How Will Citizen Developers Disrupt Project Management?
The need for digital solutions has never been higher.
Remote work, increased competition, rising costs, and slimming margins have forced businesses to find new ways to streamline processes and workflows.
That’s led many companies to create Citizen Developer Programs, changing how organizations approach IT projects by democratizing application development.
As a result, a lot of project managers are questioning their future. After all, if everyone can easily build apps, where does project management fit into the process?
Change in the project landscape will continue to accelerate.
Project managers that adjust to these changes will succeed. Those who don’t will struggle to meet increasing demands in a rapidly shifting environment.
Here’s exactly how citizen developers will disrupt project management.
And what you can do to come out on top.
How Does Citizen Development Fit Into Project Management?
Typically, professional developers managed the entire application development process within IT. Unfortunately, that’s no longer feasible.
- 88% of IT leaders saw increased workloads in 2022.
- Two-thirds of major software projects are behind schedule.
- 77% of IT and 71% of businesses agree IT solution requests go unmet.
- 62% of organizations have growing IT backlogs.
IT teams are underwater, with demand showing no signs of slowing down. The only solution is for businesses to move application development outside of IT.
And that’s where the value of citizen development shines.
By allowing other teams to help with application development, you reduce the backlog, encourage innovation, and strengthen team collaboration.
To be clear, IT departments still need to manage complex projects, guide citizen developers, and work with project managers to ensure projects align with business needs.
Citizen development isn’t a free pass for application development to go rogue.
Rather, citizen developers are business users (not professional developers) and generally not leaders in the organization. They’re full-time employees with access to LCNC tools.
More so, they don’t have the 10,000-foot view that comes from being a project manager. Instead, they’re typically focused on their workflows and immediate pain points.
And that’s why project managers will continue to be important. Project managers can connect the dots between leadership, IT, and citizen developers to scale organizational change.
Still, effective project management looks different with citizen developers. And if you’re going to be successful, you need to adapt accordingly.
6 Ways Citizen Development Will Change Project Management
Project managers plan, procure, execute, and manage the completion of projects to ensure they stay within scope, cost, and timeline.
Citizen development is a boon to project managers, providing support to ensure project managers fulfill these roles. By embracing these benefits, project managers will quickly find they can accomplish much, much more.
1. Faster Development Time
Citizen developers can create applications up to 10x faster than traditional application development with low-code applications.
Even though professional developers differ from citizen developers, they can still use LCNC tools to create solutions faster than traditional application development.
LCNC increases output, meaning a faster time to market for more solutions. As a result, project managers will need to adjust timelines to account for rapid application development.
2. Cost Reduction
It’s much more affordable to build applications using LCNC platforms than to start from scratch. These are SaaS applications that charge based on use, so costs are lower. Faster development times reduce labor costs as well.
This is great news for project managers. More budget means teams can get more projects in the pipeline, speeding up digital transformation.
3. Easier to Conceptualize and Plan
It’s very difficult for project managers to conceptualize and plan complex projects that span months or even years. People overlook important aspects of these types of complex projects, leading to delays, increased costs, and expanding scope.
With Citizen Development, project managers work closely with business users to create built-to-suit solutions much faster. Plus, these projects are much easier to map out, reducing scope creep.
As an added bonus, project managers can build automated solutions to support project management using low-code platforms. This makes it easier to manage projects of all sizes.
4. Improved Data Insights
There are a lot of great applications out there businesses can use to provide additional features that customers and employees crave. Sadly, many of those systems don’t speak to each other.
This forces businesses to use tools like spreadsheets to move data between these systems. Spreadsheets are problematic, creating more menial work for people and increasing the chance of human error.
Building integrations between these systems is easy with citizen developers (or citizen integrators). As a result, you’ll get cleaner insights and more transparency across your organization.
Project managers can turn around and use that data to better plan new projects.
5. Faster (Overall) Digital Transformation
Citizen developers help automate processes driving results while giving businesses more time and resources to innovate.
Connected systems provide cleaner insights, leading to more data-backed decisions. All this feeds into business development. And that inspires the creation of more solutions.
It’s a positive feedback loop. And the momentum fuels change across the organization, leading to a leaner, more agile business that can better serve its customers.
This is essential when markets, demands, and (as a result) tools change faster than ever. The quicker project managers can adapt, the easier it will be for them to conquer rising challenges.
6. Increased Project Satisfaction
One of the most common complaints with IT-led solutions is that the final project doesn’t fit the exact use case. This is why change management is so challenging.
If a team doesn't like a solution, they’ll push back on it. This can lead to dissatisfaction, waste, and in most cases, shadow IT.
Citizen development increases the chances of adoption dramatically. Business users design solutions based on their needs, leading to higher satisfaction.
Will Project Managers Lose Their Jobs Because of Citizen Development?
Citizen developers will change the role of project managers. In short, project managers will either help govern citizen developers or lead as citizen developers in an organization.
Project managers who manage a citizen development project must follow the appropriate frameworks. Additionally, they must use the appropriate project management tools to assess whether or not citizen developers are right for the job.
If a citizen developer is right for the job, they'll work within established frameworks to create the necessary tool. And the project manager will work with IT teams to ensure the tool works properly.
Alternatively, project managers can work as citizen developers to create critical assets for business development using LCNC tools.
For example, project managers can automate work intake forms, product creation and launch, task delegation, reminders and notifications, and reporting. They can even build systems to identify bottlenecks.
This is much more efficient than using spreadsheets, email, and even paper notes to track projects. The old way of managing projects was time and resource expensive, leading to roughly 11.4% wasted investment due to project performance.
The new way of managing projects with citizen development leads to increased efficiency and collaboration.
Still, it becomes more complex when you move development outside of IT. After all, these tools need to be created within established IT frameworks.
And that’s why it’s critical for project managers to understand these platforms. It’s even better if they use them. Once project managers understand how LCNC tools work and their limitations, they can quickly decide whether or not the tool is right for the job.
In short, properly trained project managers help your business get more out of your citizen development initiatives.
How Do You Manage Citizen Developers?
Citizen development can't succeed without proper management.
Your developers need resources, frameworks, and governance in place to create a culture of innovation while keeping your developers and your business safe.
In fact, a lack of a central governance system is what keeps most business and IT leaders from adopting citizen development.
Broadly speaking, citizen developer governance should:
- Ensure Collaboration: IT teams must work together with developers to better understand IT processes and principles.
- Create Structure: Citizen developers need structure to ensure they do not create duplicate, redundant, or subpar applications.
- Provide Resources: Keep team members up-to-date and ensure best practices with a range of high-quality assets.
- Establish Guardrails: Ensure assets are secure and compliant to protect critical data.
- Facilitate Oversight: Keep projects aligned with the overall business mission and goal.
- Track Results: Gauge the success of implementations by collecting baseline data first and then tracking data after improvements.
Still, IT teams (already strapped for time) often don’t have the resources to stand up a citizen development program. And project managers have competing priorities, too.
This forces leaders to continue with a “business as usual” approach while burning through revenue, throttling efficiency, and limiting innovation.
Operational costs increase drastically. Margins get much smaller. And businesses churn through customers and employees trying to stay afloat without better systems.
That’s why Quandary Consulting Group works with businesses to support their citizen development programs.
We’re a team of expert low-code developers who use industry insights and experience to help businesses build, launch, and manage citizen development programs.
Without burdening existing teams with more demands.
Check out our case studies below to see the results we’ve helped our clients achieve.