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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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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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5 Top Citizen Development Myths Busted

In the world of software development, citizen development is a term that's gaining traction. It refers to the process of allowing non-technical employees, often referred to as "citizen developers," to create applications and automate tasks without relying on IT professionals. While citizen development has its merits, it's not immune to misconceptions and myths. In this blog, we'll shed light on five of the top citizen development myths and debunk them to help you better understand this transformative approach.

Top 5 Citizen Development Myths

Myth 1: Citizen Development is a Threat to IT

One of the most common misconceptions about citizen development is that it poses a threat to the IT department. Some IT professionals worry that allowing non-technical employees to create applications could lead to security vulnerabilities, data breaches, or chaotic IT environments. However, this myth is more fiction than fact.

Reality Check:

Citizen development is not a replacement for IT but rather a complementary approach. When implemented correctly, citizen development can actually ease the burden on IT teams by empowering employees to solve their own problems. IT professionals can work alongside citizen developers to establish guidelines, provide training, and ensure that the created applications comply with security and compliance standards. This collaborative effort can lead to a more efficient and agile IT ecosystem.

Myth 2: Citizen Development Lacks Quality and Reliability

Another prevailing myth is that applications created by citizen developers are inherently of lower quality and reliability compared to those developed by professional software engineers. Skeptics argue that citizen developers lack the necessary skills and expertise to produce robust and dependable software solutions.

Reality Check:

While it's true that citizen developers may not have the same level of technical knowledge as professional developers, this doesn't mean their creations are doomed to be subpar. Modern low-code and no-code platforms offer user-friendly interfaces and templates that guide citizen developers through the application development process. These platforms also incorporate best practices and security measures, reducing the risk of unreliable applications.

Furthermore, citizen developers often have a deep understanding of their specific work processes and needs, which can result in applications that are highly tailored to the organization's requirements. Quality assurance can be achieved through rigorous testing and collaboration with IT teams.

Myth 3: Citizen Development is Only for Simple Tasks

Some believe that citizen development is limited to creating simple, rudimentary applications and is not suitable for complex business processes. They argue that it's fine for automating minor tasks but inadequate for tackling more sophisticated challenges.

Reality Check:

Citizen development is not just for simple tasks; it can handle a wide range of complexity. Low-code and no-code platforms are continually evolving, providing tools and functionalities that cater to complex workflows and business processes. Citizen developers can build applications that integrate with existing systems, handle data analytics, and even support machine learning models.

The key is to provide adequate training and support to citizen developers, enabling them to take on more complex projects over time. With the right guidance and tools, citizen developers can make significant contributions to the organization's digital transformation efforts.

Myth 4: Citizen Development is a Passing Trend

Some skeptics view citizen development as a temporary buzzword that will eventually fade away. They argue that it's just a fad and not worth investing time and resources into.

Reality Check:

Citizen development is far from being a passing trend. In fact, it's gaining momentum as organizations recognize its potential to drive innovation, agility, and efficiency. The democratization of application development is aligning with the ever-increasing demand for digital solutions in the business world. As technology evolves, citizen development is likely to become an integral part of an organization's digital strategy.

Investing in citizen development now can position your organization for long-term success by empowering employees to contribute to digital initiatives and adapt to evolving business needs.

Myth 5: Citizen Development Leads to Shadow IT

Shadow IT refers to the use of unauthorized or unapproved software and applications within an organization. Some critics argue that citizen development can lead to an increase in shadow IT, with employees creating and using applications without proper oversight.

Reality Check:

While there is a potential for shadow IT to emerge in a poorly managed citizen development environment, it's not an inherent consequence of citizen development itself. To prevent shadow IT, organizations should establish clear governance and guidelines for citizen development initiatives. This includes defining which types of applications can be created by citizen developers, ensuring compliance with security and data privacy policies, and providing a platform for citizen developers to collaborate with IT professionals.

Conclusion

Citizen development is a powerful approach that can help organizations harness the creativity and expertise of their non-technical employees to drive digital innovation. By dispelling these five common myths, we hope to encourage a more informed and open-minded approach to citizen development. When implemented with the right strategies and tools, citizen development can enhance productivity, foster collaboration between IT and business units, and contribute to an organization's overall success in the digital age. Embrace the potential of citizen development and leverage it as a valuable asset on your journey toward digital transformation.

References
How to Implement and Govern Citizen Development in your Organization

How Citizen Developers Are Driving Business Agility And Innovation Without Code

5 Reasons to Encourage Citizen Development at Work

Posted by Vivek Goel on: October 20, 2023 11:21 AM | Permalink | Comments (6)

Empowering Citizen Developers: Overcoming 5 Common Challenges Together

In today's tech-savvy world, citizen development has become a buzzword, allowing employees to build applications and contribute to their organization's growth. However, like any journey, citizen developers face challenges that might seem overwhelming.

Challenges to Adopting Citizen Development

Let's explore the top 5 challenges they encounter and discover practical solutions to conquer them, ensuring their success in this exciting endeavor.

1. The Learning Adventure

Challenge: As an average Jane or Joe, starting with app development might feel like embarking on a complex puzzle. The fear of not understanding coding languages or intricate software platforms can be discouraging.

Solution: Citizen developers can explore user-friendly platforms, allowing them to build applications through intuitive drag-and-drop interfaces. For instance, say, a sales executive, Sarah, wants to streamline her team's lead tracking process. With Quixy, she can create a custom lead management app without writing a single line of code, making her a citizen developer hero!

2. Time Management Tightrope

Challenge: Many citizen developers have regular job responsibilities, leaving them with limited time to focus on application development.

Solution: Carve out dedicated time slots organizations can promote a culture that values citizen development by allocating dedicated time slots for project work. This way, employees like John, a marketing specialist, can focus on building a dynamic event registration app for his team without distractions.

3. Navigating the Security Labyrinth

Challenge: Ensuring data security and compliance might seem insurmountable for citizen developers.

Solution: Secure your applications with confidence by choosing platforms with built-in security features, citizen developers can rest assured that their applications are safeguarded. For example, Lisa, an HR executive, can create an employee onboarding app on a platform that automatically encrypts sensitive data, keeping confidential information safe.

4. Bridging the Gap with Legacy Systems

Challenge: Integrating new applications with existing legacy systems could feel like fitting a square peg in a round hole.

Solution: Embrace the power of integrations with the help of IT teams, citizen developers like Mike, an operations specialist, can utilize pre-built API connectors to integrate their applications with legacy systems seamlessly. This allows data to flow effortlessly between the old and the new, creating a cohesive workflow.

5. Sustaining the Momentum

Challenge: After successfully deploying an application, maintaining and updating it can be an ongoing challenge for citizen developers.

Solution: Empowering citizen developers to collaborate with IT teams ensures continuous support for their applications. For instance, a finance analyst, Emily, can collaborate with IT experts to ensure her financial tracking app stays updated with the latest regulations.

Conclusion

Citizen development is not just a fancy term; it's a transformative journey that empowers everyday employees to be innovation catalysts. Organizations can nurture a thriving community of citizen developers by providing easy-to-use platforms, time, and support. Overcoming challenges together unlocks the true potential of these developers, enabling them to create powerful applications and contribute significantly to the organization's growth.

In this blog, we have explored the top 5 challenges citizen developers face and provided practical solutions with real-world examples. Embracing citizen development as a team effort sets the stage for a culture of creativity and collaboration, ensuring a successful and fulfilling journey for all citizen developers.

Posted by Vivek Goel on: August 09, 2023 07:17 AM | Permalink | Comments (2)

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

Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) systems have been a cornerstone of modern business operations for decades. They help companies manage their resources, streamline their workflows, and improve their overall efficiency. However, traditional ERP systems can be expensive, complex, and time-consuming to implement, making them inaccessible to smaller businesses and startups. This is where no-code/low-code ERP platforms come into play. These systems require little to no coding knowledge, making them accessible to businesses of all sizes. But can no-code/low-code ERP systems really replace traditional ERP platforms? 

In this article, we'll explore the benefits and drawbacks of both approaches and see if no-code/low-code ERP platforms are ready to take over the market. Let’s begin!


All About ERP Platforms


Let’s start off with a bit of revision. As you must know, Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) systems are software solutions that help businesses manage their day-to-day operations, including financial management, human resources, supply chain management, customer relationship management, and more. ERP systems integrate different business functions and provide a centralized database for all data, enabling businesses to have a holistic view of their operations. In fact, 53% of businesses believe ERP is one of the priority sectors for investments.

ERP systems are important for several reasons. First, they help businesses increase efficiency and productivity by automating routine tasks, reducing errors, and streamlining workflows. This frees up employees to focus on more strategic tasks, such as customer acquisition and product development. Second, ERP systems provide real-time data analytics and reporting, allowing businesses to make informed decisions based on accurate information. Lastly, ERP systems improve collaboration and communication within and between departments, leading to better decision-making and increased transparency.

If all’s well and ERP systems are helping organizations so much, then why are we even talking about replacing them? Why is there a need to do so? 


Challenges Associated with Legacy ERP Systems


Legacy ERP systems, which are typically older, on-premise software solutions, can hold back a business in several ways. These systems were designed to meet the needs of businesses in a different era and can struggle to keep up with the rapidly changing technological landscape of today's business world. Here is why your traditional ERP could be harming your business: 

1. Lack of Flexibility and Customization

One of the most significant challenges with legacy ERP systems is their lack of flexibility and customization options. These systems are often designed to meet the specific needs of a business at a particular time, and any changes to the system require significant time and resources. This can be a major challenge for businesses that need to adapt quickly to changing market conditions or customer demands.

2. Limited Integration Capabilities

Legacy ERP systems were not designed to integrate with other software solutions, which can create data silos and limit the visibility of critical business information. This can make it difficult for businesses to make informed decisions or take advantage of emerging technologies like AI, machine learning, or IoT.

3. Outdated User Interface

Many legacy ERP systems have outdated user interfaces that are difficult to use and not intuitive. This can lead to decreased productivity and increased frustration among employees who need to use the system regularly. It can also make it difficult to onboard new employees and ensure that they are using the system correctly.

4. Security Risks

Legacy ERP systems may be more vulnerable to security threats, as they may not have the latest security patches and updates. This can leave a business open to data breaches or other cyber attacks, which can be costly and damaging to the company's reputation.

5. Costly Maintenance

Maintaining a legacy ERP system can be costly and time-consuming, as it requires specialized knowledge and resources to keep the system up to date. This can divert resources away from more strategic initiatives and make it difficult for businesses to stay competitive in their industry. According to one study, firms using old ERP systems spend between 60% and 80% of their IT budget on maintenance compared to those who have shifted to modern ERP software.

6Limited Mobile Accessibility

Most legacy ERP systems are not designed to be accessed from mobile devices, which can limit the ability of employees to access critical business information when they are away from the office. This can be a major challenge for businesses that have remote or field-based employees who need to access the system on the go.

To stay competitive in today's rapidly changing business landscape, businesses need to consider modern cloud-based ERP systems that offer greater flexibility, scalability, and integration capabilities. By doing so, businesses can stay ahead of the curve and achieve greater success in the long run.

Naturally, the question arises, what is the best way to create an ERP system that helps your business thrive and compete? One that does away with all these challenges? Well, look no further because we have the perfect solution in mind. 

No-Code/Low-Code for ERP Modernization

Just to recap, no-code/low-code technology refers to software development platforms that allow users to create applications without requiring advanced coding skills. These platforms typically use visual interfaces, drag-and-drop tools, and pre-built templates to enable users to create applications quickly and easily.

When it comes to ERP modernization, no-code/low-code technology can be a game-changer. Traditionally, ERP systems have been expensive and time-consuming to implement, often requiring extensive customization and development work. With no-code/low-code ERP systems, businesses can implement and customize their ERP systems much more quickly and at a lower cost.

Here are some reasons why organizations should consider ERP modernization with no-code/low-code technology:

1. Faster Implementation

No-code/low-code ERP systems can be implemented much more quickly than traditional ERP systems. This is because the visual interface and pre-built templates allow users to create and configure their ERP system with minimal coding or development work.

2. Increased Efficiency

Modern ERP systems with no-code/low-code can increase efficiency by automating routine tasks and streamlining workflows. This frees up employees to focus on more strategic tasks, such as customer acquisition and product development.

3. Improved Data Analytics and Reporting

No-code/low-code ERP systems provide real-time data analytics and reporting, allowing businesses to make informed decisions based on accurate information.

So, is it time for you to completely do away with your current ERP system? Do you need to start afresh with no-code/low-code technology?

Using No-Code/Low-Code in Conjunction With Your Existing ERP System

Answering the million-dollar question, you simply don’t have any need to make it no-code/low-code vs your existing ERP system. One does not have to replace the other, as both can work in conjunction to create magic. Your current ERP system, despite its shortcomings, is designed to fit into your organizational processes. The people in your organization must also have a certain level of comfort with it. However, this does not mean that you need to put up with all the shortcomings of a legacy system. You can use no-code/low-code to get rid of these challenges without having to start from scratch. Let’s explore the various advantages of using no-code/low-code with your existing ERP system: 

Integrating no-code/low-code technology with existing ERP systems can offer several advantages, including:

1. Faster Customization

Using no-code/low-code technology, businesses can customize their existing ERP system without needing to hire additional developers or programmers. The visual interface and drag-and-drop tools allow business users to create and modify workflows, forms, and reports without needing to write any code.

2. Lower Costs

Implementing a new ERP system can be a costly endeavor, but no-code/low-code technology can reduce costs by allowing businesses to modify and extend their existing ERP system without the need for expensive customization or development work.

3. Improved User Experience

By using no-code/low-code technology, businesses can improve the user experience of their existing ERP system. They can create custom forms and workflows that are tailored to their specific needs, making it easier for employees to complete tasks and access the information they need.

4. Greater Flexibility

No-code/low-code technology allows businesses to make changes to their existing ERP system quickly and easily. This provides greater flexibility, enabling businesses to adapt their system to changing business needs and requirements.

5. Reduced Risk 

When implementing a new ERP system, there is always a risk of disruption and downtime. By using no-code/low-code technology to modify their existing ERP system, businesses can reduce this risk by avoiding the need for a complete system overhaul.

6. Increased Innovation

No-code/low-code technology empowers business users to experiment with new workflows, forms, and reports, encouraging innovation and experimentation.

 

The Takeaway

Using no-code/low-code to update and modernize your legacy ERP systems gives you the power to have the best of both worlds. While you can continue using a system you’re comfortable with, you can do away with all the challenges associated with a legacy system. By leveraging the visual interface and drag-and-drop tools of no-code/low-code technology, you can make changes to your ERP system quickly and easily, without needing extensive development work or coding skills.

Posted by Vivek Goel on: May 18, 2023 02:25 AM | Permalink | Comments (4)

Suitability Assessments - what are they and why are they important?

Welcome to the world of citizen development.

Amazing things happen here in the world of citizen development. If you’ve been in it a while, you already know how incredible it is to watch an idea go from spark to screen in days or even hours. If you’re new to citizen development, get ready for a fascinating new reality.

This post is the third in a series that will introduce you to elements on the PMI Citizen Development Canvas (see below). These blogs are designed to inspire you, share tips and insight, and further your knowledge and experience. I welcome your questions and encourage you to share your own stories in the comments.

I am glad you’re here.

Last month I introduced you to Ideation 2.0. This month, I will introduce you to Suitability Assessments.

PMI Citizen Development Canvas - Suitablity Assessment

 

Suitability Assessments - what are they and why are they important?

Is a project you’re considering suitable for a low-code/no-code (LCNC) solution? There’s an easy way to find out before you begin.

The term “suitability assessment” sounds long and drawn out, but in the LCNC world, it is a simple series of questions that can be quickly answered and rated by Citizen Developers. The questions spring from two sets of criteria:

  1. Is the citizen development process the right fit for the proposed solution?
  2. Does the company have the skills, tools, capacity, and buy-in to support the proposed solution?

Let’s take a look at how one company performed its suitability assessment and the final results.

Situation: A manufacturing company needed a new way to manage its vendor relationships.  A team was assembled from each of the following departments: Partner Management, Accounting, Legal, Sales, and Operations. Through Ideation 2.0, the team identified the need for a solution to track communications, interactions, jobs, invoices, legal documentation, pricing, and general services on each of their vendors. The team favored the idea of a LCNC app, but the Citizen Developer wisely decided to conduct a suitability assessment to ensure it is a good fit for the project and the company.

 

Before: The vendor list within the manufacturing company is growing exponentially, and each department has cobbled together workflows specific to their department. Each department stored key data about vendors without visibility across all departments, creating unnecessary silos and miscommunication. There was no single source of truth.

 

Process: The team performed a suitability assessment in less than 20 minutes by using two tools found in the Citizen Development: The Handbook for Creators and Change Makers

The first tool they used was the Suitability Assessment Scorecard. The scorecard helped the squad determine if the proposed solution was appropriate for a citizen development project. The simple scoring method was:

        YES (the statement is true): 2 points

        NO (the statement is not true): 0 points

        Neither YES or NO (somewhere in the middle): 1 point

In general, the higher the score, the better the fit for a LCNC project.

 

Suitability Assessment Scorecard

Question

Score

This solution requires little/no coding.

2

The cost of this solution is favorable in comparison to alternatives.

2

This solution will require regular and/or agile customizations.

1

There are capacity constraints within the IT team preventing them from delivering this solution in the required time frame.

2

Our team is open to learning and using citizen development application platforms.

2

The citizen development approach is less disruptive to the vendor.

2

Using citizen development matches the strategic direction of the organization.

2

Total        

13

With a score of 13 out of 14, the Citizen Developer classified the project as one which would be suitable for a citizen development solution.

 

The second tool the squad used was the Environmental Check. This tool helped them assess the suitability of citizen development from a corporate perspective. These questions weren’t scored but were discussed among the team.

Environmental Check

Question

Answer

Is there an app on the market that satisfies the requirements for this solution?

Yes, but it would require significant cost and time to customize and implement.

Is there a tool within your organization that satisfies the requirements for this solution?

Yes, the current CRM has a module-specific for vendors. There will be an additional cost, but it would support the needs of each department.

Does the squad lack the skills and capabilities required to build this app using citizen development?

No, the squad is capable of building this app. Some IT time will be needed for testing and security review.

Does the squad have the capacity (time) to build the app?

Neutral. Capacity planning would need to be utilized to ensure project deliverables are met.

Have you yet to identify and engage with stakeholders outside of the immediate team that will be impacted?

No, still need exec and IT team buy-in.

Does the solution require high-volume data analytics?

Eventually yes, plus it will contain confidential data.

Is there a significant impact if the existing shadow IT (current department data) stops being used?

No.

 

After: The big ah-ha for the team was the answer to the question, “Is there a tool within your organization that satisfies the requirements for this solution?” Until that moment, the squad hadn’t realized their existing CRM included a module to support what they each needed. By activating the vendor module and increasing the license count for the existing tool, the team was able to efficiently meet their stated goals. With the solution already in existence, it made more sense in this situation to use the existing CRM rather than create a new app. 

 

Suitability assessment tips:

As a Citizen Developer, I see the opportunity to develop solutions around every corner, yet LCNC tools aren’t always the answer. My overriding passion is to equip teams with the tools to help them work more efficiently, and that’s why I run each citizen development project through basic suitability assessments before launching into development.

Experience has taught me to:

  • Keep an open mind about possible solutions. 
  • Ask lots of questions - how, why, when, who, what, where? Go deep!
  • Understand the corporate landscape and the capacity of the LCNC tool I am using

Suitability assessments are your friend. They make sure that the projects you are working on are appropriate for the citizen development app and will fit within the organization.

 

What did this post spark in you? Are you new to no-code/low-code app creation? Have you used a suitability assessment in your company? Please post your questions, comments, and stories below.

Want to learn more? Grab your copy of the newly released book Citizen Development: The Handbook for Creators and Change Makers.

Posted by Jody Temple White on: February 18, 2021 04:42 PM | Permalink | Comments (4)
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