"By 2023, the number of active citizen developers at large enterprises will be at least four times the number of professional developers.”
A lot has been written about the benefits of citizen development. But not much has been written about what kinds of skills are required for citizen development or how someone can become a citizen developer. This resources covers:
Citizen developers typically use different kinds of tools than traditional IT, and they approach programming in a different way as well. Rather than use traditional programming techniques, they use citizen developer platforms, typically low-code/no-code tools. Because they don’t work for IT, and instead are business experts and domain experts, they approach problems from a business point of view. So they generally don’t write enterprise applications, and instead, write apps that solve highly targeted business problems.
Do these new app creators matter? Yes they do. IT is under intense pressure to deliver solutions for digital transformation and process automation. At the same time there is an enormous shortage of skilled developers to work with business users to build business applications.
It’s simple. Without formal training, these new users can do their own problem solving and build applications that take pressure off IT. These workers can solve the problem of companies not being able to hire enough professional developers, make sure that the right apps get developed quickly, and reduce cost and improve productivity.
More companies now realize the value of having experienced business experts build the apps they and their colleagues use for business tasks. In fact, Gartner predicts that citizen developers will soon outnumber traditional developers in organizations by 4-to-1.
Let’s start with the basics: Who can be a citizen developer? To understand that, let’s first take a look at how Gartner defines “citizen developer”: “A citizen developer is an employee who creates application capabilities for consumption by themselves or others, using tools that are not actively forbidden by IT or business units. A citizen developer is a persona, not a title or targeted role. They report to a business unit or function other than IT.
“All citizen developers are business technologists. However, all business technologists are not necessarily citizen developers. There is no required designation of proficiency or time allocation for citizen developers but they must be legal employees of an organization.”
Taking that a bit further, a citizen developer is someone with intimate knowledge of a company’s business practices and workflows, and knows enough about technology to write apps or applications to improve them. They should also have people skills and be able and willing to cooperate with multiple departments.
All this means that citizen developer skills include a mix of business expertise, technical knowledge, and the ability to work closely with others.
So, what makes a good citizen developer? The article, “What Is a Citizen Developer?” points to these traits:
By definition, these business leaders who build apps don’t work in IT. Instead, they work in departments or other kinds of business units close to the everyday business processes they're trying to digitize. So they need to be directly managed by people in their departments, not by IT.
That being said, however, they must work very closely with IT as well. IT sets enterprise standards for security, integration, quality and more.
For more details about this, download the Complete Guide to Citizen Development Governance.
Businesses need to pay careful attention to this complex relationship between citizen developers, IT, and business units. So corporate standards need to be established. According to the Alpha Software blog post by Amy Groden, “Citizen Developer Governance: How To Manage It”:
“Citizen Developer Governance turns rogue shadow IT projects into secure apps that follow corporate guidelines and policies. IT can ensure data is secure, apps are properly tested, and apps go through an approval process. A clear policy establishes quality control over citizen development. It ensures that app development across the organization is consistent and high quality.
“IT makes sure security requirements are followed, corporate branding guidelines are employed, and apps deliver high quality user experiences on a range of iOS and Android devices. Without governance over citizen development, IT cannot ensure that app performance and security adhere to company standards.”
Many people are still nervous about having people who aren't developers build company apps, but that bias is changing.
Recently, Alpha Software's Vice President of Marketing explained in VentureBeat::
"Because low-code development delivers business apps without needing large amounts of programming, the longstanding belief is that low-code doesn’t have the capacity to meet enterprise standards. This is no longer true...Thanks to low-code platforms, complete enterprise applications can be developed within days, contributing to why company executive are increasingly making low-code development their most significant automation investment."
Citizen developers can only do their jobs if they have the right platform. We have what we think is the best one. Get started on building mobile apps for free with the leading software for citizen developers.