Need to Know: Citizen Development
The demand for DIY software solutions is surging. Amid a shortage of skilled programmers and an acceleration of automation, project teams are increasingly turning to citizen development. More than 75 percent of organizations have adopted no-code/low-code platforms, according to a 2021 global survey by Mendix. And the payoff is big: It reduces costs by 53 percent and speeds up development time by 56 percent.
These platforms allow citizen developers—team members with little to no coding expertise—to build apps by using visual interfaces and drag-and-drop features rather than extensive lines of code. They can help teams automate processes or gather analytics while bridging the gap between custom solutions that might require creating a development team or hiring a vendor.
"Low-code development is the future," says Atishay Jain, senior business analyst, Wipro, Gurugram, India, "It’s easy to learn, and you can start development after a couple of weeks of training, not months. Organizations are able to save time, money and experience training their manpower."
Jain has worked on no-code/low-code projects to automate invoice processing and to track data. Jain explains three things you need to know about citizen development:
Teams should tailor the use and understand the limits.
No-code/low-code development works best as a targeted application. It’s particularly suited for automating repetitive tasks. I’m leading a project that uses low-code development to automate the tracking of financial records for an asset management firm. In that case, the real advantage is that it replaces the need for manual data entry in spreadsheets. But you should avoid using low code for processes that require a human connection, such as onboarding a new employee.
It's a chance to streamline interactions.
Citizen development reduces complexity and limits communication gaps on projects, whether you’re using agile or traditional approaches. When coding requirements are light or even absent, project leaders can interact with clients directly, understand their needs and craft a solution, instead of passing on the requirements to a developer for interpretation.
There’s a community eager to help.
Whether you’re just exploring citizen development or looking to take it up a notch, there are plenty of helpful resources, and it’s relatively easy to network with other citizen developers to get support and share examples. One place you can start is PMI Citizen Developer.