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
Vivek Goel
Derya Sousa
Justin Sears
Raveesh Dewan
Dalibor Ninkovic
Ian Gosling
Kimberly Whitby
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


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 (

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 (3)

Agile and Citizen Development

By Mario Trentim

Agile and Citizen Development

In this article, I will guide you through a journey that combines agility and citizen development. Volatility, Uncertainty, Complexity, and Ambiguity add up to the VUCA world, posing new challenges to the organizations. As globalization and transformations changed the outside world, organizations embraced agile practices to adapt.

More recently, the next generation of business evolved into Brittleness, Anxiety, Nonlinearity, and Incomprehensibility, resulting in the new BANI world.

Combining VUCA and BANI means a whole new playing field and Agile frameworks like Scrum are not enough to build agile organizations.

The Agile Revolution

In a previous article, I explained the early days of project management. At that time, most organizations operated in models from the 19th century, typically hierarchical and prescriptive. It was a time when the change was slow. Consequently, organizations had plenty of time and resources to go for waterfall approaches. For example, if you compare NASA and SpaceX, you will find two great organizations with very different methods.

I am not advocating that one is better than the other. The context is different, and we have a new project environment, innovations in technology and management, and the world changed. NASA started with traditional approaches to management and project management, and it evolved from there. SpaceX started with agile methods, flexible with scope, focusing on speed in development and lean approaches.

When I go back to the Agile Manifesto, it looks to me that agile approaches were the answer to external changes. Engaging with stakeholders and delivering working products (or software) needed a new way of work to respond to change. Without the waterfall constraints, teams and organizations were suddenly free to experiment, learn, and co-create value with stakeholders to co-create value.


The Agile Revolution emphasized

adaptive versus predictive.


A decade ago, Jurgen Appelo published the book Management 3.0, sharing insights grounded in modern complex systems theory to help in scaling and advancing agile management. In summary, management 1.0 describes scientific management approaches from the 19th century, typically hierarchical and prescriptive. As organizations evolved, management 2.0 evolved to objectives and key results, meritocracy, and organizational alignment around business models. Finally, management 3.0 advocates that autonomous teams, distributed, hybrid, and virtual, need a different environment to thrive.


Agile is not the fastest way anymore.


VUCA and BANI mentioned before are not buzzwords. These are attempts to make sense of the rapid pace of changes and the digital transformation turmoil accelerated by the 2020 pandemic. The Cynefin Framework, created by Snowden and Boone, is a sense-making framework to help us in navigating a variety of situations to make decisions.

Figure 1 – Cynefin framework (


If we were better equipped to deal with external changes because of agile approaches, Cynefin framework, and more, it all changed when internal changes surpassed external changes. 2020 will be remembered as the year of hyper-agility.


Citizen Development

Think for a moment that very few organizations were prepared for the full-time remote work. Even agile approaches had to be reinvented because you cannot use daily meetings and information radiators as you did in a physical environment.

Although there was a significant number of remote workers in the past, organizations were focused on in-person first work. That means organizational structures, organizational architecture, communications, decision-making, and more assumed that we had physical spaces, headquarters, and in-person work for the things that were “important.”

In other work, most people working from home were even part-time employees, freelancers, outsourced workers. Full-time employees were not working from home permanently. Remote work has always been peripheral to in-person work until the pandemic.

Because of the pandemic, we had no choice but to embrace remote work. A remote-first organization needs to decentralize decisions to a myriad of distributed teams.

Figure 2 – Disciplined Agile


While Disciplined Agile provides principles, guidelines, and a complete toolkit for organizations to create their Way of Work, Citizen Development enables these organizations to build applications to support their work, embedding intellectual property from flexible and adaptable processes into low-code platforms with governance and security.

Figure 3 – Citizen development and technology abstraction


Hyper-agility is the new normal as a result of the digital transformation accelerated because of the 2020 pandemic. To understand the implications of hyper-agility, think for a moment about your organization´s business model, capabilities, and systems. Imagine you work for a large manufacturer. In the past, you would need a couple of months to go through the cascade of choices (Figure 4) or any other strategic planning approach. Once you reviewed and prioritized a roadmap of initiatives, it would take even more time to build or rethink the capabilities, developing and implementing new scalable systems.

Figure 4 – Playing to Win (Lafley and Martin, 2013)


Right now, citizen development allows you to do the same job in weeks. You can check the successful case studies here, for example. Hyper-agility means that organizations have now to change from the inside. Adapting to the external context is not enough.

Citizen development allows you to learn, experiment, innovate, build, deploy, and service new applications as you discover new ways of work and value streams with the support and help of business users and stakeholders.


Let me know how your organization is embracing Citizen Development in the comments below.

Posted by Mario Trentim on: May 13, 2021 12:00 PM | Permalink | Comments (1)

Why Go for Citizen Developer Certification?

By Mario Trentim

Citizen development is not something that´s far out in the future. We now live in an era of hyper-agility that demands citizen development skills to innovate, and the modern workplace and digital businesses require cultivating citizen development to maximize digital dexterity.


Citizen developers are in high demand in all

professions and roles.


Figure 1 – Anyone can be a developer (Gartner, 2019)


Although, in theory, anyone can become a citizen developer (Figure 1), it is not easy to become a successful citizen developer. In a previous article, I laid out five tips to QuickStart your citizen development career. And in this article, I would like to highlight the benefits of certifications to establish your professional credibility and to guide you on best practices.


How can you stand out in the job market as

a professional citizen developer?


Professional Developer vs Citizen Developer

. Before I describe citizen development certificates and credentials, it is important to highlight the major career differences between a citizen developer and a professional developer:

-          Professional Developer: IT professionals and software developers who have the skills, knowledge, and expertise to create and maintain software created for commercial purposes.

-          Citizen Developer: non-IT professionals who are capable of building applications without coding knowledge, but usually with the support of IT.


A typical career path for a software developer may start with database, application services, software development lifecycle, coding skills, and a variety of technologies. A professional developer might become a technical leader, software architect, CIO (Chief Information Officer) or CTO (Chief Technology Officer).


Figure 2 – Software developer learning paths (LinkedIn Learning)


What about Citizen Developers?

What does a CD career path look like?

The Project Economy articulates how work has changed for individuals and organizations. According to PMI´s research, the future of work will be based more on specific projects than roles, meaning change-makers are anywhere in all industries and professions. On top of that, digital transformation is everywhere from products and services to new technologies, new business models, and new ways of work. Consequently, citizen development as a life skill applies to all of us.

Learning a visual interface drag-and-drop system to connect components in a meaningful order to create an application without writing any code is not enough. You have to acquire the skillset to see the world through new lens, understanding business needs through the hyper-agile SDLC (Doing and the Management of Doing).

Figure 3 – PMI Citizen Development framework.


To become a successful citizen developer, you must understand the citizen development framework (Figure 2), as I explained in previous articles. You can take the official course at and showcase your certificate of completion on your resume. The next step is to get certified.


Get a Certification, and Get Ahead

A certification increases your earning potential and employability. You can also access community involvement benefits by getting a certification.

Figure 4 – PMI CD product descriptions and certifications.


Our professions are rapidly evolving, citizen development will upskill your career, enabling you to create low-code applications. That means you can leverage your competencies and experience to achieve more through the use of technology. Take these examples:

-          Finance: as a citizen developer, you may solve a variety of problems by developing a reimbursement app or automated approvals based on business rules;

-          Health Care: as a citizen developer, you may identify opportunities to improve services by adopting paperless technology and real time dashboards;

-          Marketing: as a citizen developer, you may develop applications to improve customer experience, customer service, and more;

-          Project Management: as a citizen developer, you may build a variety of applications to help you updating tasks, manage information and documents, and more;

-          Logistics: as a citizen developer, you may find ways to become more productive by using artificial intelligence, big data, and machine learning;

-          Engineering: as a citizen developer, you may combine Internet of Things, Artificial Intelligence, and more to build low-code applications and improve your organization´s competitiveness.


The common story among the examples above is that they use a proven framework to move from the project concept to a minimum viable product. Hyper-agility is the next big thing for all organizations and professionals. And, by getting certified, you get ahead. Visit and stay tuned.


Join the conversation. Let me know your thoughts on the comments below. 


Do you prefer listening to a Podcast? Check out the PMOCast here.


Posted by Mario Trentim on: April 29, 2021 12:38 PM | Permalink | Comments (5)

21st Century Skills and Digital Skills: Citizen Development Skills for Life

By Mario Trentim

As the world changes, new and transformed professions arise. We are now at a point when it is very challenging for the people and organizations to make sense of the current situation because the pandemic turned our world upside-down. Meanwhile, we need awareness that “what brought us here won´t get us there”, to paraphrase Marshall Goldsmith.


We must acquire new competencies

and skills urgently.


I am a project manager and a PMI volunteer since 2008, which means I was fortunate to take part in the evolution of project management morphing into a life skill. We are now on the verge of a significant change: Citizen Development and Digital Skills.

In this article, I will discuss how digital skills are connected to the 21st-century skills established by UNESCO in the early 2010s. And I will suggest a roadmap for PMI volunteers, professionals, educators, and parents, to prepare our next generations to the future of work.


21st Century Skills

Since the emergence of technology changes and globalization, it has been argued that formal education must embrace new forms of learning to build competencies needed to tackle more complex challenges.

Pedagogy changed to foster participation and emphasize project and problem-based learning (LUNA SCOTT, 2015), but it still relied more on synchronous in-person classes. Although e-learning was a possibility for a long time, educators and schools struggled to create a remote-first education.

Research about digital skills, technology literacy, computer programming, and related topics started to surface more robust evidence that we are failing to prepare our kids for the future of work. Laar et al. (2017) provide a systematic literature review to emphasize the importance of digital skills.

Considering digital transformation started back in 2008 with cloud services, educational models and systems are outdated. The job market already noticed that formal education is not sufficient. And that´s the reason why short duration courses, micro-learning, and self-paced study are growing at a fast rate in recent years.

The pandemic in 2020 and 2021 impacted schools and universities severely. Classes were interrupted, educators were disrupted, and students are confused and bored. Was it possible to anticipate change and reinvent education before the COVID crisis?


Roadmap to Prepare Future Generations

The answer to the previous questions is Yes and No. Yes, because we were able to see that educational systems and curricula were outdated. No, because there is always strong resistance and attachment to the status quo.

The best time for change was in the past. The second best time is now. And here is the roadmap to prepare future generations, digital native toddlers and young adults, equipping them with new skills and competencies needed:


  1. Adopt a Remote-First Mindset

I had the opportunity to help schools and educational nonprofits during the pandemic. One of the biggest mistakes I notice in schools that combine in-person and remote learning is that they focus on in-person because it is easy. As a result, the kids studying from home feel bored and excluded. If schools want to change education, they need much more than a webcam recording room with the professor and some students.

It is necessary to rethink and remodel the curricula, adapting classes to shorter durations, defining asynchronous and synchronous learning, and more. The secret to being successful is to adopt a remote-first mindset: if the remote students are learning and engaged, all the students are learning and engaged.

Focusing on teaching and leading at a distance is a game-changer, but we must have a different breed of educators.


  1. Embrace Citizen Development Educators

I´ve mentioned that some professions are at risk, and all the occupations must be reinvented as new technologies digitally transform them. Since coding skills and computer literacy are in high demand for the future of work, educators must cultivate digital skills. Not only learn how to stream classes and use learning management systems but also become citizen developers themselves. I will discuss this further in another article.

Microsoft Power Platform: School Teacher uses Power Apps to Transform Classroom Management and Motivate Students

Mendix: Building the Digital University


  1. Combine Edutainment and Technology

I´ve been experimenting with education for two decades now as a Microsoft Innovative Educator Expert. One of the most powerful ways to learn something is by doing and explaining what you are doing. That being said, I structure my lectures in three different types: foundations, practitioner, and advanced.

The foundation classes are comprised of self-paced learning, reading, and asynchronous learning. The student gets a common understanding by accessing introductory materials that prepare them for the live class (synchronous).

The practitioner classes are hands-on, using a collaboration space, we devise experiments, simulations. These classes promote critical thinking and collaboration.

Finally, the advanced classes focus on case studies, benchmarking, and sometimes significant challenges or unsolvable problems. These classes are designed to promote innovation and creativity.

You probably think that all I said does not apply to you. But I tested it with low-income and high-income students, toddlers, undergrad, and even MBA students. It works and there are communities of educators discussing how to reinvent education combined with technology.

Currently, you can teach geography, chemistry, history, and more, using Minecraft for Education. And you can develop a variety of other skills with Scratch programing.​

Minecraft for Education

Scratch Programming


How You Can Help With CD Education

First, check out references like  Serious Games and Edutainment Applications (Jain, 2011).

Then join a community of educators like MIEE Programs or others, depending on your technology choices. Third, and most importantly, get acquainted with the PMI Citizen Development Framework and join a community of practice.

I hope that soon we have groups of volunteers building the Citizen Development Skills for Life, similar to what we did in the past with PM Skills for Life. Let me know your thoughts below.

Posted by Mario Trentim on: April 01, 2021 12:00 PM | Permalink | Comments (3)

Five Tips to Quickstart your Citizen Developer Career

By Mario Trentim


In my previous article, I described the difference between "doing" and "the management of doing." In a way, citizen development is a broad discipline utilizing business analysis concepts, agile project management, software development, innovation, lean startup, and technology to create the future of work by leveraging digital transformation in all life and business areas.

Too much for your brain? Don't panic. This article will lay out a simple plan based on five tips to quickstart your citizen developer career.


Understanding the "Big Picture"

Citizen development is here to stay. And the PMI Community plays an essential role in shaping what comes next since we are a community of change-makers (project managers, business analysts, agilists, and more).

Citizen development is more than a framework and is more than a toolkit. We may understand citizen development as a life skill since every person engages with different technologies daily. Digital literacy is required if you are a student trying to attend online classes and deliver homework. Digital skills are even more critical to your job, considering you have to collaborate and work productively in an entirely new way with virtual and hybrid teams. And digital maturity is foundational to business models and organizational strategy because stakeholders' experience and behavior changed completely (digital employee experience, digital customer experience, and more).


So, before your profession and career are disrupted,

what should you do to become a citizen developer?


Five Tips to Help you Become a Citizen Developer


  1. Join Citizen Development training

Every time I find a new topic of interest that might impact my work or my organization, I look for a foundational course from an accredited source. Information is so abundant nowadays that you become quickly overwhelmed by Blog posts and Youtube videos on a particular topic.

If you don't have any background, you will waste a lot of time figuring out what citizen development is from sparse materials. Unless you have a technology background or some familiarity with software development, I don't recommend unsupervised learning by yourself.

Figure 1 – Citizen Developer Foundation Course


Figure 2 – Citizen Development Handbook


So, tip #1 is to look for a book and training. What will you learn from the references above? You will learn the Citizen Development Framework, equipping you with tools and techniques, processes, and steps to define, plan, organize, and manage citizen development projects.

What's next?

You will need a low-code / no-code platform to experiment, prototype and build your applications.


  1. Experiment with the no-code platform

As I explained in my previous article, a no-code / low-code platform allows you to develop applications without being proficient in a programming language (Low-Code vs. Citizen Development).

Instead of writing code (Figure 3), a low-code platform allows you to choose and configure components by simply dragging and dropping what you need.

Figure 3 – Programming Language (


Figure 4 – Low-Code Platform, Microsoft Power Platform example.


To experiment with a low-code platform, you have to pick one of your choices. That's the reason why the first step is to get a foundation course. You will learn what citizen development is, why it is essential, and what platforms you can choose. Below there is a list of low-code platforms for you to start exploring.

  • Appian
  • Boomi
  • Creatio
  • Mendix
  • OutSystems
  • Quickbase
  • WaveMaker
  • Microsoft
  • Oracle
  • SalesForce


Although I will provide you more examples and guidance on my future blog posts, it is time to join a community of practice and get to know your IT team.


  1. Get to know your IT team


One of the primary reasons behind the citizen development revolution is the shortage of professional developers. As technology moves to the center of business models and the world run on software, more and more products and services need technology.

End-users need help from IT to develop applications for a variety of reasons. In the past, the so-called power-users were people from the business with some IT experience, developing solutions to solve their departments' needs. These solutions could be those monstrous spreadsheets or other applications, sometimes causing more harm than good because shadow-IT might be very dangerous.

It would be best if you got to know your IT team as soon as possible. They are probably already experimenting with citizen development and using low-code platforms for software development. They will be capable of helping you understand when and how to use citizen development to your needs.

Also, bear in mind that some low-code applications might be so complex and large that you would need to go for the Assisted path or IT Delivery path, both described at the PMI Citizen Development framework (Figure 5).


Figure 5 – Hyper-Agile SDLC Paths (


I will describe the Hyper-Agile SDLC in detail and provide examples in future blog posts. For now, you have to understand that the Fast Track path is adequate for medium/low complexity applications that you can build on your own without help from an IT department.

My next tip is to focus on problems and opportunities at hand in your business unit to acquire citizen development skills. Keep in touch with your IT team for guidance.


  1. Plan solutions to achieve business objectives

When I mention "citizen development," many people get confused and do not know where to start. The best way to learn citizen development is to focus on specific problems you want to solve related to your organization.

Take employee experience, for example. Because of the pandemic, most of the organizations adopted remote work. Not all organizations had the time or competencies to plan appropriately. The final result is less than satisfactory.

Imagine you worked at a small office with 50 people. You probably didn't need a specific application for the employees to select a health plan. They could stand up and walk to the Human Resources person (or team) and pick a health plan from a spreadsheet. Now that your company grew to 100 employees, all of them working from home, it is time-consuming and frustrating trying to make a video call or sending an email to the Human Resources team to select your health plan. There you have an excellent idea for a citizen development project!

Figure 6 – Health Plan Selector, Microsoft Power Apps


There are many low-code sample applications focused on human resources, onboarding and hiring processes, reimbursement. Or you can build your app from scratch.

You will also find more examples for operations, sales, and any other area or processes in your organization. Don't forget to work closely with your IT team and to continue sharpening your skills.


  1. Continuously improve your development skills


Last tip: citizen development is a lifelong learning journey. As you get more experienced with the PMI Citizen Development Framework and proficient in using specific low-code platforms from different vendors, you may choose different paths.

One career path might be to become a citizen development architect, responsible for large citizen development initiatives, with broad knowledge and experience to architect complex solutions. Another career path might be to become a citizen development strategist, someone who is thinking of digital strategies and digital transformation to your business and your organization as a whole.

You may provide guidance and coaching to other citizen developers in your company since some organizations establish Citizen Development Centers of Excellence and Digital Transformation Offices, a topic I will discuss next week in my article. Stay tuned.


Join the conversation below in the comments and let me know your thoughts. Also, feel free to reach out to me at



Posted by Mario Trentim on: March 25, 2021 12:00 PM | Permalink | Comments (3)

"You can't have everything. Where would you put it?"

- Steven Wright