Here’s Why IT Needs to Embrace the Citizen Development Movement


Chintan JainDirector of Product Marketing at Kissflow

Monday, October 10, 2022

Citizen development has the power to accelerate digital transformation, empower end-users and free up the resources of IT teams. Here's how you can embrace it.

Article 6 Minutes
Here’s Why IT Needs to Embrace the Citizen Development Movement
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Digital transformation is a team effort, but 86% of IT decision-makers say the biggest challenge facing their digital transformation initiative is not having enough software developers.

That’s where citizen development comes in. No-code/low-code platforms allow non-IT experts to build workflows/processes without software expertise. And they do it significantly faster and at a fraction of the cost.

Citizen developers leverage opportunities for using technology to make their work easier and more efficient. While end-users have always created their own solutions to enhance their productivity, organizations have recently started realizing the benefits of citizen development. Research shows that 80% of firms already consider citizen developers to be an essential part of their future success. 

This article will walk you through the key drivers for citizen development and the reasons why you should consider implementing it.

The drive behind citizen development

The demand for digitization and business app requests is too high, and there simply aren’t enough developers available. Citizen development frees up time for pro developers – using no-code/low-code tools with testing and approval capabilities, non-IT experts can create simple apps with IT oversight. This significantly reduces app backlogs and also relieves IT burnout. It also stops overworked developers from leaving your business.

60% of all business apps are now built outside the IT department. This allows professional coders to focus on writing code for enterprise-grade apps that require more expertise. When citizen developers build workflows/processes, costs go down as apps are created in a significantly quicker timeframe. Less coding means less time spent building apps, which results in lower costs. Automating workflows improves efficiencies, saving both time and money.

Apps built by citizen developers are still enterprise apps and are developed using IT best practices. A good no-code/low-code platform features pre-designed templates and drag-and-drop interfaces to help ensure consistency with IT best practices. It ensures citizen developers have an easier time creating apps. Since they are the requestors, they know the issues to solve and have the knowledge to create the solutions.

Tapping into the power of citizen developer

Citizen developers are problem-solvers who have the drive and determination to develop workflows/processes even though they lack coding skills. A company with a good citizen development program has happier employees and more efficient operations because IT is allowed to focus on more critical tasks and needs. Here’s why organizations should tap into citizen developer power.

1. Decrease the burden on IT

Organizations are always seeking to modernize and automate their business processes. And for processes to be automated, solutions have to be built. For a long time, IT departments were tasked with developing and deploying workflows/processes. But most IT teams only have the time and resources to work on the most pressing projects.

When citizen developers are empowered to create their own business workflows/processes, the pressure is taken off IT and processes are automated faster. 80% of organizations have benefited from citizen development, giving their IT teams more breathing room.

Because citizen developers are experts in their line of work, they understand all the processes and know the solutions that are needed – hi they know how best to improve workflows because they’re at the front line.

2. Make your business agile

Business agility is important because it helps a company to easily adjust to market changes as well as internal changes. Having a framework that prepares your company for change makes it more competitive. An agile organization can withstand market fluctuations, increased competition and even technological innovations.

Business agility calls for fast solutions, and dedicated citizen developers can create enterprise-grade solutions fast. They can deal with problems immediately instead of waiting for IT to help. Once issues are identified, they’re solved almost immediately.

3. Engage and empower your workforce

Engaged employees are 43% more productive, but most employees say the lack of developmental opportunities has often stopped them from reaching their full potential. Employee engagement is one of the top indicators in gauging work satisfaction because engaged employees have higher levels of productivity, deliver quality work and work for longer in companies.

But research shows that only one-third of American workers are engaged at work. Disengaged employees can create a negative work environment and also cause a company to lose money. Gallup reports that actively disengaged employees account for $450–$550 billion in lost productivity every year.

Employees want to be more engaged at work but say there are no opportunities for professional development. Empower your employees with citizen development. When employees build their own solutions, their morale, motivation and sense of belonging go up.

4. Boost IT and business productivity

A recent study showed that shadow IT has greatly increased over the last years. If left unchecked, shadow IT can create a lot of problems for IT. With citizen development, IT governs the development process. All apps are built on platforms approved by IT, allowing IT to monitor their quality and security.

Citizen development allows business users to build the productivity workflows/processes they need quickly. These apps allow them to do their jobs better, saving the company operational costs and reducing IT backlog. The IT team can focus on more complex projects like building enterprise-wide processes.

Why is a low-code/no-code platform the best choice?

A low-code/no-code platform reduces the development time as a user doesn't need to write each line of code. It’s an affordable substitute for traditional coding software. It incorporates digital demands and enhances the efforts of an organization. Users with and without programming skills can create apps rapidly and affordably. A low-code/no-code platform is a great option for delivering a simple solution, hypothesis testing or managing the initial project stages.

Citizen development is the future of work

Companies of all sizes all want to digitally transform their operations to stay competitive, boost productivity and adapt to a constantly changing business environment. But most companies rely heavily on their IT departments to build new processes for digital initiatives.

Most IT teams are overwhelmed with software requirements from different business units and are unable to fulfill them all. The rising cost of software further adds to the woes. This is where citizen development comes in. Non-IT users can create digital solutions quickly, allowing their companies to adapt to a dynamic business environment.

Final thoughts

A company with a good citizen development platform increases its productivity, competency and efficiency. Citizen development empowers individuals within organizations to leverage opportunities for change and eliminate inefficient processes. Companies that build workflows/processes more quickly improve operational efficiency, drive innovation and generate more revenue.

Chintan Jain

Chintan Jain is the Director of Product Marketing at Kissflow, unified low-code/no-code platform bridges the gap between business users and IT to simplify work management. Kissflow has more than 10,000 customers across 160 countries. Chintan is a skilled marketing practitioner who writes extensively on topics like workplace technologies, work management, and digital workplace. He also actively contributes to various business and technology platforms.


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