Digitally dexterous organisations and the need for Citizen Developers. New reality or vendor fallacy? Part 4 of 6
To meet the challenge posed by digital transformation, organizations have to create an environment that enables agility, dexterity and flexibility.
Low-code / no-code technologies provide organizations with much needed tools to transform processes faster than ever thought possible 10 years ago. They can help generate organisation efficiencies and growth opportunities. In turn, organisations can gain significant competitive advantage in their market. Whilst this sounds simple, examples of scaled business benefits from low-code / no-code platforms have proven elusive for many.
This article continues to outline the practices organisations need to implement to have any chance of launching a successful Citizen Developer program.
“‘Citizen Development’ brings the power of application and functionality closer to the ground and places it near directly into the Gemba. If carefully incubated inside long term digital strategy, and protected from the immune system of the change-resistant parts of the organisation it will provide great results and drive a phenomenal culture throughout the organisation”Nitesh Rungta, Intelligent Automation | Business Transformation | Change Management Expert
11. Encourage mentoring from experienced software developers who have excellent people skills. To create more effective developers, citizen or otherwise, time must be spent tutoring, coaching and mentoring. One of the most effective ways to encourage others to develop is provide exceptional IT mentors who delight in seeing new developers grow and deliver.
“Organisations need to check to see where coding knowledge gaps exist. They then need to provide training to close those gaps through mentorship. Citizen Developers need to be able to talk to a mentor if they are to have any chance of succeeding in their endeavours. ” Chris McKernan, Business Solutions Integration Lead
IT mentors can help avoid rogue applications making their way onto the network by actively engaging with Citizen Developers. When IT are engaged they can monitor and check that Citizen Developer code meets business security requirements. They can provide the necessary guardrails needed to avoid mishap.
“The relationship between the COE and the Citizen Developers is a two-way relationship. Depending on your governance mode, you could have every single automation produced by a Citizen Developer enhanced and improved by your COE before publishing it. Your COE could look at the most popular Citizen Developer solutions and use this as input in to more strategic automations they build. The technology supports all this, and it is up to companies to implement and adopt the model that is best suited to their environment and risk appetite.”Arif Khan, AI Ninja
As a result, rather than resent IT oversight. Citizen Developers actually appreciate it, especially when it comes to challenges like secure application development.
“Organisations are starting to create frameworks within which they want their Citizen Developers to operate. The CoE will create more re-usable components and modules for common functions, share these across the Citizen Development community, and the citizen developers can drag and drop these in to their automations. This makes the building of solutions for Citizen Developers faster, more robust and more supportable.”Arif Khan, AI Ninja
12. Align the program with business strategy and build a business case. A Citizen Developer program for transformation sake won’t be effective. Any technology or change program must be tightly tied to business strategy. The fundamentals of good business don’t change no matter the program or technology.
- Develop a sound financial business case for a Citizen Developer program.
- Walk before you run. Take time to analyse the environment and workload requirements. A POC | POV can be a useful first step to understanding how a program might work, what it might cost and what it might deliver as business benefits.
- Move forwards at pace using each steps to enhance your Citizen Developer playbook whilst checking back frequently to ensure the program matches to business strategy and continues to pay for itself. If the program goes off track then actively bring it back on track.
- Don’t bet the bank from day one. Skill up your team over time so that you add more capability as your Citizen Developer program pays for itself.
13. Don’t expect miracle results in weeks. Digital transformation takes time, regardless of whether you use Citizen Developers or developers with many years experience. It is a long term, iterative, test and learn process.
To be successful, organisations should intergrade Citizen Developer lead digital transformation efforts with the rest of the companies. Don’t silo efforts and treat them as something different, interesting but not relevant or a side show to be tolerated but not encouraged. Everyone must be pointed in the same direction and be supported on their journey to digital nirvana.
“A Citizen Developer is a great way to enable an organisations workforce, but in reality it is difficult to make code robust, safe and secure. Competent and confident individuals with the right ‘programmers’ mindset and skills (e.g. can build VBA code) can be found within the confines of an organisations business units but they are not full time software developers. They must be given suitable time to grow into their role.” Pavani rKoduri, RPA and AI Architect
14. Be realistic about an organisations workforce capabilities. It’s important that digital dexterity permeates the workforce but not everyone needs to be, or can be, a Citizen Developer. It takes considerable time to train, mentor and guide developers to build secure, reliable solutions. Everyone can contribute to an organisations digital transformation without the need for them to all be able to code, but not everyone can code.
“It’s ok for citizen developers to automate their own work, just as they would with excel and macros etc. However the same problem of support would exist when that person leaves. So I wouldn’t recommend it for business critical applications. Citizens also automating processes on behalf of colleagues less technical, need to ensure they will have time to support these as part of their normal job function.” Kally Gill, Head of RPA Services
15. Focus on quality, not quantity. Pay and reward individuals that focus on software standards, data quality and delivery excellence when building automations (e.g. give cash, praise, badges, trophies etc). Excellent code is robust, secure, built for reuse and shared. That way code becomes scalable.
“Organisations should create communities of best practice where individuals, supported by IT, can collectively come together to create and benefit from shared automation, analytics and digital best practices and tools regardless of whether they implement a Low-Code / No-Code platform or maintain traditional development environments. Such practice reduces business risk whilst supporting, positioning and enabling resources for the best chance of success.” Faisal Iftikhar, Global Automation Lead
Visual low-code / no-code drag and drop platforms help share the responsibility for application development across an organisation. They help reduce the strain on over burdened IT departments that are struggling with the pace of change demanded in the digital age.
At their best, low-code / no-code platforms help drive efficiency and responsiveness to changes in market, user and consumer demands. They offer capable business users the freedom to innovate and experiment at pace within a secure and well governed IT framework.
At their worst, they are an expensive lesson in how do things different next time.
What do you think?
Additional articles on Digital Dexterity and Citizen Developers:
- Digitally Dexterous Organisations and their need for Citizen Developers – New Reality or Vendor Fallacy – Part 1, Kieran Gilmurray, Global Automation Lead
- Digitally dexterous organisations and their need for Citizen Developers. New reality or vendor fallacy? Part 2 of 6, Kieran Gilmurray, Global Automation Lead
- Digitally dexterous organisations and their need for Citizen Developers. New reality or vendor fallacy? Part 3 of 6
- Less Citizen Developer and More RPA Neighborhood Watch Joe Labbe VP of Business Development
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