Citizen Developer Governance: How to Manage It

Successful citizen development requires careful governance from IT departments.IT departments must embrace citizen developers who create task-oriented business applications. With proper IT oversight, companies can empower these workers to build secure business apps with outstanding user experiences.

Your organization needs mobile apps to drive daily business tasks, serve customers, and relay information and orders to/from the field. Unfortunately, you don't have enough software developers to get them all built. You're going to need citizen developers to get the job done.

Citizen developers are workers who don't report to IT but build applications to solve business problems. They use intuitive, low-code app development tools to create new business applications for consumption by other employees. Without proper oversight, enterprise standards for application development and security could be compromised.

Business workers are using more and more technology and SaaS tools to get their jobs done. IT departments can't ignore the trend or they'll find themselves in battle with business lines. Software developers and IT groups that support citizen developers will be more strategic to the overall enterprise. IT governance is imperative in these cases because, without proper oversight, enterprise standards for application development and security could be compromised.

The citizen developer movement is vital to organizations concludes a recent Gartner report, “The Future of Apps Must Include Citizen Development." The report also discusses the IT department's role in digitally transforming the enterprise by supporting these first-time business app developers.

Gartner analysts write: “Application leaders cannot ignore or block business unit led IT and particularly citizen development. Doing so will further diminish the value of the IT organization in the eyes of the business. In fact, the modern digital workplace requires cultivating citizen IT in order to maximize digital dexterity.”

What’s driving this movement? The ever-growing need for well-written business applications and the challenge of IT to deliver them directly. According to Gartner, 41% of IT departments have citizen development initiatives and 20% are either evaluating or planned to start initiatives.

41% of respondents have active citizen development initiatives and 20% are either evaluating or plan to start initiatives.

The report doesn’t just point to the importance of citizen developers for enterprises. It also offers recommendations for the ways in which IT can best guide and optimize the approach.

How to Foster Successful Citizen Development Programs

  1. Build Trust

Shadow IT, which can harm an enterprise’s overall digital strategy, occurs when IT and business users don't have mutual trust. Departments may start building insecure applications that work outside the normal workflow or don’t integrate with enterprise data and resources. Gartner suggests IT mitigate shadow IT risk by "working with business unit leaders to enlist citizen developers to establish trust."

  1. Foster a Community of Users Who Create Apps

IT must ensure that apps written by employees outside of IT are of the highest quality and follow enterprise standards. Gartner suggests encouraging self-governing citizen development practices by "fostering a community of practice (CoP) across business units and with IT.”

3) Find the Right Low-Code Platforms

When developing applications, business workers need guidance on the most effective tools, which means the apps they write can be problematic. Enterprises should focus on "joint business and IT selection of the right tools and enabling technologies" for citizen development says Gartner.

Govern New Business App Developers

Organizations are decreasing the app backlog by enabling a wide range of workers to build mobile apps. Learn to foster and govern the citizen developers with:

  • Predictions for how many business apps enterprises will need to build in the coming years
  • Practical examples of business analysts and domain experts building applications
  • What your organization must do to govern business app development in business units
  • Setting requirements for secure business apps built outside of the IT organization
  • The types of low-code app development platforms to consider for citizen development.


Download the Complete Guide to Citizen Development

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About Author

Amy Groden-Morrison
Amy Groden-Morrison

Amy Groden-Morrison has served more than 15 years in marketing communications leadership roles at companies such as TIBCO Software, RSA Security and Ziff-Davis. Most recently she was responsible for developing marketing programs that helped achieve 30%+ annual growth rate for analytics products at a $1Bil, NASDAQ-listed business integration Software Company. Her past accomplishments include establishing the first co-branded technology program with CNN, launching an events company on the NYSE, rebranding a NASDAQ-listed company amid a crisis, and positioning and marketing a Boston-area startup for successful acquisition. Amy currently serves as a Healthbox Accelerator Program Mentor, Marketing Committee Lead for the MIT Enterprise Forum of Cambridge Launch Smart Clinics, and on the organizing team for Boston TechJam. She holds an MBA from Northeastern University.

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