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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
Ron Immink
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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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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)

Are citizen developers slated to outnumber professional coders? Let’s find out.

Gartner made a significant prediction at the virtual symposium for CIOs and IT leaders. By 2023, there will be at least four times as many active citizen developers at large businesses as professional developers.

For those who don’t know, a citizen developer creates software without receiving formal training in software development by leveraging no-code platforms and analytics tools to automate processes for themselves and their teams.

What is causing this shift in application development?

Essentially citizen developers are business users whose productivity is hampered by laborious, disjointed processes; as a result, they are more than prepared to improve routine operations through no-code development. They can create software to automate manual operations. They can design optimized workflows (automation sequences) by selecting from a list of pre-configured stages and placing them in a logical flow using the drag and drop feature of no-code platforms.

In a survey done by Forrester, 64% of business and tech leaders indicated that process automation is crucial to corporate strategy, supporting digital transformation and customer experience.

From a single no-code platform, citizen developers can build and customize administrative, data-tracking, and reporting tools. Typically, there are separate apps spread across many departments and go unnoticed by IT teams for each of these characteristics. IT teams may quickly monitor and maintain apps by using a single no-code platform to configure all of the applications.

Because of these reasons, a majority of businesses today rely on citizen developers to produce enterprise business software or applications specific to marketing, sales, HR, or other critical functions. These developers typically report to the IT department, and skilled/professional developers supervise their work to ensure the final product/outcome matches the standards.

Moreover, organizations are constantly pushing themselves to build operational and strategic agility for:

• Democratizing application development.
• Overcoming the lack of IT talent.
• Managing modest adjustments well.
• Implementing quick innovation cycles.
• Evaluating the risk and developing mitigation techniques.
• Encouraging citizen developers to creatively use technology and build custom applications with no-code platforms.
• Managing business turbulence brought on by changes in market dynamics, pressure from competitors, and COVID-19-like natural disasters

On the other hand, hyperautomation is on the rise, helping firms make it possible for non-programmers to create complex software. Most of the time, employers do not require prior software development training, although there are specific qualifications for this position.

Things to keep in mind while choosing non-programmers

• Business users who are or have been involved in time-consuming manual processes are known as citizen developers. Therefore, a person with practical experience working with paper-based processes and knowledge of the associated pain spots is the ideal candidate for citizen development.

• Although no technical knowledge is necessary to use no-code platforms, users must have a strong understanding of business logic to construct apps visually. As a result, this may be the second factor to consider when selecting your citizen developer.

• Because citizen development is carried out through a governance model and is not autocratic, an ideal candidate should also have a collaborative approach.

• Citizen developers are much more than just lone contributors. No-code development is not their primary responsibility; they must balance various tasks. Time management is thus yet another trait of a successful citizen developer.

• Business technologists or skilled, full-time developers or coders brought into departments like operations, finance, accounting, or marketing are ideal candidates for citizen development.

Citizen Developers are breaking stereotypes

To automate business processes and data integration, Gartner firmly believes that businesses must collaborate with experts outside of IT. This essentially ends reliance on software development teams.

Additionally, it stated that businesses should reject the idea that the work of citizen developers is easy and non-critical. Most citizen developers actively work on developing new features, user interfaces, and algorithms.

Hyperautomation has played a key role in the success of citizen developers

Gartner defines hyper-automation as a business-driven, focused approach that businesses need to identify, enhance, and automate their enterprise processes rapidly. Because hyperautomation has so much potential and entails many possibilities, relying solely on traditional coders and IT teams will never produce the desired results. Enterprises have quickly realized this and have been proactively training more employees to become citizen developers.

Organizations are no more holding themselves back from realizing enterprise-wide process management and workflow automation. As most of them are adopting a hybrid workforce model, it becomes imperative to encourage non-technical employees toward citizen development and reduce the burden of IT teams already stressed out with simple troubleshooting.

Enterprises are actively investing in citizen developers to democratize and pace up innovation – enabling UI/UX designers, business analysts, and marketers to build priority-specific applications without writing a single line of code. They are trying to nurture code-agnostic development teams with the help of no-code platforms.

Just like the future of coding is no coding, the end of automation is no-code automation. Organizations are stretching themselves to achieve end-to-end automation while rooting for a hybrid workforce model (where the availability of IT resources will always be a matter of concern). Citizen development is evolving and providing a fantastic opportunity for business and IT leaders to fulfil their primary strategic goals, the most significant of which is enterprise-wide automation.

The rise of citizen developers aligns with the rise of digital-first organizations

Organizations are going full throttle in digitization by investing heavily in low-code and no-code tools to build various applications. They are building teams, for example, a team of citizen developers, that rely on agile methods to integrate critical operating units with the IT organization, augmented by a set of new digital roles that are helping in value creation. The idea behind establishing such teams is to promote innovation and value generation by focusing on:

• Using analytics to assess operations and performance before taking action based on the findings.

• Using agile principles to test and deploy new hardware and software.

• Building and delivering new digital processes and solutions for field operations along with back-office processes (that can be standardized and scaled across businesses).

There are a lot of examples and trends that indicate the growing popularity of citizen developers. Can they outnumber traditional developers? It doesn’t seem a remote possibility anymore and is as accurate as it can get.

Posted by Vivek Goel on: August 12, 2022 02:00 AM | Permalink | Comments (5)

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)

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 (3)

CITIZEN DEVELOPMENT: A SURE PATHWAY TO DIGITAL TRANSFORMATION

Citizen Development (CD) describes the ability for a user, the citizen developer, to create applications without coding expertise, significantly faster, and at a fraction of the cost. Citizen Development platforms have matured to the point that they minimize the need for manual coding when building serious, enterprise-grade applications.

Forrester estimates that by 2024 there will be a deficit of 500,000 software developers in the U.S. alone. No doubt, there is a vacuum, a problem to be solved.

PMI, however, came to the rescue and has developed and launched the world's first vendor-agnostic governance framework for Citizen Development (PMI Citizen Developer TM).

This is to expand the Project Managers toolkit and guide developers and organizations to take full advantage of the benefits of CD while maintaining IT governance and security compliance to enhance project success.

Forrester estimates that by 2024 there will be a deficit of 500,000 software developers in the U.S. alone.

Forrester also forecasts that the low-code market will top $21 billion spend by 2022.

The Power of Solution Is at the Core of the Business Now

With Low-Code/No-Code (LCNC), a project manager or any citizen developer can transform ideas into action solutions, services can be delivered cheaper and faster. These LCNC platforms are growing daily, and so are the needs to develop cheaper apps, products, and services in less time.

Any organization that gives Citizen Developers the opportunities to bring ideas to life using LCNC platforms is surely on its way to digitally transform itself. Ideas abound, the tools are now in the hands of the people (employees), and business processes are more flexible. The power to offer solutions is in the hands of those at the core of business processes to deliver results faster.

The pandemic has shown that businesses must respond rapidly to situations. Digital transformation has taken the front seat for most processes.  Businesses can’t afford weeks and months to come up with solutions. Time-to-market is more reduced now. Businesses are under pressure to optimize processes and deliver quick products/services in less time.

Digital Transformation through Citizen Development

LCNC supports digital transformation, creates more opportunities, grows the business with new ideas, and increases productivity. When you give the people all the tools and the flexibility to bring ideas to life, the organizational growth and digital transformation will be massive.

The speed at which apps, products, and services are delivered using LCNC platforms shown that it is easier to automate business processes and quickly achieve digital innovation.

This is because Citizen Developers do not have to spend time on apps development rules and other time-consuming aspects of apps development. Citizen Developers are bringing major changes to how organizations work:

  1. They provide the capacity to IT teams as they can take on app development requests themselves.
  2. They, as domain experts, have the potential to solve an organization's challenges fast and effectively.
  3. They increase the productivity of the organization.
  4. They reduce time-to-market for their organizations and clients.

This is because CD enables businesses to keep up with the rapidly changing technology landscape using LCNC platforms to digitally transform the organization.

Here is what other companies have done with citizen development using LCNC platforms. These are clear validations of the citizen development revolution.

Citizen development is delivering digital transformation.

How has your organization been digitally transformed using LCNC? Please share.

Posted by Jelili Odunayo Kazeem on: March 01, 2021 11:47 AM | Permalink | Comments (1)
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