What is Citizen Development?
Citizen development is a business process that encourages non-IT-trained employees to become software developers, using IT-sanctioned low-code/no-code (LCNC) platforms to create business applications. This approach to software development enables employees , despite their lack of formal education in coding , to become citizen developers.
Citizen development has many benefits for both organizations and individuals. For organizations, it can increase productivity, innovation, agility, and customer satisfaction by empowering employees to solve problems and create solutions without relying on IT resources. For individuals, it can enhance their skills, creativity, autonomy, and career prospects by allowing them to learn new technologies and contribute to business value.
However, citizen development also comes with some challenges and risks. For example, citizen developers may create applications that are insecure, unreliable, incompatible, or redundant without proper guidance and governance from IT professionals. Moreover, citizen developers may face difficulties in maintaining, scaling, or integrating their applications with other systems as they grow more complex over time.Therefore, it is important for citizen developers to follow some best practices and principles when engaging in this process. Here are five tips that can help you succeed as a citizen developer:
- Align your application with business goals and needs. Before you start building your application, make sure you understand the problem you are trying to solve and the value you are trying to deliver. Identify your target users and stakeholders and gather their requirements and feedback. Define the scope and objectives of your application clearly and prioritize the features that matter most.
- Choose the right LCNC platform for your application. There are many LCNC platforms available in the market today that offer different capabilities and functionalities for different types of applications. Some platforms are more suitable for web applications while others are more suitable for mobile applications. Some platforms are more focused on data management while others are more focused on user interface design. Research the options carefully and select the one that meets your needs best.
- Follow IT standards and policies. Even though you are not an IT professional, you still need to adhere to the IT standards and policies set by your organization when developing your application. These include security protocols, data privacy regulations, quality assurance processes, documentation practices etc. You should also collaborate with IT experts regularly to ensure that your application is compatible with existing systemsand compliant with best practices.
- Test your application thoroughly. Before you launch your application or share it with others, you should test it thoroughly for functionality, performance, usability, and accessibility. You should also conduct user testing and collect feedback from potential users to identify any issues or areas for improvement.
- Maintain your application continuously.After you launch your application, you should monitor its usage and performance and fix any bugs or errors that may arise. You should also update your application regularly to keep up with changing business needs and user expectations. You should also consider scaling or integrating your application with other systems as it grows more complex over time.Citizen development is a powerful way to unleash your potential as a software developer without having extensive coding skills.By following these tips, you can create effective, efficient, and engaging applications that add value to your organization and yourself.
Citizen Development Tools: What They Are and How to Use Them
Citizen development tools are software platforms that enable citizen developers to create applications. They typically offer features such as drag-and-drop interfaces, pre-built templates, code libraries, integrations, data sources, security controls, testing tools, and deployment options.Citizen development tools can vary in their functionality and complexity depending on the needs and goals of the users. Some tools are more suitable for simple tasks such as automating workflows or creating forms, while others can handle more advanced scenarios such as building web apps or mobile apps.
Some examples of citizen development tools are:
- Mendix: This low-code platform is designed to accelerate application delivery and changes within an organization, without the need for professional IT developers.
- Microsoft PowerApps: This is a low-code platform for everyday users and professionals. It allows users to create apps that connect to various data sources and services.
- Nocode Essentials: This is a no-code platform that provides a collection of tools for building websites, landing pages, online stores, blogs, newsletters, and more.
- Salesforce Lightning Platform: This is a low-code platform that enables users to build custom apps on top of Salesforce's cloud-based CRM system.
- Zudy: This is a low-code platform that allows users to build enterprise-grade applications using natural language programming.
The benefits of using citizen development tools include:
- Reducing IT backlog and costs by empowering non-IT employees to create solutions themselves
- Improving business agility and innovation by enabling faster prototyping and testing of ideas
- Enhancing collaboration and communication between business units and IT departments by aligning them on common goals and standards
- Increasing customer satisfaction and loyalty by delivering better products and services faster
Citizen development also comes with some challenges and risks:
- Lack of governance and oversight by IT departments leading to security breaches, data loss, compliance issues, or performance problems
- Lack of quality assurance and testing resulting in buggy or unreliable applications
- Lack of scalability and maintainability causing difficulties in updating or integrating applications with existing systems
- Lack of skills and training among citizen developers leads to poor design choices or misuse of toolsTherefore, it is important for organizations to adopt a citizen development strategy that balances the benefits with the risks.
Some best practices for implementing citizen development projects:
- Establishing clear roles and responsibilities between IT departments and citizen developers
- Providing adequate training and support for citizen developers on how to use the tools effectively
- Setting up guidelines and policies for application development such as naming conventions, documentation standards, security requirements, etc.
- Creating a governance framework for monitoring, reviewing, and approving applications before deployment
- Leveraging existing platforms, tools, and resources such as PMI Citizen Developer education suite which provides templates, frameworks, and best practices for citizen development projectsCitizen development is a powerful way for organizations to leverage the potential of their non-IT employees and deliver better solutions faster. By choosing the right tools and following the best practices, citizen developers can create value for their businesses and customers alike.
Citizen development is a trend that empowers non-technical users to create applications and solutions without coding. It enables faster and more agile delivery of business needs, while reducing the burden on IT teams. However, citizen development also comes with some challenges, such as data security, scalability, and integration.
That's why I recommend ILLA Cloud as a low-code platform for citizen developers. ILLA Cloud is an open-source solution that allows you to build and deploy internal tools remarkably fast. You can easily connect to various data sources such as databases, API/GraphQL endpoints, SaaS tools, and cloud storage services. You can also add actions to chain user events and integrate data obtained from the back-end with front-end components.
ILLA Cloud offers two deployment options: private deployment and cloud deployment. You can use ILLA Cloud service for cloud deployment, which saves you the hassle of setting up your own infrastructure and lets you start building your app on any device. Or you can use a more secure local deployment option to protect your data privacy.
If you are looking for a low-code platform that is easy to use, flexible, and powerful, ILLA Cloud is a great choice. You can learn more about it on their website or check out their documentation.
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