What Is a Citizen Developer?

  • 14 February 2022
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What Is a Citizen Developer?
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Citizen developers build business apps that fit their organization’s needs — without writing a line of code. 


A citizen developer is any non-technical user who creates new business applications to address their organization’s needs — without writing a line of code.

Learn more about citizen developers and the other forces shaping the future of work. Read the full report here.


What is citizen development?
Citizen development is a way for business users with no coding experience to create simple business applications — using no-code tools — in order to increase their daily efficiency or streamline an existing business process. In other words, the meaning of citizen developer is a user who creates application capabilities.


Why is citizen development important?
The market for software developers is tight and technology workers are in high demand. This talent shortage adds to the burden on IT departments everywhere. When IT takes too long to implement solutions, business users may seek out their own solutions, which may be unsanctioned (shadow IT) or siloed.

When citizen developers use sanctioned no-code platforms, business and IT can work collaboratively to create apps the organization requires – quickly and efficiently — with no shadow IT


What organizations use citizen developers?
Business units — such as human resources, finance, marketing, IT, customer service — that handle service requests, approvals, and other repetitive-but-important workflows or tasks, benefit when citizen developers can build apps that solve problems, boost efficiency and increase collaboration. 

Citizen developers usually are subject matter experts (such as department managers or even individual contributors) who are willing to experiment with no-code tools or platforms in order to solve a problem or address a common pain point. With IT-sanctioned tools and a bit of training, citizen developers can benefit any business unit within the company.

How are citizen development tools and platforms governed?
When a company has a formal citizen development program, new apps are developed on IT-approved platforms, which provides IT with the necessary visibility and control to monitor the new apps’ quality and security. IT should collaborate with business users to define the overall approach and choose the right tools so citizen developers can create apps easily.


How can companies leverage citizen developers?
Businesses that implement a formal citizen development program can address the challenges posed by overwhelmed IT departments by encouraging non-technical, motivated business users to create apps that solve their immediate problems.

A critical aspect of encouraging the citizen developer strategy is selecting the right platforms or tools. IT should collaborate with business users to ascertain the organization’s needs, determine the scope of the citizen development program, and jointly select appropriate no-code tools. Additionally, businesses must have adequate preparation and continuing IT support and governance to ensure the citizen development initiative’s continued progress.


How to become a citizen developer - Expand and master digital skills 

Familiarizing yourself with low-code and no-code tools is essential to becoming a citizen developer. In addition to learning about citizen development tools, it’s also important to learn about topics such as:

1 - Business process management
2 - Business process automation
3 - Digital workflows
4 - Task automation
5 - Request management

Think of automation as a practice, not just a one-time solution 

This mindset is the core to becoming a citizen developer. In order to cultivate this and make automation a daily practice, it’s important to continuously work on identifying business processes pain points/manual work that can be automated, “practice” automation by mapping out what that would look like, and work toward becoming an advocate for automation and gain buy-in from team leaders and IT. 


Work with IT, not against 
Citizen development is about empowering non-technical employees, not eliminating IT. While citizen development may sound like a threat to IT departments, it’s actually the opposite. Citizen development is about helping IT professionals. 


Why Pipefy is a citizen developers’ best friend
Pipefy is a modern, intuitive, no-code BPM solution that provides everything a citizen developer needs to implement effective, cost-efficient business process management. It empowers non-technical employees to automate routine processes using a no-code approach. And with its robust data analytics capabilities, Pipefy can help improve the processes that drive business units — from HR and Finance to Sales, Marketing, and beyond.


Pipefy’s capabilities include:

1 - Easy-to-set automation rules based on triggers and actions
2 - Plug-and-play workflow templates
3 - Customization of each step’s actions and required information
4 - User-friendly interface
5 - Native and custom integrations
6 - Drag and drop form builder to collect intake data

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