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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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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 https://www.pmi.org/citizen-developer 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 https://www.pmi.org/citizen-developer 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)

Citizen Development Does Not End With Development - 4 Ways Organizations Will Maintain Applications

Introduction

When citizen development is discussed, the focus tends to be on the empowerment of business users to create their own applications. However, there is a lack of available resources that detail how those applications should be maintained in contrast with traditional software.

Types of Applications

Applications which are managed by end-users have been around for a number of years. We refer to some of these applications as “Shadow IT”. Shadow IT apps are most of times maintained by their creators. There are discrepancies as to how tolerant organizations can be to Shadow IT’s existence (see Liz Jordan’s blog on Shadow IT for more detail: https://www.projectmanagement.com/blog-post/68155/Is-citizen-development-just-a-form-of-sanctioned-shadow-IT-). However, there is a general consensus in industry that Shadow IT is pernicious and occurs every time that software is created without having been sanctioned by the IT / Technology department.

Shadow IT is Pernicious

As a management consultant, I’ve come across organizations that have the necessary controls in place to prevent business users from creating Shadow IT applications. Others have a significant reliance of their business knowledge in Shadow IT applications, even without knowing. My point being, the maintenance of Shadow IT applications has been performed by the end users without the involvement of the IT / Technology department. And that’s a dangerous approach because these individuals usually don’t have the knowledge nor the tools to perform a proper holistic maintenance.

Maintenance for Citizen Development

Citizen development enables a new paradigm where maintenance tasks can be shared between Citizen Developers and the IT / Technology department. If I create an application that reduces some of my most tedious day-to-day activities by, let’s say 10% of my daily workday, I can dedicate some of that time to maintain and improve my application.

Different types of Maintenance

In the software development world, it is widely accepted that between 60-80% of the Total Cost of Ownership (TCO) for enterprise systems is dedicated to their maintenance and to keep them running. There are four maintenance types accounting for this 60-80% of TCO, being:

  • Corrective maintenance – Amend mistakes and/or bugs created during the development phase
  • Adaptive maintenance – Update the applications to be in tune with the organization’s wider environment or improve the applications’ running performance
  • Perfective maintenance – Upgrade the applications to include new functionalities
  • Preventive maintenance – Attend minor current issues that could cause more serious problems in the future

The essence of these tasks is no different than traditional IT tasks. However, the way these tasks are done and who performs them changes. Let’s take a look at how citizen development impacts each of these 4 maintenance types.

Corrective maintenance 

The Citizen Developer is the best placed individual to detect bugs, identify a solution and implement it. Detecting bugs at first-hand avoids having to request upgrades to the IT department and then observe how that request is put into a list of priorities. In the majority of cases, Citizen Developers can eradicate these bugs if they are a proficient using the selected Low-Code / No-Code platform.

Tip- create a Competency Centre (or similar internal body), able to guide Citizen Developers through the process of solving common development bugs. These can be put into procedures as the maturity of the organization with regards to citizen development evolves.

Adaptive maintenance

It seems difficult to envisage how citizen development could help improve adaptive maintenance from the point of view of the citizens. They usually do not have the knowledge, competency or permission to manage an IT operating environment. It is too risky to put technical, hardware or security changes (to name a few), in the hands of citizens.

Hence, the benefit of using citizen development with regards to adaptive maintenance comes when the environment is sanctioned and provided by your IT department. Firstly, because all the applications created in the business are centralised as a consequence of using sanctioned low-code/no-code platforms and can be addressed as a whole instead of performing ad-hoc maintenance. Secondly, the IT department now has control over some assets that were previously Shadow IT.

Perfective maintenance

Citizen Developers may want to include new functionalities in their apps. There is no need to wait for the IT department to prioritise your requirements when you can do it yourself. This will enhance deployment time and will help save some valuable resources in the IT department.

Preventive maintenance

It is difficult to get a glimpse of how preventive maintenance can benefit from citizen development. Having said that, citizen development initiatives will ideally be carried out following a set of best practices that enables better evolution and scalability of software. These guidelines can be governed either by the IT department or by a Competency Centre or similar body.

This takes us back to the idea of the IT department being a partner of the business that facilitates and controls the environment.

Summary

  1. Citizen Developers are best placed to perform corrective maintenance without the need to rely on the IT department.
  2. IT acting as a facilitator can agglutinate and centralise adaptive maintenance for a higher number of applications (some of those were previously Shadow IT).
  3. Citizen Developers speed up the process of perfecting applications, freeing capacity in the IT department so that they can continue to work on other priorities.
  4. Citizen Developers that follow best-practice guidelines when creating software will spawn a better future evolution and scalability of the apps created.

Conclusion

Citizen Development has the potential to help IT / Technology departments with their maintenance duties. As a result, there will be more control over the maintenance of IT assets in the organization as well as more capacity to take on other priorities, and an upskilled workforce will better understand the technology environment and how to take care of it.

Posted by Octavio Arranz on: February 17, 2021 12:22 PM | Permalink | Comments (6)

Low-Code or No-Code....What's the difference?

Have you been wondering what the difference is between Low-Code and No-Code is? Read our quick primer to learn about these key terms in citizen development.

In a recent interview between Sunil Prashara, President and CEO of PMI, and Praveen Seshadri, founder of AppSheet, Praveen drew a comparison between building software and driving a car.

In the early days, driving a car was a very involved affair.  Features we take for granted today simply didn’t exist; the automatic starter was not standard equipment in cars for many years. You had to physically crank the engine. You didn’t have a gear box or stick shift. There was no speedometer, water pressure or fuel gauge.  Driving a car was clumsy and hard.

In a similar way, early software engineering was tedious, painstaking and required a great deal of knowledge. The software pioneers had to be competent in many domains – being able to write instructions the computer could understand, how to write programmes to memory, how and where to store the data. All of this required the flicking of switches and the loading of punch cards or magnetic film in precise orders, making even small mistakes very costly.

Most people will agree that driving a modern car today no longer requires experience akin to having a doctorate in mechanical engineering. Similarly, software engineering has evolved such that it is no longer the exclusive domain of the dedicated IT professional.  In both these cases, over time, the relentless drive to make things easier, faster and more user friendly has meant that today pretty much anyone can drive a car, or build an application.

Chances are you are already familiar with the terms low-code and no-code application development platforms.  Essentially, they are what they say on the tin; low-code platforms started to make an appearance around three decades ago. Many of them born out of software houses’ desire to minimise repetitive, tedious very error prone tasks that are common when coding.  No-code platforms are a natural evolution of low-code, with the ambition being total obfuscation of the complexities of code.

 

Low-Code

Low-code platforms can be defined as tools that let you build software applications with a minimal amount of coding. Software developers can leverage pre-fabricated “blocks of code” to rapidly create applications.

Rather than focusing their efforts on hand-coding the application end-to-end, they these pre-fab code blocks to construct the application, and then use code for fine-tuning where and when desired.

In the strictest sense, low-code platforms require some level of coding knowledge, and this makes sense given that the target market, by and large, has been the existing IT department and software houses – these tools were designed to speed up what they were already doing, rather than trying to make software development more accessible to non-IT folk.  That said, some low-code platforms do also appeal to the non-coder and indeed are being used by them to great effect, for example in building MVPs which could then be handed over to the IT team to finish off and publish.

Low-code is markedly faster than hand-coding, and as a result projects are cheaper. Many prominent platform vendors feature use cases demonstrating 10x faster project delivery times compared to hand-coding approaches. This is one reason that Gartner estimates that the low-code market will be responsible for more than 65% of applications by 2024.

No-Code

While conceptually similar, no-code platforms go a step further and attempt to completely eliminate the need to write even a line a of code when creating an application. Boasting clean, intuitive graphical interfaces with point-and-click and drag-and-drop mechanics, no-code platforms are designed to be approachable to those outside the IT department. This is one of the fundamental drivers behind the growing global interest in the Citizen Development movement.

Users of no-code platforms have demonstrated orders-of-magnitude faster delivery times when compared to hand-coding and even low-code.  Application development projects that would ordinarily take months to simply mobilise, can now be delivered in a few days by a trained user of a no-code platform.

It is important to note that no-code platforms are not inherently better than low-code platforms. For the increase in speed, there is a reduction in control. Indeed, many organizations prefer their existing low-code platforms, given they are likely less locked-down and offer a greater level of flexibility and control.  There are numerous instances of core systems and highly complex applications that have been built using low-code platforms, but notably fewer examples on no-code platforms. 

It is also worth stating that low-code and no-code are sometimes used interchangeably and some platforms can justifiably be viewed as having both low-code and no-code characteristics (and catering to both the IT department and the non-IT business user at the same time). There are numerous no-code vendors out there that allow users to code, for example.

 

Conclusion

Low-code and no-code platforms have demonstrated incredible return on investment for those organizations that have taken the plunge.

  • Speed of build – Both low-code and no-code greatly accelerate the development process. Low-code can make the process 10x faster. No-code doubles this, and then some.

  • Less resource demand – Forrester estimates that there will be a deficit of 500,000 developers by 2024 in the US alone. With minimal understanding of programming required for low-code and no understanding of programming required by no-code, the typical business user can step in to fill this gap.

  • Rapid deployment – Time from build to deployment is significant reduced. Low-code and no-code are optimized for quicker decision making and lighter project governance. E.g. change requests applied in real-time, rather than being scheduled for periodic release cycles. It transforms how software is developed and reshapes how development teams are assembled and operate, with business resources taking the lead and minimal IT approvals required.

Posted by Arjun Jamnadass on: January 08, 2021 01:11 PM | Permalink | Comments (9)

Low-Code or No-Code....What's the difference?

Have you been wondering what the difference is between Low-Code and No-Code is? Read our quick primer to learn about these key terms in citizen development.

In a recent interview between Sunil Prashara, President and CEO of PMI, and Praveen Seshadri, founder of AppSheet, Praveen drew a comparison between building software and driving a car.

In the early days, driving a car was a very involved affair.  Features we take for granted today simply didn’t exist; the automatic starter was not standard equipment in cars for many years. You had to physically crank the engine. You didn’t have a gear box or stick shift. There was no speedometer, water pressure or fuel gauge.  Driving a car was clumsy and hard.

In a similar way, early software engineering was tedious, painstaking and required a great deal of knowledge. The software pioneers had to be competent in many domains – being able to write instructions the computer could understand, how to write programmes to memory, how and where to store the data. All of this required the flicking of switches and the loading of punch cards or magnetic film in precise orders, making even small mistakes very costly.

Most people will agree that driving a modern car today no longer requires experience akin to having a doctorate in mechanical engineering. Similarly, software engineering has evolved such that it is no longer the exclusive domain of the dedicated IT professional.  In both these cases, over time, the relentless drive to make things easier, faster and more user friendly has meant that today pretty much anyone can drive a car, or build an application.

Chances are you are already familiar with the terms low-code and no-code application development platforms.  Essentially, they are what they say on the tin; low-code platforms started to make an appearance around three decades ago. Many of them born out of software houses’ desire to minimise repetitive, tedious very error prone tasks that are common when coding.  No-code platforms are a natural evolution of low-code, with the ambition being total obfuscation of the complexities of code.

 

Low-Code

Low-code platforms can be defined as tools that let you build software applications with a minimal amount of coding. Software developers can leverage pre-fabricated “blocks of code” to rapidly create applications.

Rather than focusing their efforts on hand-coding the application end-to-end, they these pre-fab code blocks to construct the application, and then use code for fine-tuning where and when desired.

In the strictest sense, low-code platforms require some level of coding knowledge, and this makes sense given that the target market, by and large, has been the existing IT department and software houses – these tools were designed to speed up what they were already doing, rather than trying to make software development more accessible to non-IT folk.  That said, some low-code platforms do also appeal to the non-coder and indeed are being used by them to great effect, for example in building MVPs which could then be handed over to the IT team to finish off and publish.

Low-code is markedly faster than hand-coding, and as a result projects are cheaper. Many prominent platform vendors feature use cases demonstrating 10x faster project delivery times compared to hand-coding approaches. This is one reason that Gartner estimates that the low-code market will be responsible for more than 65% of applications by 2024.

No-Code

While conceptually similar, no-code platforms go a step further and attempt to completely eliminate the need to write even a line a of code when creating an application. Boasting clean, intuitive graphical interfaces with point-and-click and drag-and-drop mechanics, no-code platforms are designed to be approachable to those outside the IT department. This is one of the fundamental drivers behind the growing global interest in the Citizen Development movement.

Users of no-code platforms have demonstrated orders-of-magnitude faster delivery times when compared to hand-coding and even low-code.  Application development projects that would ordinarily take months to simply mobilise, can now be delivered in a few days by a trained user of a no-code platform.

It is important to note that no-code platforms are not inherently better than low-code platforms. For the increase in speed, there is a reduction in control. Indeed, many organizations prefer their existing low-code platforms, given they are likely less locked-down and offer a greater level of flexibility and control.  There are numerous instances of core systems and highly complex applications that have been built using low-code platforms, but notably fewer examples on no-code platforms. 

It is also worth stating that low-code and no-code are sometimes used interchangeably and some platforms can justifiably be viewed as having both low-code and no-code characteristics (and catering to both the IT department and the non-IT business user at the same time). There are numerous no-code vendors out there that allow users to code, for example.

 

Conclusion

Low-code and no-code platforms have demonstrated incredible return on investment for those organizations that have taken the plunge.

  • Speed of build – Both low-code and no-code greatly accelerate the development process. Low-code can make the process 10x faster. No-code doubles this, and then some.

  • Less resource demand – Forrester estimates that there will be a deficit of 500,000 developers by 2024 in the US alone. With minimal understanding of programming required for low-code and no understanding of programming required by no-code, the typical business user can step in to fill this gap.

  • Rapid deployment – Time from build to deployment is significant reduced. Low-code and no-code are optimized for quicker decision making and lighter project governance. E.g. change requests applied in real-time, rather than being scheduled for periodic release cycles. It transforms how software is developed and reshapes how development teams are assembled and operate, with business resources taking the lead and minimal IT approvals required.

Posted by Arjun Jamnadass on: January 08, 2021 01:11 PM | Permalink | Comments (9)

Why Citizen Development Can Be a Game Changer for NGOs and Public

Administrations

Citizen development is an emerging trend that enables every person to create applications by using low-code / no code platforms. This new capability will change the way organisations and individuals work- for the better. Citizen development has the ability to reduce costs, increase productivity levels and reduce time to market.

There is a huge opportunity for Non-Governmental Organisations (NGOs) and Public Administrators to leverage Citizen Development.

The Nature of NGOs

NGOs operate under tight budgets. Generally speaking, they are dependent on donations to achieve their desired objectives.

Another characteristic of NGOs is their need to adapt and be flexible in critical situations such as social emergencies or even pandemics.

Opportunities to Leverage Citizen Development

There are many ways in which citizen development can be leveraged in order to improve NGO’s organizational landscape:

1.       Using citizen development, NGOs can support new organizational processes or substitute existing systems without spending a fortune.  

2.       It can enable NGOs to react to market dynamics in an agile manner by creating ad-hoc solutions which are grounded in citizen development apps.

3.       Citizen development can enable NGO’s to innovate in the way they reach to people in need much faster and at a fraction of the cost.

How Citizen Developers Can Help NGOs

There are a lot of ways in which citizen developers can help NGOs. Why not donate low code/no code applications to NGOs? Why not use your citizen developer skillset and donate your time to create solutions for these organisations?

The increase in use of citizen development opens up a new way of carrying out pro-bono projects for software developers. They can use their knowledge and skills to help NGOs. This it can be done at any level: local, regional or global.

If citizen development is used to leverage the social media reach of NGOs, it has the potential to become a greater enabler for impact. NGOs will then be able to adjust, iterate, learn and improve their in-house applications. 

Government

Having read about how citizen development can help NGOs, imagine how it could transform public administrations and governments. The typical political lifecycle lasts 4 years. The first year of every government is spent on getting to know the administration’s landscape. The next 2 years are spent implementing policy and executing projects and the last year is reserved to prepare for the re-election.

Citizen Development Opportunities for Government

In an environment where IT systems are frequently obsolete and development cycles usually last longer than the two year term politicians have to implement and execute, citizen development is a great opportunity.

If public administrators adopt citizen development, policy implementation and project execution can be carried out on time and within budget. Citizen development can also facilitate the maintenance of systems upgrades when funding is difficult to find or the capabilities are not in house and cannot be outsourced.

Citizen development also presents an opportunity for politicians to strengthen their engagement with local communities. Utilising much shorter development cycles, well within their political terms, it allows them to connect with citizens and consult, gather feedback and ultimately make an improved impact during their term.

Particularly at a local level. Imagine citizens of local communities getting involved in the development of new policies and how those come to life in the form of applications. Citizen development indeed!

Use Cases

There are plenty of examples where citizen development has been leveraged by governmental bodies during the Covid-19 pandemic.

One good example is the book-your-spot in the beach app which was deployed in Spain. Another example is the Covid tracing solution in Ireland. Both applications were created during the summer of 2020. The former is a basic booking management system while the latter is a database with personal information (replacing spreadsheets, word documents and even paper).

These are not complex systems. However, they have had a significant impact on the control and evolution of the pandemic. If this doesn’t show how citizen development can be used by governmental bodies for the greater good of all citizens, what does?

Replicability

Governmental bodies in Spain and Ireland have leveraged citizen development in order to satisfy the needs of their people. Both use cases are shareable among local, regional or national administrations.

They could even be made as an open source and replicated in the antipodes days, weeks or months later if the need arose. The good news is, such apps and solutions are already developed and available!

I expect that some countries will adopt several low code/no code platforms and use them to quickly develop niche solutions that might be scaled, changeable or re-used. These platforms can be used as a building block for more complex solutions.

Conclusion

It is evident that citizen development can be used to improve how organisations operate and react. A lot of articles have been created around the benefits that citizen development can bring to the business world in general.

This article sheds some insight into how citizen development can be used to increase the operational effectiveness of NGOs and public administrations. It shows how citizen development can leveraged to make a difference. There is a huge opportunity for NGOs and governmental bodies to adopt, innovate and scale citizen development in order to improve the wellbeing of many people and communities.

Posted by Octavio Arranz on: December 11, 2020 06:57 AM | Permalink | Comments (8)
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