Key Concepts & Benefits of Citizen Development

This article will provide an overview of the key concepts and benefits of citizen development, as discussed in the webinar (1 of 3): PMI Citizen Developer Overview.

What is Citizen Development?

Let’s start with the basics: what is citizen development? It is the process of building software applications by non-professional developers, such as business analysts or power users. This is done using low-code or no-code tools, which require minimal coding knowledge or experience.

One important aspect of citizen development is its hyper-agile approach, which is a more flexible and iterative method than traditional waterfall or agile processes. This allows citizen developers to quickly create and test solutions that meet their specific business needs.

When it comes to the tools used in citizen development, the most common acronym is LCNC, which stands for low-code, no-code. Many people may already have experience with LCNC tools, as they are often used to build dashboards, simple databases, and workflows.

The benefits of citizen development are numerous. First and foremost, it allows for innovation and efficiency by leveraging the knowledge and expertise of front-line workers. These individuals understand their department or group’s processes and are best positioned to build solutions that meet their needs. This reduces wait times and increases productivity by allowing solutions to be built and implemented quickly.

Citizen development is cost-effective because it requires less IT involvement. Front-line workers can build solutions themselves, and IT can provide support and oversight as needed. This approach also allows for the expansion of company intellectual properties and the creation of unique products and services.

Finally, the citizen development approach can help prevent the creation of shadow IT. This is a common concern among CIOs and executives who worry about applications being built and used without proper oversight. However, the webinar presenter compares this to the early days of Agile, when people feared a lack of control and planning. Over time, Agile methodologies became more structured and planned, and the same can be true for citizen development. By using a structured approach and involving IT as needed, shadow IT can be prevented.

Why Citizen Development?

Citizen development is an emerging trend in the technology industry that has caught the attention of many professionals. You may be wondering who exactly qualifies as a citizen developer. According to the formal definition presented during our recent webinar, a citizen developer is anyone who uses or plans to use no-code solutions for their daily activities.

If you’re already leveraging cloud-based Office 365 applications, you’re already moving in the direction of low-code solutions. Microsoft’s Power Platform, which includes Power Apps, Power Automate, Power BI, Power Virtual Agent, and Power Pages, is a particularly popular option for those interested in no-code solutions. In fact, the speaker in the webinar went as far as to suggest that learning about Power Platform tools is the equivalent of having a college degree in today’s world, as opposed to just knowing the basics of Microsoft Word, Excel, PowerPoint, and Outlook.

The rise of citizen development is reflected in Gartner’s Magic Quadrant for low-code applications, which includes a number of organizations and tools falling under the LCNC umbrella. Microsoft, a leader in this space, is particularly well known for its no-code solutions.

Of course, Microsoft is not the only player in the LCNC space. There are many other applications out there that also allow users to create workflows and applications without needing to know how to code. Anyone and everyone can be a citizen developer, just by picking up these tools and making use of them in their day-to-day activities.

Benefits of Citizen Development

Firstly, citizen development can accelerate new product development by allowing front-line workers to quickly create and test solutions that meet their specific business needs. This leads to increased efficiency and productivity by reducing wait times and enabling solutions to be built and implemented rapidly.

a diagram that shows the different benefits of citizen development, including innovation and efficiency, cost-effectiveness, prevention of shadow IT, and benefits from an individual perspective.
Benefits of citizen development, including innovation and efficiency, cost-effectiveness, prevention of shadow IT, and benefits from an individual perspective.

Citizen development is also cost-effective because it requires less IT involvement. This frees up IT capacity to work on harder, more complex tasks. Additionally, citizen development can drive innovation, reduce costs, and help drive digital transformation within the organization.

Following a structured approach and involving IT as needed helps to prevent shadow IT and ensures that security and compliance measures are being followed. This increases transparency, and reusability, and reduces the risk of security breaches.

From an individual perspective, becoming a citizen developer by learning about low-code and no-code tools can be a valuable asset on a resume. It can set individuals apart from those who only know the basics of Microsoft Office and demonstrate their ability to work with modern technology.

Empowering front-line workers with the tools and technology to work autonomously can also improve the culture of the company. Citizen development provides recognition and career opportunities for non-professional developers and democratizes development, giving them a skill set, capability, and framework to build solutions and apps using modern technology.

This article contains highlights from Rich Weller’s webinar – Digital PMO (1 of 3) – PMI Citizen Developer Program Overview – being provided by MPUG for the convenience of our members. You may wish to use this transcript for the purposes of self-paced learning, searching for specific information, and/or performing a quick review of webinar content. There may be exclusions, such as those steps included in product demonstrations, or there may be additions to expand on concepts. You may watch the on-demand recording of this webinar at your convenience.

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Written by Rich Weller

Rich Weller is a Project, Program and Portfolio Management Solution Specialist.  He has nearly 30 years’ experience in planning and delivering successful project, program and portfolio management initiatives.

He has been a college instructor nearly 20 years, teaching multiple courses in Business as well as Project Management.  He is also a frequent speaker at PMI, MPUG, Scaled Agile as well as other industry events.

He has led multiple transformation programs and is currently spearheading the transformation program for MIGSO | PCUBED North America.  He has also acquired all three of the credentials for PMI Citizen Developer Foundation, PMI Citizen Developer Practitioner, PMI Citizen Developer Business Architect

Rich has a Masters Degree in Business Administration (MBA) and holds many certifications ranging from Six Sigma, Project Management Professional (PMP), Scrum Master (SSM), Release Train Engineer (RTE), SAFe Program Consultant (SPC) and is a PMI Authorized Training Instructor.

Rich is also well versed in many Project Management software applications including Microsoft Project (MCTS), Project Online / Project Server (MCITP), SharePoint (MCTS), Microsoft Planner, Microsoft Teams, Project For The Web, CA Agile (Rally), Jira Software, Jira Portfolio and many of the Power Platform products.

His current passion is AI (Artificial Intelligence) in Project Management.

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