Businesses need digital solutions now, more than ever.

The pandemic accelerated demand, driving businesses to adopt remote work environments. More competition, market uncertainty, and rising consumer expectations increased that demand exponentially. Rising labor costs and inflation will only drive demand further.

If you want to compete, your business needs digital solutions.

Unfortunately, programmer shortages only complicate matters. There simply aren’t enough developers to build the software solutions businesses need. They can’t keep up.

This slows growth, forcing businesses to table initiatives that could improve processes for both customers and employees.

Fortunately, the citizen development movement can reduce the impact of programmer shortages by democratizing software development.

With an effective citizen development program, businesses can build the digital solutions they need within existing budgets and without hiring additional programmers.

Here’s how.

Why Is There a Programmer Shortage? (4 Reasons)

According to the US labor department, there were 1.6 million open software development jobs in 2021. And by 2030, the global talent for tech jobs shortage is expected to reach 85.2 million.

This lack of programming talent will have a major impact on businesses. Many will struggle to meet increasing expectations because they can’t create the features and solutions customers crave. As a result, companies will miss out on $8.4 trillion in potential revenue globally.

The programmer shortage is a real threat to business stability and development.

And unfortunately, it’s not a problem that can be fixed by waiting for more people to learn how to code. The current situation is a cycle that feeds on itself.

Here’s how.

1. Increased Demand for Digital Solutions

Gartner predicts IT budgets will grow 5.1% in 2023, despite economic uncertainty.

While IT leaders will be more careful with the digital initiatives they choose to pursue, cutting down spending isn’t an option.

Companies need to stay competitive.

Customer and employee demand will continue to increase. Customers expect better services and features. Employees expect a reduction in manual tasks and better data insights, so they can meet established KPIs.

Without both, your customers and your employees will look elsewhere.

And unfortunately, you can’t satisfy those needs without digital solutions.

That’s why the demand for transformative business solutions is stronger than ever:

Competition and increasing expectations will continue to drive the need for digital solutions that help businesses scale growth.

That’s not going away anytime soon.

2. Continuously Changing Expectations

Customer and employee expectations rise and change quickly.

There's constant competition in the tech space that drives innovation. Businesses release new applications with new features and updates regularly.

Employees hear about new tools or how other businesses seamlessly connect their systems, and they expect the same in their workplace.

Additionally, younger workers are more tech-savvy and not okay with menial tasks when they can quickly find applications that can streamline their workflows.

At the same time, other companies expand their features and services to provide optimal user experiences. Whether e-commerce or B2B, it doesn’t matter. Customers expect a smooth buyer’s journey. And they’ll gravitate toward businesses that offer that.

It’s a constant state of growth and competition.

All these requests end up as tickets programmers have to manage. Backlog grows. And developments get delayed. IT departments move as fast as they can. But by the time new updates roll out, there’s a list of new requests.

It seems endless.

To make matters worse, developers need a growing tech stack to manage their workloads. As a result, the bar for programmers continues to rise, making it harder to maintain that skill set.

And this makes it all but impossible to catch up.

3. More Complex Projects

Software development projects are more complex. Rather than using a single, on-premise system, businesses rely on sprawling tech stacks often hosted in the cloud.

Companies under 50 employees use around 16 SaaS applications on average. That increases to 24 applications for companies with up to 100 employees.

This doesn’t include other business applications and tools.

As businesses grow to meet increasing customer and employee expectations, they have to integrate these systems into their existing tech stacks. They often have to build unique, custom applications to fit specific use cases.

Either way, these projects need skilled developers to navigate their complexities while ensuring security, compliance, and quality.

The larger the business, the more complex that technical web gets.

Enterprise organizations can afford to acquire more programmers to help facilitate these changes (in most cases). This drives up the demand and cost for programmers, making it more difficult for smaller organizations to fill tech jobs.

4. Burnout (Toxic Environment)

Having said all this, it’s not surprising that IT developers are frequently burnt out and leave their jobs.

The Mayo Clinic highlights the four main risk factors for burnout:

  • Heavy workload and long work hours
  • Difficulty achieving work-life balance
  • Working in a support position
  • Having little or no control over work

Programmers struggle with work expectations regularly, despite high salaries.

They have to deal with a never-ending list of requests. Plus, they have to manage increasing pressure to finish tasks in a field where it seems impossible to get ahead.

And the stats illustrate this:

Programmers are often at odds with managers and team members over priorities. The teams are often siloed, creating miscommunication and frustration between departments.

As a result, 58% of security and software developers experience burnout. And when programmers are burnt out, they leave their jobs.

Even if you manage to hire new software developers, they’re less likely to stick around.

All this keeps businesses from building momentum toward transformative changes.

What Is the Impact of Tech Shortages?

Without digital innovation, businesses are extremely limited.

Most effective cost-cutting methods involve digital solutions. For example, automating invoices or integrating applications to streamline reporting requires software.

Without software, there’s only so much you can do to reduce costs.

Innovation also slows down without programmers. Employees are discouraged from thinking outside the box. They know that any process improvements they suggest will be ignored because their organization lacks the resources to make positive changes.

It’s pointless.

Without innovation and cost reduction, business development slows down.

Companies can’t remain competitive. Customers leave for competitors that offer what they need. Revenue drops. And businesses go from being proactive to reactive as they try to stay afloat.

The Need for a New Approach to Hiring Developers

With the increasing demand for professional programmers and solutions, businesses need to rethink how they approach software development.

Citizen developers offer a simple solution.

Citizen developers are full-time employees that use low-code and no-code platforms to build business solutions without technical knowledge.

Using various low-code platforms, citizen developers can rapidly build custom applications, integrations, and automations to streamline workflows.

They work with IT teams, leveraging their unique business experience to create custom digital solutions that fit their unique needs. And because they better understand the tools, workflows, and necessary features, they can create more effective solutions.

Adoption rates are high. Customer satisfaction is higher. And the results are impressive.

How Citizen Development Can Reduce Programmer Shortages

Leveraging citizen developers to combat programmer shortages can help you stay on track for your digital initiatives while reducing your reliance on programmers.

In fact, Gartner predicts that by the end of 2023, active citizen developers will outnumber professional developers by 4 to 1 at large enterprises.

More citizen developers. Less reliance on professional developers.

This is why:

Citizen development breaks down departmental silos by inspiring collaboration between developers and business users. This leads to more productivity among teams.

Still, citizen developers aren’t programmers. They may have a technical background, but they’re not IT experts. As a result, effective citizen development programs require IT oversight.

In short, citizen developers need to work within established frameworks. Sandbox environments, for example, encourage citizen developers to innovate. Clear compliance and security guidelines protect the business. And a set of standards for application development ensures team members create high-quality solutions.

Once those frameworks are in place, citizen developers can innovate safely. They are empowered to test out ideas and solutions, knowing they can’t disrupt business functions.

This means that citizen developers can lean on their business experience (instead of your IT teams) to build their custom solutions. And because they’re closer to the problem, their solution is much more likely to work better.

All the while, IT can move away from menial application builds and focus more on governance. This scales application development and process improvement without needing to hire additional programmers.

Instead, your IT resources can focus on more business-critical tasks while your citizen developers handle easier tasks.

Citizen development is essentially a force multiplier for your IT team.

It redistributes work, allowing businesses to reduce their dependence on professional developers. There are fewer bottlenecks, slowdowns, backlogs, and, ultimately, a reduction in burnout.

As an added benefit, low-code applications can scale development drastically.

This makes it easier for developers and citizen developers to create more applications. Ultimately, you can create more applications with fewer programmers on staff.

Next Steps: Implementing Citizen Development

While the benefits are immense, you must properly set up your citizen development program. This means having the proper governance models and training in place to guide your citizen development team to success.

It would be a mistake to assume citizen developers will follow IT best practices to keep your business secure and compliant.

Remember: they’re not professional developers. They’re tech-savvy employees with an understanding of low-code platforms.

They need guidance and support. Without it, they can do more harm than good.

That’s why Quandary Consulting Group helps businesses stand up and govern citizen development programs.

We provide the resources, training, and frameworks you need to get the most out of citizen development while reducing risk and disruption to your business.

Ready to launch your citizen development program? Reach out to us today!