If applications are needed but IT staff is not available adequately – who do you call? The key to a faster result is a “Citizen Developer”!
Reading time: Approximately 5 min.
Yes, it’s true: Digitalization affects all of us. Nevertheless, many companies are still struggling with it. In many cases, outdated systems, software or – even worse – paper forms are still in use. Unfortunately, this annoys the company´s customers.
This is neither good for the company nor for the employees, because:
- it results in poor user experiences and frustrated customers
- the IT department will get a poor reputation
It is actually a pity when you consider that there are approaches to avoid both.
To prevent this, IT provides business users with development platforms to create applications themselves that:
- Increase productivity
- automatise workflows and
- support teamwork in a modern way
Those users are called “Citizen Developers”.
But what is the problem´s origin?
The reason for the problem: The IT department often does not have enough time to take care of the huge number of requirements that arise from all departments. Especially not simultaneously.
However, from the perspective of time and money, many departments can’t wait until IT can implement these special requirements into a solution. Therefore, employees from these departments often find their own solutions – and this is not always to the IT’s delight.
Curtain Call for “Citizen Development”
“Citizen Developers” usually do not have any special IT or programming knowledge. However, due to their technical understanding, they have often created their own solutions – whether with Excel, Access, Lotus Notes or similar software. Some of these solutions have been developed without the knowledge or assistance of the IT department.
“Citizen Developers” – in many cases they are responsible and experts in processes within the business department – are ideally predestined for the creation of business department applications, as they know exactly what problems their own departments have and how these have to be solved.
Considering “Citizen Developers” as problem solvers, they are not necessarily a completely new trend, but right now companies increasingly realize the importance of these resources.
But why do companies now see this as such? It is necessary to consider two different perspectives to understand this.
This is how the IT-experts consider it
On the one hand, there is the interest of the IT department: Their main task is to ensure that the daily operations run as smoothly as possible, which means, for example, that all administration is running well. But this is definitely not the only task.
Especially the IT managers are supposed to make the impossible possible: While having to constantly keep the IT infrastructure up-to-date, they are expected to develop applications that meet the high expectations of both: management and customers.
Moreover, their staffing capacity is often too small to realise all projects and corresponding objectives. In fact, nowadays there are quite simply not enough developers on the market. By the end of 2019, 32% of German companies were looking for new developers.
Considering this situation, it would be quite contraproductive if the application development could be done by a few developers only. Accordingly, it would be in everyone’s interest to involve the “citizen developers” in the development process so that the IT department does not solely concentrate on maintenance but also on “creative” topics as well.
The IT has to swallow its pride
There is another important reason why IT should do this: To keep control of the “shadow” IT. If business users don’t get the support they need, they are forced to fall back on unapproved applications and tools. Unfortunately, IT will not completely have these solutions on its radar. In addition to this, this can result in major security risks, knowing that IT only protects assets that it knows about.
This business-related view has to be considered
Technologies and IT have already arrived in our everyday life. Customers in their private contexts become familiar with the use of applications that are mobile, simple and fast. At the same time, the learning and understanding process rises continuously. This doesn’t mean that customers and specialist departments become IT experts, but as a result of daily use of new technologies, the requirements in business are also constantly growing. If today’s consumers can easily submit applications online, the consequence is that this expectation also occurs in business life.
It is even worse when the bad experience of employees also affects customers: In many cases, companies still work with a large number of Excel spreadsheets and inconvenient Word documents.
If a customer service representative calls a customer, he or she often encounters data quality issues that is still normal in some back offices. In a worst-case scenario, this can result in dissatisfied employees and customers.
This shows us very clearly that users essentially need a basic set of three things to do more than just get their job done satisfactorily:
- The right technology
- The right processes
- The right IT support
“Citizen Developers” and Low-Code
The central goal of “Citizen Development” is to enable business users to build applications with technology that is “approved” by IT and easy to manage.
Low-code platforms offer this possibility. With these, applications can be created a lot faster and thus easier and more cost-efficient
Low-code platforms thereby help “Citizen Developer” to complete their main task: To create applications that increase productivity in their departments, as well as optimize existing business processes. Needless to say, this is not done in competition to their IT, but as a helpful support. A low-code platform allows the “Citizen Developer” to create ideas that benefit the entire company