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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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Engaging Stakeholders: A critical element to enterprise risk requirements

This post is the fourth in a series introducing you to elements on the PMI Citizen Development Canvas (see image below). These posts 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 last post, I introduced you to Business Analysis and Design. In this post, I will introduce you to Enterprise Risk Requirements. 

PMI CD Canvas - Enterprise Risk Requirements

Enterprise Risk Requirements is the component in the PMI Citizen Development Canvas that refers to functional and non-functional requirements within citizen development projects. It is also the area where the Citizen Developer identifies and manages other inherent project risks including stakeholder and communication risks. 

 

In this blog, I am going to focus on stakeholder risk and the importance of identifying, engaging, and communicating with them to improve the success rate of your project. 

 

Stakeholders - who are they and what role do they play?

 

A stakeholder is a person, group, or organization that has an interest in, or will be affected by, the application being developed. Stakeholders play a key role in the citizen development process. They help the Citizen Developer capture requirements and they provide valuable feedback. Stakeholders can be huge champions, or they can stop a project in its track.

 

Understanding who the stakeholders are, their influence, and how they perceive the project is critical, so one of the first steps in mitigating stakeholder risk is to create a stakeholder directory. 

 

Stakeholder Directories

Stakeholder directories come in all shapes and sizes, but in general, the directory lists the stakeholders, their roles, their influence, and their level of support for the project. This directory is used by the Citizen Developer and squad as a reference tool as they engage with the stakeholders throughout the project. 

 

Stakeholder Engagement Plan

In the course of creating the stakeholder directory, Citizen Developers will also be creating a stakeholder engagement plan. This will encompass how hands-on the stakeholders will be in the project, how and when they will receive status updates, and their expectations. Some stakeholders will be heavily involved in the build and by engaging them early on, it will encourage collaboration and feedback, create a stronger solution, and help reduce the potential for miscommunication. 

 

Capturing Requirements from Stakeholders.

Now that the stakeholders have been identified and an engagement plan has been created, stakeholder requirements can be gathered. Stakeholders help to identify app requirements and why they’re important. These requirements are typically functional requirements pertaining to the user experience or workflows. The requirement list provides direction and focus throughout the app development and it also acts as a checklist to make sure that the requirements have been met.

 

In my past blogs, I have shared situations where an app was created and the problem solved and they lived happily ever after, but the following situation is about a missed opportunity and a lesson learned.

 

What happens when a stakeholder stops it all.

 

Situation: A fast-growing urban non-profit was sinking in a swamp of details they couldn’t manage anymore. The organization was led by a small executive team and run by volunteers.  There were four lines of service, each led by a volunteer.

 

Before: The quality of service and communication was showing signs of stress. Volunteers were working extra hours to keep up with inefficient methods.

 

Process: A Citizen Developer who was familiar with the organization saw the situation and believed an app could solve the chaos and help scale the organization efficiently. He presented the idea of a low-code/no-code (LCNC) app to the executive team (Enterprise Stakeholders). They liked the idea of an app and introduced the Citizen Developer to the volunteer leaders of the four lines of service. He met with each one to demonstrate a prototype and to discuss how the app could save them time and improve their service.

 

Three of the four volunteer leaders saw the app as a solution, but the fourth felt the expense was unnecessary. She was happy to work the extra hours to save money. She would not budge from her position and even though the executive team felt the expense was worth the saving, they bent to her wishes.

 

After: The Citizen Developer dropped the project. The organization and its volunteers continued to struggle and count on volunteer overtime to succeed.

 

Missed opportunity and lesson learned:

While the non-profit was still in its infancy and developing its structure, it had an opportunity to quickly and cost-effectively solve an operational issue that was only going to get worse. The organizational structure had no real leader which made it difficult when the solution was presented. They missed a huge opportunity. 

 

The Citizen Developer learned a valuable lesson. He skipped a few steps and dove right into solving the problem before fully understanding the stakeholders, their roles, and their influence. Had he spent a little more time engaging the stakeholders and listening to their concerns and pain points, he may have been able to alleviate the cost concerns with the resistant stakeholder. This was a valuable lesson to learn.

 

Some tips from my experience:

  1. Identify the stakeholders quickly and engage them as soon as you can.
  2. Communicate with stakeholders. Find out what their expectations and requirements are.
  3. Listen and ask questions. Find out the stakeholder's pain points, needs, and perspective, not just about the solution, but the project in general. 

 

Stakeholders are crucial to the build and the ongoing success of the project. If the stakeholders aren’t supportive, you’re in for a steep climb that may not be worth the risk.

 

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: April 16, 2021 01:33 PM | Permalink | Comments (7)

Citizen Development is a Game-Changer. But it’s Not Always the Right Option.

Introduction

Many of us, whether in work or otherwise, have at some point had the thought, “it would be handy if there was an app for this.”  We may even have fantasized about how this hypothetical app would work. It would be tailored to our exact requirements and have no extraneous nonsense we didn’t want or need. If only we knew how to code.

I don’t know how to code. And I will never know how to code. Don’t get me wrong, coding is a wonderful skill to obtain and I’d happily have Tank upload the relevant programs to my brain if I lived in the Matrix. But I don’t (I think…), so building applications is something outside the realms of possibility for someone like me. Or at least it was.

The Citizen Development Revolution

Citizen development is snatching power from the coding elite and placing it in the hands of creative problem solvers. No more claiming that your magnificent idea got lost in translation and the developer botched it. You’re the developer.

That painfully convoluted, multi-system reporting process in your department? Build a quick web app to streamline it.

Those paper-based onsite inspection forms that require manual, error-prone data entry? Build yourself a purpose-built inspection app and finally make use of the tablet your mum got you for Christmas.

That time you worked in a Dutch timber company and needed to optimize your business processes by developing stock and order management software? (We’ve all been there) https://wem.io/stock-and-order-management-software-with-no-code-2/.

In short, citizen development is a game-changer, but… It’s not always the right option.

The Brown Sauce Conundrum

In our excitement at the endless possibilities engendered by the citizen development revolution, my team and I wanted to use it for everything. But just because brown sauce tastes great, doesn’t mean you should put it in your tea.

Our first target was to create a customized learning management system (LMS) to host eLearning content that we were creating. We were all excited by the challenge of creating a bespoke LMS. However, it turned out that so were a lot of others, and they had created excellent, reasonably priced LMS platforms that met all our needs.

Anyone who has read PMI’s Citizen Development book may recall the first question in the Environment Check section of the Suitability Assessment: Is there an app on the market that satisfies your requirements for this solution?

If the answer is yes, the book poses further questions regarding whether you require the flexibility to make changes to this app in the future, and whether purchasing a market app would be cheaper than building your own. After asking ourselves these questions, it was clear that in this instance we were better served by using what was already on the market.

But We Already Have One

Sometime later, we were building an online community for a client, and needed a platform on which to host it. We knew exactly how we wanted it to function and were sure that with the aid of citizen development we could quickly make it a reality. And we nearly did.

But it soon came to our attention that there was already a community platform in use in another area of the organization. Was it exactly what we had envisaged? No, it wasn’t. But it was close enough, it was paid for, and we could leverage it for little extra cost.

The second question in the Environment Check asks: Is there a tool within your organization that satisfies your requirements for this solution? There was. So we used it.

The Future of App Development

Since then we have built numerous apps using citizen development (a sales tracker, an events management app, a customer portal, a reporting tool), and we’re continuously seeing more ways in which the technology can be applied.

There are of course those that still feel citizen development is all hype and no substance: I recently received feedback from a software developer who told me that citizen development was nothing but a “buzzword” that he’d never heard before and was sure he’d never hear again (we might need to add an eighth entry to this list: https://www.pcworld.com/article/155984/worst_tech_predictions.html). For my money, however,  if Amazon (Honeycode), Google (AppSheet) and Microsoft (PowerApps) are pouring mega-millions in to it, and Forbes and Gartner are backing it, it’s safe to say that it’s more than just a fad. It’s the future of app development.

And while it may not always be the right option, when it is, get ready to save a lot of money and a lot of time.

Posted by Richard Earley on: March 11, 2021 12:16 PM | 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)

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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