology.

The low-code/no-code movement continues to gain momentum and you can be part of it too.

However, it is important to execute any citizen development initiatives with some factors in mind. There are certain elements one should pay attention to, in order to successfully nurture a culture of citizen developers to generate the best outcomes.
 

4 Factors That Will Foster a Successful Culture of Citizen Development

1. Governing Shadow IT

Providing access to systems and tools to employees outside of IT certainly permits them to be innovative and reduce the pressure on IT departments. With that said, it shouldn’t mean that non-IT users should develop software on their own initiative without input from IT as this can cause an array of problems such as security risks, slow deployment and so on.

Instead, the standard procedures that already exist in an organisation when it comes to change management and deployment of new solutions, should as well apply to citizen development initiatives.

IT departments should create a controlled environment to prevent shadow IT from occurring. That way, IT can either oversee citizen development projects or actually collaborate with citizen developers to minimize risk and ensure security and control.
 

2. User-first approach

A user-first approach is one of the great ways to avoid shadow solutions in an organisation. Getting user feedback early and often, making sure to stay laser focussed on all type of users throughout the development of solutions is crucial for success.

To be able to deliver solutions with a user-centric approach, you need to choose the right tool that is flexible and allows you address your unique requirements.
 

3. Choosing your tool

Investing some time to choose the right tool from the beginning is really important. A tool should be chosen on the basis that it suits your individual requirements and the people who will be using it.

Low-code and no-code terms more or less sound similar. However, there are some differences. As the name suggests, low-code development platforms still require a certain level of coding and therefore, are more suitable for those who obtain a certain degree of knowledge in programming.

No-code development platforms don’t require any coding or require very little coding and essentially empower any innovator with or without technical knowledge to create applications.

In short, low-code empowers mostly IT departments to speed up software development in order to create applications at a faster pace. On the other hand, with no-code, both IT and non-IT professionals can build digital solutions which ultimately accelerates software development.

Choose a tool that can integrate with your existing systems, that is flexible, allows you to adapt and does not create limitations.
 

4. Training and supporting citizen developers

Preparation is key. Low-code/no-code tools primarily focus on user experience and are mostly easy-to-use. However, it is important to train and mentor citizen developers to adopt the standard toolset to facilitate their confidence, development of new skills and techniques and their accomplishments in developing applications.

Delivering valuable assistance and encouraging non-technical developers will help them to stimulate innovation, enjoy the experience and create powerful applications for the business.


What’s next for citizen development?

Traditional software development has been around for many decades and will be around for many more. Both no-code and custom coding will take their part in the implementation of future technologies. Companies will still need custom coding.

However, citizen development will grow with the goal of allowing rapid delivery of solutions that sit closer to end users. Over time, solutions that are built by citizen developers will make up the larger chunk of the solutions build within an organisation.


Adoption of citizen development initiatives has transformed how organisations respond to inefficiencies and has been driving digital transformation for many in the recent years.

More and more organisations will realise that promoting citizen development equates to governance, simultaneously prevents shadow IT and ultimately democratises digitalisation.

 

 

Posted by Derya Sousa on: April 14, 2021 07:37 AM | Permalink | Comments (6)

Citizen development: Critical Success Factors for Implementing Low-Code/No-Code Enterprise Applications

Citizen development: Critical Success Factors for Implementing Low-Code/No-Code Enterprise Applications

The idea of business users building their own solutions is not necessarily new. People have been self-building a myriad of solutions for decades. Albeit in recent years, citizen development enabled by technologies such as low-code/no-code tools have created better, more agile and sustainable ways to build more flexible solutions.

According to Gartner’s “Magic Quadrant for Enterprise Low-Code Application Platforms” research, by 2024, developing apps with low-code tools will account for approximately 65% of all application development. Certainly, this reflects not only the rise in low-code platforms but also, the adoption of a citizen development approach to developing business applications.

The emerging and growing adoption of citizen development is a great opportunity for organisations to respond to some of the obstacles associated with traditional software development. Delayed solution deliveries due to the lack of resources and high costs of implementing new systems are the two main issues citizen development can address.

Citizen development helps overcome these issues counteractively by empowering users with or without programming knowledge to create enterprise applications. With that said, the degree of success when implementing LCNC technologies ultimately depends on certain factors.

What are the critical success factors of implementing low-code/no-code technologies?

Organisations that understand the power of low-code/no-code technologies are captivated by the positive outcomes generated by citizen development. However, the absence of an implementation strategy to successfully adopt LCNC tools can create significant setbacks for companies.

For instance, some organisations get stuck in an experimental mindset with the fascination of the new technologies that they are adopting. As a result, they overlook the initial reason for adoption in the first place and have no sense of direction on where their digitalisation journey is going.

There are three fundamental factors to consider when adopting LCNC technologies: Technology, People and Continuous Improvement.

Critical success factors for implementing LCNC

1- Technology

The choice of any new technology is always a complex decision to make for any organisation. It requires a lot of research by teams that are usually under tight timelines. So they might end-up looking at the wrong kind of information and choosing the wrong technology for the task.

We are at a time where the technology you adopt today needs to be able to evolve with you tomorrow.

Therefore, approaching this decision-making process without a bird’s-eye view only exposes you to potentially wrongful choices.

In my experience this choice has an immense weight on the success of any no-code/low-code digitalisation project. I see 3 main reasons why companies fail to choose the right technology:

         1- Lack of flexibility

A major point of consideration regarding flexibility is who the platform is intended for. Low-code technologies may be a bit more suitable for IT professionals, helping them to shorten software development cycles and gain faster time-to-market. No-code tools on the other hand empower non-IT professionals/citizen developers to quickly and easily create enterprise applications, essentially freeing up time in the IT department.

While low-code and no-code have their differences with regards to programming requirements, each provider has its own individual differentiations. A tool without flexibility can provide a major source of complication and stress for teams. Even worse, it might only be discovered in later stages of building a solution. This often leaves teams having to fight or “hack” the platform.

It is important to choose something that not only provides the typical building blocks that no-code platforms offer, but that also provides the flexibility to build new building blocks in case the need arises.

       2- Require a combination of tools to complete a task

Some existing low-code and no-code technologies that are available to help create enterprise applications require multiple tools to be put together just to provide the final product teams need.

As an example, you could have one tool for workflow, one tool for forms or interface development and another separate tool for process monitoring or analytics.

Although individually those tools work well, it creates the need for a higher degree of abstraction, architectural thinking and unforeseen incompatibilities or delays in building these digital solutions.

So, you might have initially adopted a low-code or no-code development platform for one or all of the following reasons:

  • Reap the substantial cost saving benefits
  • Shorten software development life-cycles
  • Save time for more complex projects

However, working across a variety of separate tools can very much reverse the benefits. The delays that can occur due to the incompatibilities between the multiple tools can in actuality incur additional operational costs, extend the software development cycles and prevent any time from being preserved.

Therefore, it is vital to endorse a low-code or no-code tool that will allow you to efficiently complete tasks within a single platform.

        3- Difficulty handling complex projects

Many no-code solutions follow a flowchart visualization methodology for building the actual solution. This works well when solutions are simple in nature. However, when it grows in complexity with many conditional branches and condition groups it becomes hard to visualize and maintenance becomes a challenge in itself.

Essentially, you should adopt a low-code or no-code development platform that is capable of navigating complexities.

2- People

Closely involving the right people in any business project or task is vital in order to generate best outcomes. No-code tools in particular reduce the gap in between the implementer and end-users of a business process. As a result, this creates an opportunity for a different composition of teams collaborating on projects.

Retrieving successful results when implementing no-code or low-code tools greatly depends on two aspects:

  • Knowing your process

Stakeholders involved in a process must understand the process inside and out. The more in-depth knowledge into the process, the better the performance will be and the easier it will be to maintain long-term.

  • Preparing in advance

Before conducting any task in a business, it is imperative to approach the task knowingly and prepared. Thorough planning will assist with delivering a successful implementation and deployment.

3- Continuous Improvement

Lastly, maintenance is key.

Continuous improvement spans across the technology, the people and the process in question. Any project that you implement will require upkeep and much course correction. Fortunately, low-code/no-code technologies are easy to maintain.

Choosing a provider that allows you to be fast and pro-active will make improving processes much easier. Ensure that the technology allows you to be agile. The ability to build new features and test in multiple environments and even deploy those changes to a single process instance can be crucial.

Conclusion

In today’s competitive market, organisations are constantly seeking better approaches to addressing their digitalisation needs. IT departments continuously face high volumes of requests and demands, followed by mountains of pressure to complete these tasks.

No-code and low-code technologies are the answer to relieve these pressures by enabling citizen development to drive innovation. When this is implemented in the right way, the benefits for organisations are numerous.

Have you adopted a low-code or no-code solution? If so, please feel free to share your success below.

Posted by Derya Sousa on: March 17, 2021 11:44 AM | Permalink | Comments (6)

How Citizen Development Bridges the Gap Between IT and Business

In the past, programming and software development skills were restricted to IT professionals only. Lengthy software development cycles coupled with long waiting times created many issues for organisations. However, times are changing.

The demand to simplify and shorten software development cycles has led to the exponential and continuous growth of Citizen Development with the use of low-code and no-code (LCNC) development platforms.

Who is a Citizen Developer?

A Citizen Developer is essentially a business user who can build applications without requiring programming knowledge. From HR departments to Finance, citizen development creates a space for any business user to optimize an existing business process or improve their day-to-day productivity with low code or no code technology that is sanctioned by IT.

Moreover, it empowers users to drive innovation in a cost-effective and timely manner by reducing application development life-cycles. 

The idea of end-users self-building digital solutions is not new.

However, organisations’ understanding of the power of citizen development is increasingly becoming familiar. Organisations who have adopted this approach have improved resilience, user experience and their responsiveness to the ever-changing market demands.

In fact, Gartner states, by 2023 the quantity of citizen developers within larger enterprises will be, at a minimum, 4 times the number of professional developers.

Low-code and no-code tools accelerate Citizen Development

Before LCNC development platforms, non-IT departments solely depended on IT for new solutions. For example, people in an organisation who needed solutions to do work more efficiently would need to wait for months or sometimes years for IT to deliver solutions.

Back-logs of requests, shortages of software developers and long waiting times are only some of the issues that can arise and cause serious disruptions in any business.

Citizen development powered by no code and low code technologies enables rapid development and deployment from business users in an agile manner, something previously difficult to achieve with traditional software development approach.

No-code and low code platforms allow users to focus on creating applications by using a toolset of prebuilt components, rules and actions, rather than developing everything from scratch.

Not only does citizen development accelerate innovation, but also it increases overall efficiencies.

In effect, citizen development offers a real opportunity for IT and the rest of the business to work collaboratively.

Citizen development

Citizen Development closes the gap between IT and Non-IT departments

An effective and IT-approved low-code or no-code technology can seal the skill gap between professional developers and citizen developers.

Typically, there has always been a gap between the implementer of a technical solution and the business user who has the business knowledge.

Knowing the requirements, it makes sense for said business user to create the application to address these particular requirements.

With a user-friendly development environment, citizen developers can easily build applications themselves and if and when, a project becomes too complex, they can simply invite a professional developer to help. 

Citizen development reduces workload on IT teams, essentially freeing them to focus on more complex projects that indefinitely require technical skills. Not to mention, the ability for citizen developers to take projects off from IT hands reduces back-logs of required solutions and speeds up the application development process.

In addition, the utilisation of low-code and no-code platforms can provide stakeholders equal insight into the application development process. Many LCNC platforms can give IT visibility into the development process of an application by a business user. This governs shadow IT as it provides an opportunity for IT teams to monitor and control quality and security.

What Does Citizen Development Mean for Organisations?

The demand for business applications is certainly increasing as more companies seek new ways to boost productivity while reducing costs. With that said, IT cannot do it alone.

While professional developers and IT departments are the typical experts, traditional software development is simply too time-consuming.

In past years, to address a company’s digitalisation needs, it was routine to hire a team of software developers and spend large budgets on multi-year implementation projects. Only to come to a conclusion that still, despite investing a considerable quantity of time and money, efforts did not address the core needs of the business.

The flexibility of LCNC tools enable organisations to address their individual digitalisation needs by enabling business users to create new applications and adjust these applications as the requirements evolve.

Acquiring this level of internal power allows quick and easy digitalisation of typical business processes in quality, HR, finance and other departments.

In addition, leveraging talent in-house brings better control over operational costs. Organisations do not need to outsource software development or hire additional IT staff. Instead, IT and business can effectively work together to produce better outcomes.

By 2022, Forrester expects the low-code/no-code market to reach $21.2 billion. Certainly, this reflects the speed that LCNC development platforms are growing at.

I believe organisations will adopt citizen development because it is compelling. It opens up a whole new world of opportunities for digital innovation.

Do you think it is important for organisations to adopt a citizen development approach today? Does your organisation already have a citizen development approach?

Posted by Derya Sousa on: February 11, 2021 08:21 AM | Permalink | Comments (4)
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