What is Citizen Development?
Gartner defines a citizen developer as “a user who creates new business applications for consumption by others using development and runtime environments sanctioned by corporate IT”.
Citizen development is not a new phenomenon, and in the past it was common for rogue citizen developers to bypass IT to develop custom solutions using software (like Microsoft Access or Excel) or subscribe to unsanctioned services. Notoriously known as shadow IT, these ad-hoc apps are difficult to manage and scale, often causing problems in compliance, security, quality and hidden costs among others.
So how do businesses optimize citizen development to maximize benefit? Rather than trying to restrict citizen development, businesses can adopt the following strategies to govern and maximize the value of citizen developers. With a proper governance strategy, citizen development is a win-win situation where business users can easily build apps to solve their problems while IT has visibility and oversight.
Citizen Developer Governance Strategy
Start by formulating a Citizen Developer Governance strategy for the business as a whole. Each organization is unique, but a good guide to start is by identifying and addressing the 6Ws principle of Why, Who, What, When, Where and How.
1. Why: Identify the Objectives of the Citizen Development Initiative
Why is the business looking into citizen development? It is best to define the objectives so that the goals are clear. For example, you could define some objectives such as:
- Reduce bottleneck on IT resources and speed up app delivery by engaging business experts directly
- Eliminate paperwork and automate error-prone manual processes
- Centralize data to avoid data silos and redundancies
Once the objectives are established, the next questions will be aligned to address them.
2. Who: Identify and Embrace Citizen Developers
Once you have the objectives, identify the users who are suitable for citizen development. The key goal with citizen development is that anyone can start developing business solutions regardless of technical background. Instead of just relying solely on professional developers, business users and non-developer IT staff are empowered to solve pressing business problems. Typically, citizen developers are:
- Tech-savvy business users
- Power users of existing business applications
- Non-coder IT personnel
3. What: Identify Business Problems, Use Cases and Business Units
What business problems are to be solved, and what types of apps should the citizen developers build? Here, depending on the maturity of the organization and the capability of the citizen developers, you should identify the business problems and use cases that are to be addressed.
- Start with non-critical departmental or business unit apps
- Start with simple, less complex data or workflow apps that require little integration
- Progressively expand into more important problems as expertise and experience grows.
A simple filter to identify the best targets is to look for the ones that have simple to medium complexity, but have a higher business impact i.e. apps that can directly have a positive impact on revenues or cost reduction within your enterprise.
4. When: Manage Citizen Developer Contribution and Partner with Professional Developers
It is impractical to expect citizen developers to be able to handle more complex business app requirements. Thus, it is important to determine when citizen developers are suitable, and allow them to partner with IT and professional developers when required.
- Form cross-functional, multidisciplinary fusion teams consisting of members from both business and IT.
- There will be limits to what pure no-code applications can achieve, so establish key roles and procedures for them to work with IT and professional developers for more critical apps, and complex ones requiring integration.
- Ensure that the application platform can empower citizen developers with no-code, yet have the flexibility to allow professional developers to extend and integrate apps with code where required.
- Establish a Citizen Developer Center of Excellence (COE) where all activity can be monitored and managed. The COE can maintain policies and guidelines, establish best practices, provide resources, organize onboarding and training, report to stakeholders, etc.
5. Where: Determine Where to Deploy, Manage and Monitor Apps
Where will apps be deployed, where will citizen developers be operating, and how will IT help to manage and monitor them?
- Select tools and platforms that allow apps to be easily deployed and managed, and can be monitored from a centralized location.
- The tool or platform should allow proactive monitoring of critical enterprise requirements especially in security, performance and quality.
- Delegate apps to different citizen developer teams, and distribute apps to different environments, for example group apps by use case or business units.
6. How: Standardize on Tools/Platforms and Emphasize Training
Business and IT should jointly decide on a common, standard set of no-code/low-code tools or platforms to be used. There is no silver bullet, and there is no single tool or platform that can meet all needs, so every organization should assess their needs and find the best fitting solutions. Some criteria that should be evaluated:
- The tools or platforms should be simple enough to be used by citizen developers, while providing the flexibility to be extended by IT and professional developers when the need arises.
- The tools or platforms do not exist in isolation, so it would be wise to choose those that fit in the organization’s existing IT infrastructure and environment.
- Establish best practices for application development e.g. consolidating data stores to ensure data consistency, standardizing naming conventions, integration and testing standards, etc.
- Training will be fundamental, so determine a path to onboard and track learning for citizen developers (and professional developers as well).
Joget DX — A Complete Platform for Citizen Development
Joget DX is an open source no-code / low-code application platform that combines the best of process automation, workflow management and rapid application development. Joget DX is designed to empower citizen developers using a visual no-code approach, while allowing professional developers to extend and integrate the platform with code when required.
Joget Provides Ready-Made Governance Capabilities for Citizen Development
Recognizing the importance of citizen development for accelerating digital transformation, Joget has partnered with the Project Management Institute (PMI™) and achieved Gold Tier status in the PMI Citizen Developer™ Partner Program. To unlock the full potential of citizen development, the next generation Joget DX 8 platform is designed with a focus on User Experience (UX) and Governance.
Joget DX 8 provides automated governance health checks and alerts to aid compliance in critical enterprise areas such as security, performance and application quality.
Joget DX 8 will integrate with the upcoming Governance Center, a centralized portal to manage and monitor Joget installations, apps and developers within an organization.
Acting as a Citizen Developer Center of Excellence (COE), the Governance Center provides clear visibility into the status of larger-scale citizen development initiatives, while enabling control and approval for app deployments between environments.
It is important to note that every organization is different and one size does not fit all. In this regard, the Governance Center itself is a Joget app so it can be tailored to an organization’s individual requirements.
Joget combines the best of business process automation, workflow management and rapid application development in a unique combination of simplicity, flexibility and openness that caters to all developer personas.
Complete Citizen Development platform and supports Professional Developers:
Recognizing that there is a limit to what no-code can accomplish, as well as the capabilities of citizen developers, Joget provides extensibility via a plugin architecture for IT and professional developers to extend the platform with code as required.
While Joget is simple enough for users to get started on their own, organizations can initiate a formal training program to ensure that citizen developers build up sufficient skills and competencies using the Joget Academy, which provides guided learning courses and certifications.
At the same time, it is very important to recognize that there is absolutely no way for any solution to immediately cater to every requirement out there. That is why the platform is designed to be extensible with a dynamic plugin architecture and APIs that allow professional developers to extend the platform as and when required.
To kickstart an organization’s citizen development initiatives, the Joget Marketplace provides ready made apps, plugins and templates that can be seamlessly installed. These can be used as-is, or can be customized to suit specific needs.
3. Joget is Open and Fits in Any Environment
One of the key principles of the Joget platform is its openness and commitment to open standards. Not only is the core platform open source and publicly available on GitHub, Joget also offers fully flexible and scalable deployment options, whether on-premise or multi-cloud deployment (On-Demand Cloud, Certified OpenShift Operator, Red Hat Marketplace, Docker, Kubernetes, Cloud Foundry, Google Workspace Marketplace, AWS Marketplace, Azure Marketplace, GCP Marketplace).
It also runs on a multitude of operating systems, databases and application servers so it fits in with any infrastructure e.g. Windows, Linux, Oracle, Microsoft SQL Server, MySQL, IBM Websphere, Oracle Weblogic, Red Hat JBoss EAP, Apache Tomcat, etc.
There are also several editions of the platform to cater to different features and affordability needs, whether for Fortune 500 enterprises, government agencies, mid-market companies, departments, or small businesses. So businesses can begin with a small deployment to start, and scale up whenever required.
For larger scale deployments organizations can utilize the multi-tenant Joget Cloud Edition, or leverage modern cloud native computing by deploying Joget on Kubernetes or Red Hat OpenShift. With the latter, a Red Hat certified operator provides a trusted, secure and automated method to easily deploy and scale apps on a leading enterprise-grade Kubernetes platform.
Get Started with Joget DX
Joget DX 8 is now available as a limited preview to selected customers and partners, request for access today.
Other resources to help you get started: