How Citizen Development Supports IT
61% of stakeholders estimate that the implementation of IT ideas occurs only half of the time. This is because there aren't enough software developers and IT is overwhelmed with tasks.
And Forrester estimates that this is only getting worse.
Still, businesses that want to stay competitive and relevant need to figure out a way to digitize their processes.
Citizen Development offers a solution by removing the burden from your busy IT staff. Instead, it allows employees with no coding experience to create their own low-code or no-code applications. This allows your business to meet demands without overwhelming or expanding your IT department.
Below, we’ll discuss 8 ways citizen development can support your IT department and improve your business as a whole.
8 Ways Citizen Developers Can Support Your IT Department
1. Reduces Pressure on IT
IT teams manage a multitude of overwhelming tasks. The ticket backlog is constant. In fact, IT workers are so overwhelmed that 82% of them have experienced burnout.
When professional developers have too much on their plate, business output suffers and workplace culture takes a hit:
- Security threats fall through the cracks.
- IT struggles to create the solutions you need.
- Customer demands go unmet.
- Employee and customer churn increases, wreaking havoc on your business.
Citizen development reduces that burden by empowering team members to create apps directly without relying on IT.
This allows IT to focus on critical projects while reducing the number of requests they have to manage. Even better, programmers can catch up on work, reducing burnout and turnover rates for already hard-to-fill IT positions.
2. Helps Combat Shadow IT
Shadow IT is when your employees use unapproved third-party apps to complete tasks at work.
Shadow IT can put a business at risk. Your IT establishes software guidelines, vets, and approves applications to protect sensitive data and IP.
While these processes reduce risk to the business, it creates a long approval process for new applications. And this roadblock strains employees eager to use new applications that can make their work lives easier.
As a result, numerous employees use apps without approval. The frustration between IT and departments grows. Productivity and collaboration drop. After all, it’s easier to ask for forgiveness than permission.
Citizen development allows employees to create the automations, integrations, and applications they need to do their jobs faster. Instead of waiting on IT to vet and approve new tech, they can build what they need on IT-approved tools.
3. Inspires Innovation
Companies use numerous, risky spreadsheets and turnkey applications to work. While turnkey applications are ready to go out of the box, they lack the customization needed to address the specific needs of the business.
In other words, they're inflexible.
Citizen development eliminates the need for expensive, custom application builds that force businesses to adapt their workflows to the applications. Instead, it opens the door for affordable, quick-to-market tools.
Low-code and no-code tools inspire citizen developers to rethink workflows and processes. By empowering them to build the solutions they need, these platforms inspire employees to create better ways of working.
For example, an employee can build a simple workflow for automating invoice payments. They can tailor the process to their specific needs, and save hours each week on manual data entry.
4. Speeds Up Digital Transformation
Citizen development allows employees to build applications faster without the need for IT involvement.
Without citizen development, traditional apps require significant amounts of time to create. From start to finish, it can take 4 - 12 months to build a custom application.
With low code, you can create custom applications in days or even a few hours. On average, citizen developers can create low-code applications 62% faster.
As an organization looking to digitize its processes, the ability to rapidly create custom, digital solutions means that you can quickly transform your business.
5. Reduces IT Expenses
Traditional application development is very expensive.
Low-code application development is much cheaper. These are SaaS platforms, so costs scale with licensing and usage. The more you use the platform, the more it costs. But, the costs are lower than custom builds from scratch.
Also, developing in-house apps reduces the need to purchase third-party applications or outsource IT tasks. Instead, you can create the solutions you need on the low-code platform.
You’ll also reduce costs by reducing the number of developers you’ll need to rely on to create solutions. Citizen developers have other, full-time jobs in your organization.
So, you don’t necessarily need to run out and hire citizen developers. (Though you can if your organization has a budget and needs for them.)
6. Provides Additional Resources
Rather than building business applications from scratch, professional developers can reap the benefits of low-code just like your citizen developers.
Low-code platforms allow professional developers to easily create apps that would otherwise take them hours to complete. These platforms are highly visual and use prefabricated snippets of code that make building applications faster and easier.
That means your IT department can rely on them to knock out other tasks.
7. Improves Productivity
If your IT department is underwater, they can’t deliver the automation and integration needed to streamline workflows in your organization.
Automation removes the need to carry out manual, repetitive tasks. And businesses are plagued by these time-wasters:
- Employees spend 1.8 hours daily (9.3 hours a week) searching and gathering information.
- 41% of stressed workers say stress leads to a loss in productivity.
- In 60% of jobs, one-third of the tasks required by employees could be automated.
- 54% of employees believe they can save 2 hours of work each day through automation.
- The average office worker is productive for 2 hours 53 minutes out of a working day.
Manual processes are very time-consuming and costly.
Without digitized processes, your team is wasting time and money working on tasks that could be automated. But your team still has to meet KPIs and deliver results, despite these inefficiencies. This increases stress and fuels burnout.
It doesn’t have to be this way.
Citizen development empowers employees to build automated solutions to their problems. As a result, they can reduce unnecessary tasks and increase their productivity business-wide.
8. Promotes Collaboration
Typically, other departments view IT as an obstacle.
Team members need to do their job and meet their KPIs. But, they can’t do that if they have to wait for IT to approve an application or complete a ticket.
There is also a lack of empathy from team members who don’t fully understand what goes into the application development process. They want what they want now. And they don’t understand why it takes so long.
Citizen development unsilos IT. Low code platforms democratize software development, empowering team members in the application development process.
Still, citizen development needs guardrails and governance. As a result, citizen developers can work with IT directly to accomplish more. With the right approach, employees can better work together to understand and achieve business goals.
How to Secure Pain-Free Citizen Development Adoption
Companies are hesitant to adopt citizen development. Some companies believe that it will introduce new security and integration risks or data loss. Others fear that it will lead to more work for them.
However, with the right planning and training, this isn’t an issue. That’s why governance is key to ensuring you get the most out of your citizen developers.
The following tips will help your organization embrace citizen development:
Embrace the Citizen Development Culture
Encourage your employees to experiment with the approved low-code platform to find unique solutions to their complex problems.
With the right culture and attitude toward citizen development, your developers will feel empowered to take more creative risks.
You want to set limitations and guardrails in place by providing safe, sandbox environments for your citizen developers to work. This allows them to experiment without risk, fueling their creativity and driving more unique solutions.
Go one step further and reward employees for their ingenuity.
Incentives will further motivate other employees to look for ways to streamline how work gets done in your organization. In the end, everyone wins.
Provide Transparent Accountability
Creating transparent citizen development policies that promote accountability improves the success of your citizen development program.
By establishing clear responsibilities, expectations, and roles for both the IT department and citizen developers, your team can better collaborate and reach their goals.
Everyone will know what’s expected of them and where they can go to get support.
Transparency also ensures that employees have access to the tools, resources, and training they need to get the most out of your low-code platforms.
This reduces the reliance your citizen developers will have on IT staff, helping them work independently.
There will be both success and failure. And sharing both with your team will allow your team to learn and grow quickly.
Finally, leadership needs to be accountable for embracing citizen development from the top down. Otherwise, any initiative will fall apart.
Establish governance policies
Although the benefits to citizen development are significant, poorly managed citizen developers can result in unnecessary exposure to risk.
Numerous, random applications. Copies of the same applications. Ineffective use of the platform. No adherence to IT policies. Without governance, citizen development can turn into the wild west.
Instead, you need to work with IT to establish clear governance policies that will prevent problematic software vulnerabilities.
Managers should work with the IT department to control access in order to avoid IT security problems. Also, limited access prevents citizen developers from using unnecessary tools.
While citizen development can reduce IT burdens, your developers will still need to provide oversight.
The IT department should monitor citizen development projects to ensure quality application builds that are compliant. And they should work with developers to create better solutions. Finally, they should know when to take over complex projects that are beyond the citizen developers' capabilities.
This will reduce complications for IT later on as unchecked problems can snowball into major issues.
Help Your Citizen Developers Support IT
At Quandary, we empower our clients to transform their processes and workflows faster. And we help organizations adopt, train, and deploy citizen developers for a range of projects.
As business transformation experts, we leverage the experience of our team to help organizations build custom low-code applications that exceed expectations and streamline workflows.
Our goal is to work as your long-term partner, providing guidance and support to ensure your citizen development team aligns with your business goals and vision.
Want to get the most out of your citizen development program?