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

Past Contributors:

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

Recent Posts

5 Top Citizen Development Myths Busted

Empowering Citizen Developers: Overcoming 5 Common Challenges Together

Citizen Development: The Path to Success Starts Small

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

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

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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 (PMI.org)

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 (Wikipedia.org)

 

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 Citizen Development not Shadow IT is the Solution to Agility

By Mario Trentim

Shadow IT has been around since the beginning of IT. It is the result of business owners and stakeholders reaching for other options to address their challenges rather than waiting for IT to address them. It has been a solution to move faster without all the constraints from IT. To that extent, we might say that Shadow IT had its advantages in the past because there was no better solution.

In this article, I will examine Shadow IT and explore how citizen development brings better solutions to the table.

 

Shadow IT Benefits vs Risks

A quote attributed to Bill Gates says, “I choose a lazy person to do a hard job because a lazy person will find an easy way to do it.”  So, in a way, we must thank the “lazy people” and the workarounds known as Shadow IT. These were the first attempts to get past the IT professionals and developer shortage.

If Shadow IT is so good, shouldn’t we embrace it?

The problem with Shadow IT is that it is unsanctioned, posing significant threats to the security, performance, and reliability of critical assets in your organization.

95% of IT decision-makers recognize risks associated with Shadow IT, including lack of data governance, lack of ownership, and change control.

“If you are not breaking things, you are not moving fast enough.”

(Mark Zuckerberg)

Until recently, employees didn´t have the tools, capacity, and support from IT to address their needs.

Now that low-code platforms matured to the point that they minimize the need for technical knowledge, business users will be empowered to turn their ideas into reality in a hyper-agile development and prototyping environment.

 

Citizen Development and Hyper-Agility are the Solutions

Increasing IT capacity was never the solution. Considering that the world runs on software, citizen development becomes a life skill in high demand.

FTI Consulting's survey (Figure 1) demonstrates that business stakeholders and IT professionals view citizen development as a practical framework to address some of the main barriers to digital transformation.

Figure 1 – Citizen development research results from 2021 by FTI Consulting.

 

From the organizations´ perspective, business agility and resilience are only possible in an environment that supports collaboration, and autonomy. People from all industries and professional backgrounds must develop citizen development competencies and digital skills to stay relevant to the job market.

The ability to design and deliver applications will speed up the innovation processes organization-wide. As the organization matures in citizen development, there is a potential to unleash productivity gains across businesses. In order to reap the benefits, we need a combination of project management and hyper-agile development cycle.

Figure 2 – Hyper-agile software development cycle (PMI Citizen Development framework)

Hyper-Agile SDLC combines design and development in real-time with smaller teams and less management overhead, resulting in

· reduced documentation and requirement gathering needs

· lighter project governance and documentation

· continuous improvement, and

· ideation 2.0 throughout the project.

In my future articles, I will describe the project concept or initiation, ideation 2.0, spot assessment, and the three paths to Hyper-Agile SDLC, using the PMI Citizen Development framework.

 

Conclusion

Shadow IT is not the solution. It was a shortcut to a permanent solution based on citizen development in partnership with IT as needed.

Innovation and speed are essential elements to every organization. The environment has become more volatile and uncertain, and we have not only to adapt but also to anticipate change.

Thanks to technology, and empowered by the PMI Citizen Development framework, we are now better equipped for agility and to digitally transform businesses, society, and the way we work.

Posted by Mario Trentim on: April 15, 2021 12:00 PM | Permalink | Comments (1)

Digital Transformation Office and Citizen Development

By Mario Trentim

Businesses and society as a whole are facing change and disruption at higher rates than ever before. To manage complex organizational transformations, we need more than project management. It is necessary to strategize and innovate, coordinating larger and more complex transformation initiatives. This article will discuss the rise of the Transformation Offices, portfolios, and programs dedicated to promoting and sustaining change in organizations, and whether Citizen Development can help bring even further transformation.

 

Will Transformation Offices replace PMOs?

Before I answer the question, it is vital to emphasize that Project Management Offices (PMOs) are usually responsible for tactical and operational activities related to portfolio, program, and project management.

Although we have Enterprise PMOs (EPMOs), traditional portfolios and projects are extensively focused on continuous improvement. Research and Development PMOs (R&D PMOs) focused on innovation, but they are also not "transformational" in essence.

Finally, research and experience show that transformation and change management involves specific types of portfolios, programs, and projects that lower organizational hierarchy levels cannot handle. Because of that, a Transformation Office might be a combination of strategy, business analysis, innovation, and portfolio project management.

According to McKinsey & Company, the transformation office's role is to coordinate and provide oversight to strategic transformational initiatives, ensuring that all participants have a "single source of truth" and reinforcing the change-management goals.

 

A transformation's success depends on the regular drumbeat of the

Transformation Office, on clear communication,

and an action-oriented tone.

 

In summary, PMOs will not be replaced because we have an increasing number of projects at all organizational levels in different departments or areas. However, there is a high and increasing demand for project management professionals skilled in change management, transformation, and technology.

New trends support the case for a Transformation Office not only because people are the real key to digital transformation but mainly because there is no escape from the future of work and new business models. Finally, despite organizations knowing they have to reinvent and disrupt themselves, 70 percent of corporate transformation efforts fall short of their goals.

My point is that this staggering high failure rate has three major causes:

  1. Confusion between transformational and non-transformation initiatives;
  2. Insufficient or inappropriate change management activities; and,
  3. Lack of competency and skills.

 

What does a Successful Transformation Office look like?

Since the typical workforce lacks the critical mass of technology skills, “even when technologies are in place, too many of companies’ processes remain stuck in the pre-transformation world, to say nothing of the disconnect that remains between IT and systems groups and the rest of the business.” (McKinsey & Company)

Effective Transformation Offices are a combination of a Citizen Development Center of Excellence and a Project Management Office that can help organizations combine technical know-how with soft capabilities.

Project managers, business analysis, and citizen developers are change-makers by nature. When working together in a coordinated fashion, PMs, BAs, and CDs are capable of building relationships and common understanding among business functions and technology, paving the way for a successful transformation.

The PMI Citizen Development canvas (Figure 1) summarizes a framework to guide successful organizational transformations. Starting at the Project Delivery section, hyper-agility provides guidance to lean approaches and prototyping based on innovative techniques of the Ideation 2.0 while all ideas and proposals shall be evaluated according to the Suitability Assessment. A Transformation Office is also responsible for Capability Development which includes Business Analysis and Design, Enterprise Risk Requirements, and Application Development.

Figure 1 – PMI Citizen Development canvas (PMI.org)

 

In order to set up and operate a successful Transformation Office, we need people proficient in business analysis and strategizing, project management and agile approaches, citizen development and technology acumen. Considering the diversity of disciplines involved, the Citizen Development framework is the glue that holds a coherent and unified approach to organizational transformation.

Is it time for a Citizen Development Office?

Well, it looks like the 70 percent failure rate shows that transformations are not being properly managed by traditional PMOs. Instead of creating different names (Strategy / Vision Realization Offices, Transformation Management Offices, Agile Project Management Offices, and more), I advocate that it is time to add a new framework to our existing change-makers toolboxes: PMI Citizen Development, a handbook for creators and change makers.

 

“Besides being respected and credible, the leader of the transformation office should be technically proficient, understand the affected business domains, and have a strong relationship with technical teams.” (McKinsey & Company)

 

In my next articles, I will provide you with step-by-step examples using the tools and techniques described in the Citizen Development canvas (Figure 1). And I will tell you how organizations are embracing citizen development by describing successful (and unsuccessful) case studies.

What are your thoughts on this? If you want to listen to this article and previous articles, check out my podcast here. Please leave your comments and join the conversation below. 

Posted by Mario Trentim on: April 08, 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 (Wikipedia.org)

 

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 (PMI.org)

 

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 Linkedin.com/in/trentim.

 

 

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