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Citizen development through no-code and low-code platforms is taking up a clear spot next to the traditional application development (using lines of code). There’s value in each development method.

Citizen development, and its citizen developers that build their own solutions with little to no development experience, has been advancing for years. But the concept isn’t new. From a smart Excel or Access database, to a Minecraft mod that you created years ago, or even the ‘smart’ design of a house: the latest generations have become more and more digital savvy and know the power and the possibilities of technology.

Companies are also picking up this trend, and have often already made some big steps in digitalization. 

So it makes sense that citizen developers are becoming more and more important in the corporate world:

  • Many digital savvy people are working in an environment that encourages innovation. Digitalization and automation are part of the daily routine.
     
  • When these people encounter a problem in their workflow, they often already have a solution in their heads. They know their processes by heart, and they know all the technical possibilities. An ideal combination.
     
  • Because of their interest in and connection with technology, they tend to try things out for themselves. Especially if the inhouse IT department is too busy to provide solutions. Because they don’t have any experience in coding, they develop their applications using no-code and low-code platforms.
A woman working from home on her laptop.

characteristics of a good citizen developer.

Reading all this, you’d think almost everyone can become a citizen developer. But that’s not the case. Good citizen developers usually have the following characteristics.

studious.

Citizen developers are self-taught. Through self study, they develop new skills, create a feeling for writing code and the principles behind it, and stay up to speed with the fast evolving low-code technology.

dealing with feedback.

Good citizen developers work together with the business and the IT department. They know their work and department through and through, and have a good understanding of how the solution should work. But they still listen to the opinions of their colleagues in the business, and think of feedback from the IT department as a learning opportunity.

problem solvers.

Citizen developers are critical thinkers. They learn by observing and researching. They find the right solution through trial and error. Real problem solvers that take on any challenge.

You know who we’re talking about, right? Those colleagues that have a tool for everything and want to get you excited about technology. The colleagues that always try to figure out the most efficient working method. The colleagues that have truly creative ideas during brainstorms. 

They’re the perfect candidates to become citizen developers.

They are, so to speak, an extra pair of eyes to spot the digitalization opportunities that would otherwise go unnoticed. Citizen developers make sure that digital transformation seeps through to every layer of your organization. And that right there is the key to success.

citizen developers in practice.

The perfect recipe for a citizen developer is digitalized companies plus digital minded people. Since citizen developers can build high impact solutions without writing code, it would seem that there’s a citizen developer in almost everyone. But could it really be as simple as democratizing the access to technology and no-code/low-code platforms and giving the citizen developers carte blanche?

In practice, there’s more to it than that. You need a good governance model. If you don’t have one, you’ll open up your company to application and security issues.
From a defined collaboration with IT, to the availability of the right tools and trainings, together with a company culture based on trust: you have quite a lot to think of before you can successfully employ citizen developers in your company.

about the author
Kris Van der Stappen

kris van der stappen

sales director it

It is my passion to work with organizations to see how technology can help them in their digital transformation, aiming to maximize their business potential.