In actuality, IT often views citizen development in a rather critical light: The fear of uncontrolled growth is still too great, and the experience with decentralized software development based on legacy systems, which caused hundreds of applications to spring up uncontrollably, has not yet faded from memory.
Thanks to technological advancements, however, this fear is unfounded. The introduction of a modern, cloud-based, low-code platform opens up completely new possibilities in terms of governance. How these possibilities can be exploited is shown in this article. If properly deployed, the platform is transparent, and the solutions can be controlled. This solves many of the problems of the past.
The decisive factor here is that governance also defines the boundaries of citizen development – preventing business users from getting the idea of setting up their own little ERP, for example. Ultimately, IT must set suitable guideposts and communicate them to citizen developers in a way they can understand in order to prevent shadow IT. Alongside efficiency and transparency, factors such as security, compliance, and sustainability must also be taken into account. This way, IT can create a suitable framework within which their colleagues can operate.
Modern low-code tools such as the Microsoft Power Platform, which can also be integrated into Microsoft Teams, are highly intuitive to use. Nevertheless, IT must be there to address, inspire, train, and motivate future citizen developers. Suitable measures to promote adoption and change management ensure that employees are capable of developing their own solutions. Activities such as building communities and organizing training events, hackathons, or accelerators create long-lasting momentum, preventing measures from fizzling out again after a few months. Experienced partners can help design and implement the right measures.
Empowering citizen developers gives IT enormous leverage to scale using a company’s own employees as a resource and to drive digitalization throughout the organization. However, this leverage must also be exploited. It is not enough to focus on setting technological guidelines alone.
Ultimately, citizen development also means having faith in ambitious users and opening up new opportunities for them. For IT, this frequently entails a new way of thinking. This not only concerns the way in which software is made available within the company, but an IT department’s understanding of its own role: IT must evolve from a mere service provider for business into a designer and enabler.
As an enabler, it provides suitable technologies allowing other departments to drive the digital transformation. It has to enable the specialist areas to use these technologies in accordance with governance principles. Then it no longer needs to do everything itself and can instead create the basis for innovations together with the other departments.
It must also act as a partner for the business when more complex solutions are required and engage in “co-creation” with a particular department: As part of fusion development, IT then collaborates with the departments on professional solutions. Experienced software developers implement components that citizen developers can subsequently seamlessly integrate into their set of tools.