As more and more companies move towards a digital-first mindset, the need for citizen developers has never been greater. But what exactly is a citizen developer? And how can you train your employees to be one?
What are Citizen Developers?
A Citizen Developer is an employees who is able to use a low-code or no-code platform like the rpa tool from UiPath or Microsoft Power Automate to build applications and automation solutions that solve business problems.
This means that they don’t need to have a professional background in coding or software development in order to be able to create working business solutions.
What are the Benefits of Citizen Development?
There are many benefits to upskilling your employees and turning them into citizen developers. Therefore you and your bsuiness should consider upskilling your employees.
Doing so can provide a number of benefits, including:
- Increased productivity: A Citizen Developer can create custom business applications and automate without needing to involve IT. This can lead to increased productivity for the organization as a whole but also reduces the never-ending backlog of IT, which can concentrate on more serious architectural issues then.
- Lower costs: Professional developers can be expensive, especially if you need them to work on-site. Citizen Developers can do the same work for a fraction of the cost.
- Greater flexibility: Citizen Developers can be more flexible in how they work, and organizations can benefit from their skills on an as-needed basis.
- Eases the pain of developer shortage: Since anyone with an interest can learn the necessary skills in a specific online course, it can help you access a larger pool of potential contributors and users. This contributes to the developer scarcity that many businesses face.
- More innovations: Since users can communicate directly with the developer, it can foster collaboration and innovation.
Of course, the benefits are not easily plucked from you; they must be learned by upskilling and effectively integrating it into your enterprise-wide automation strategy.
This offers some challenges that you must consider and overcome before you and your bussiness can reap the sweet rewards of success.
Why do I need Training?
Aspiring Citizen Developers need to learn skills that must be offered by you and your company via an upskilling program.
- tool-specific skills
- methodological expertise
- logical expertise
- disciplinary skills
That's why Training should be top of mind for you and your company.
Which Steps do I need to take?
If you’re interested in citizen development training there are a few things you need to do.
1. Identify your Citizen Developer
First, you need to identify which employees would be a good fit for the role. Look for employees who are creative, resourceful and have the willingness to learn new things (some sensitivity towards data security also helps). People need the will to contribute and change. This role is not suited for everyone.
2. Train your Citizen Developer
Once you’ve identified potential candidates, the next and most important step is to provide them with the learning they need. Only when the necessary talents are combined with commitment can great performance be achieved.
There are a number of online courses and resources that can help a user learn the basics of alow-code or no-code platform as well as the aforementioned needed methodological, logical and disciplinary expertise.
Lack of skills can lead to security risks and data breaches.
3. Trust your Citizen Developer
Once your employees have completed their course, give them the opportunity to put their new skills to use by working on real-world projects. But before that, you need to set the framework to ensure data security, block shadow IT and other things.
Of course, this list is just a simplified version of all the many things you need to think about.
Probably questions such as
"How do I successfully implement Citizen Development into my company-wide automation strategy?",
"What roles and responsibilities do I need to create?"
or "What internal structures do I need to build up?"
remain open for you.
To find your answers, we kindly point you to our other article Citizen Development: How to implement it into your Automation Strategy.
Where can I upskill my employees?
As the demand for Citizen Developers grows from day to day, it's important to consider where you should upskill your employees. There are a few different options available, each with its own advantages and disadvantages.
Traditional Universities or Colleges
One option is to send employees to traditional universities or colleges. This option has the advantage of giving employees a well-rounded education that covers not just programming but also other important topics like communications and project management.
However, this option can be expensive and takes a long time; it may not be practical for all businesses.
Online Academies: Vendor Specific
Another option is to enroll employees in vendor-specific online academies like the UiPathAcademy. This can be shorter and less expensive than traditional universities, but they often offer a more specialized training that focuses solely on the usage of their own tool.
Therefore these vendor-specific online academies may not cover important non-programming topics like communications, project management, strategy, change management and more.
Online Academies: Vendor Independent
The most complete training for Citizen Development or Process Automation in general is offered by vendor-independent academies, such as the Automation Academy, VisualMakers or other independend providers for automation training.
Here, companies have the opportunity not only to train Citizen Developers in specific tools, but to impart the entire range of all necessary skills, whether on a methodical or strategic level.
Another advantage is that you do not become dependent on individual providers, but build a much more flexible basis for the coming multi-vendor era.
Ultimately, the decision of where to upskill your employees depends on your business's needs and budget. Consider all of your options carefully before making a decision.
With the rise of low-code and no-code platforms, more and more people get access to app development without needing to code. Citizen Developers will be able to create even more complex applications in the future. There are a few things that need to happen in order for this to happen though.
First, these platforms need to continue to get better and more user-friendly. They also need to be able to integrate with each other so that Citizen Developers can easily create cross-platform applications.
Finally, Citizen Developers need to be given the proper training so that they can learn how to use these platforms effectively. Professional workshops or online courses are two options for this, although it is ideally integrated into an internal upskilling program.
Once Citizen Developers have the proper training, they will be able to create amazing applications that will help improve your overall performance.