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Citizen Developers: Blessing or Curse?

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Citizen Developers: Blessing or Curse? Citizen Developers: Blessing or Curse?

It's hard to deny the impact that citizen developers are having on the world. From innovative new products and services to increased productivity and efficiency, the rise of this new breed of developers is changing the way we do business.

But with great power comes great responsibility, and with so much potential for good, there's also the potential for harm. So, what are citizen developers - a blessing or a curse?

What are Citizen Developers?

A citizen developer is a person who creates software applications without formal training in programming or software engineering. Citizen developers typically have a domain-specific expertise, such as in healthcare or finance, and use low-code platforms or other rapid application development tools to create applications that solve problems specific to their domain.

While citizen developers are not professional programmers, they are often able to create high-quality applications due to their deep knowledge of the domain they are working in. Additionally, citizen developers typically have less difficulty understanding and using software development tools than people with no prior experience in programming.

The term "citizen developer" was coined by Forrester Research analyst Paul Hamerman in 2006.

citizen developers definition

The Benefits of having Citizen Developers

Citizen developers are business users who develop applications to solve business problems without the help of professional developers. They can be a valuable asset to any organization, providing a number of benefits.

Great Business Knowledge

First, citizen developers are more in tune with the needs of the business than professional developers. They understand the workflows and processes of the organization and how best to automate them. This intimate knowledge of the business makes them ideal candidates for developing applications that will actually be used by employees.

High Flexibility and Agility

Second, citizen developers are usually more responsive to changes and requests than professional developers. Because they are not bogged down by bureaucracy or red tape, they can quickly turn around applications that meet the changing needs of the business.

Fresh Perspective

Finally, citizen developers often bring a fresh perspective to application development. They aren't afraid to try new things and experiment with different approaches. This creativity can lead to the development of innovative solutions that would never be considered by professional developers.

Citizen developers are a valuable asset to any organization. By harnessing the power of citizen developers, organizations can improve their agility, responsiveness, and creativity.

The Challenges of having Citizen Developers

There's no doubt that citizen developers are becoming more and more popular, as they offer a cost-effective and efficient way to build custom applications. However, there are still some challenges that need to be addressed in order for citizen developers to truly thrive.

Lack of Expertise

Companies frequently underestimate the set of abilities needed by a worker to succeed as a citizen developer.

One of the biggest challenges is the lack of technical skills. While many citizen developers are able to learn the basics of application development, they often lack the deeper technical skills needed to build truly complex applications. This can limit the kinds of applications that citizen developers are able to build, and hamper their ability to keep up with the latest trends and technologies.

But in addition to this clear flaw at the technical level, there are also deficiencies at the level of methodological, logical, and disciplinary knowledge.

However, the aforementioned gaps can be closed relatively easily with appropriate Citizen Development Training.

citizen developers cons lack of expertise

Lack of Governance & Control

Another challenge facing citizen developers is the lack of governance and control. Because (almost) anyone can be a citizen developer, it can be hard for organizations to keep track of who is building what, and ensuring that all applications meet compliance standards.

This can lead to security risks and data breaches, as well as a general feeling of chaos within an organization.

Therefore, it is crucial to carefully consider how Citizen Development may be included in the company's overall automation strategy and which roles & responsibilities are needed.

Despite these challenges, there's no doubt that citizen developers are here to stay. By addressing these challenges head-on, we can ensure that citizen developers continue to thrive and provide value to organizations around the world.

Who makes the best Citizen Developers?

There's no doubt that citizen developers can be extremely beneficial to organizations. They can help fill gaps in the IT department, develop custom applications quickly and efficiently, and empower employees to solve problems on their own.

However, not all citizen developers are created equal. When it comes to choosing who should fill this role within your organization, there are a few key qualities you should look for.

  • First and foremost, the best citizen developers are those with a strong desire to learn. They're constantly exploring new technologies and trying to find ways to apply them to business problems.
  • They're also excellent communicators, able to explain complex concepts to non-technical stakeholders.
  • Finally, they have a track record of successful projects - they know how to get things done, even under tight deadlines.

If you can find someone within your organization who meets these criteria, you've got a potential citizen developer who can make a real difference for your business.

How to grow Citizen Developers?

If you're interested in encouraging Citizen Developers in your organization, there are a few things you can do.

First, provide citizen development training and support so that employees have the resources they need to be successful.

Second, make sure your development tools are user-friendly and accessible; if they're too complicated, employees will be discouraged from using them.

Finally, create a culture of innovation where creativity is encouraged and recognized; this will help to foster a community of Citizen Developers within your organization.

If you want to know more about this, please read our other article about Citizen Development Strategy and Citizen Development Training.

Which is it? Curse or blessing?

The answer depends on your perspective. If you're a company owner looking to cut costs and increase efficiency, then citizen developers are definitely a blessing. On the other hand, if you're a consumer who values privacy and security, then they could be a curse, without the right implementation.

Ultimately, it's up to each company and how carefully it approaches Citizen Development.

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