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The Citizen Developer Revolution: How to Enable and Support Developers

What is a citizen developer? 

A citizen developer is a business user, usually with little or no coding expertise, who is able to develop their own applications, for the use of others or themselves, by leveraging easy-to-use software, such as low-code or no-code platforms. 


The start of a revolution

As organizations ramp up their digital transformation plans to keep up with competitors, it has put pressure on IT teams to deliver new business applications. It’s not always easy to find new IT talent with the knowledge required to build applications from scratch. 

Enabling citizen developers to map and automate their own processes using low-code or no-code platforms, they don’t have to wait for developers to write code and develop applications for them. This means that ideas can be realized more quickly, seeing faster solutions to business problems. 

According to Gartner, 41% of employees outside of IT are now involved in either building or customizing technology solutions for their organization. The analyst predicts that half of all new low-code clients will come from business buyers that are outside the IT organization by the end of 2025.

Discover more about the Citizen Development revolution in our eight-part video series with Sandy Kemsley.

 

Support citizen developers with a low-code automation platform

Citizen developers are often business users with an idea they want to action. Working in the trenches, they see first-hand what problems they and their colleagues experience day-to-day. But in the past, these business users would have to communicate the issue to IT and leave it with them to find and develop a solution.

Now, platforms which require little technical expertise to develop applications are available for business users to get hands-on and develop their own solution without waiting for IT – who are therefore more able to focus on alternative priorities. 

For example, low-code automation platforms are designed to enable non-technical or semi-technical staff outside the IT organization to be involved in or lead automation and transformation projects, depending on requirements. Some business-friendly low-code tools are limited to simpler projects, but the most powerful tools are those that fit into this business-friendly category, but are also powerful enough to deliver against complex requirements. 

At Deutsche Post DHL, they are enabling process analysts to develop their own workflows ready for automation with Bizagi. The Global Business Services team of the leading global logistics organization is working on digitizing and automating several processes, and have already seen great success with their Vendor Master Data Management Portal, a vital part of the procurement process which is used by over 280,000 employees. Using Bizagi, they were able to build a custom solution on Bizagi Sites, adding more complex elements when necessary. 

“Bizagi allows us to implement more complex processes, interpreting really complex data input structures for users, but with a low-code approach,” said Stefan Wenzel, Head of ERP Platform Design and Digitalization. “What’s important to us is that we enable our process analysts to work at a very high level, especially in the area of workflow implementation. They can simply be faster with very little technology expertise.” 

 

Enable citizen developers with support from IT

One of the major organizational benefits of citizen developers is that they can share the burden of development with IT by carrying out fewer technical development projects. However, it should be noted that business users shouldn’t be allowed to go rogue. This is sometimes seen in the form of Shadow IT, which can lead to ineffective working and applications that aren’t compliant and don’t follow best practice. 

In Gartner’s definition of citizen developers, they declare that they must be “sanctioned by corporate IT”. Indeed, having the support of the IT function is vital if a citizen developer program is to succeed in your organization.

Low-code automation platforms are an effective way to avoid Shadow IT, as they offer a standardized approach to process modeling and automation, which means that business users can help themselves, while IT can rest happy in the knowledge that best practices are being followed on an approved secure platform. 

It’s worth noting that low-code and no-code platforms won’t eliminate the need for developers. Having software and programs in place to enable citizen development allows companies to be more agile as more people can work to respond to customer or market needs through digitally-led operational change. 

Using a low-code automation platform also empowers citizen developers to be more involved in business transformation. Using process as a common language, they can create their own processes and join in with conversations about change in the form of process automation and application development.

Find out more about how a low-code automation platform can enable citizen developers in your organization to drive transformation in your business. 

 

 

Download our Ultimate Guide to Low-Code Automation for more details on how to enable your citizen developers as well as best practices for adopting low-code automation across your enterprise. 

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