Why you should read this

No- and low-code platforms are disrupting, and democratizing, software development. By decreasing- or removing entirely- the programming knowledge needed to build applications, these platforms are changing the landscape of development. Speedier time to delivery on a no- or low-code platform changes the expectation that development is an inherently time and labor intensive ordeal, and many platforms are expanding the definition of who can contribute to application delivery. Enter the citizen developer.

Citizen developers are not part of the IT department, and in some cases may not have formal programming experience. But they are building applications with growing frequency, and these apps have growing impact on organizations -- both positive and negative. Employees who create spreadsheets or other digital solutions that organize departmental functions are trying to find ways to improve workflows and solve business problems. The downside is that, because these citizen developers are operating apart from the activities, and jurisdiction, of a central IT department, this development activity often creates a new set of problems all its own.

Governance is what converts disorganized, rogue IT initiatives into citizen development. A no- or low-code platform is the tool that enables said governance, and harnesses the potential of citizen developers to positively support organizations.

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Key Takeaways

  • Organizations can counter the risks of citizen development like lack of control, unsupported software, and vulnerability to security threats with an implementation strategy, governance policy and sanctioned platform.

  • A governance strategy should address the who, what, where, when, and how of an organization’s citizen development program.

  • Establishing a centralized citizen development command center within the IT department provides resources, structure, and accountability through monitoring.

  • Citizen developers will need tools, resources, and support in order to be successful, including software or development platforms, coordination with IT departments and tech support.
  • Training is fundamental in terms of both gatekeeping citizen development platforms and teaching fundamentals of data security, as well as continuous development and skills building.

  • Security is paramount and all citizen development activity needs to be strictly monitored to ensure compliance.