Citizen developers are business users who can create their own applications with little to no coding knowledge. They use tools like low code and no code platforms that enable them to build apps without prior coding experience. Citizen development is much more than just building an application. It involves following best practices and frameworks to implement citizen development projects while mitigating the risk of shadow IT.
But why do businesses need citizen developers? And what are the pros, cons and challenges of citizen development? In this blog post, we will answer these questions and recommend a software stack for citizen developers, featuring ILLA Cloud, a robust open source low code platform for developers to build internal tools.
Why do businesses need citizen developers?
There are several reasons why businesses are turning to citizen developers. Some of the main reasons include:
- Quick turnarounds: The most obvious reason to encourage citizen developers is to minimize delays when it comes time to build new solutions. Citizen developers can respond faster to changing business needs and customer demands than traditional IT teams that have long backlogs and limited resources.
- Commercial awareness: Another reason to leverage citizen developers is to bridge the gap between technical expertise and commercial awareness. Citizen developers understand the business context and goals better than external vendors or IT teams that may not have direct contact with end-users or customers.
- Fostering innovation: Citizen development also fosters innovation by allowing business users to experiment with new ideas and solutions without depending on IT approval or support. Citizen developers can test different hypotheses, iterate quickly and learn from failures without risking major investments or disruptions.
- Governing shadow IT: Shadow IT refers to the use of unauthorized or unapproved software or hardware by employees within an organization. Shadow IT poses security, compliance and operational risks for businesses as it bypasses IT controls and policies. By empowering citizen developers with approved tools and platforms, businesses can reduce the need for shadow IT and increase visibility and accountability of app development activities.
- Eliminating silos: Finally, citizen development can help eliminate silos within an organization by enabling cross-functional collaboration and communication among different teams and departments. Citizen developers can share their apps with other users, solicit feedback, incorporate suggestions and improve their solutions based on user needs.
Citizen development: pros, cons & challenges
Citizen development has many benefits for businesses, but it also comes with some drawbacks and challenges. Here are some of the pros, cons and challenges of citizen development:
Pros of Citizen Development
- Increased productivity: Citizen developers can build apps faster and cheaper than traditional IT teams, reducing development time and costs. They can also automate repetitive tasks and workflows, freeing up time and resources for more strategic initiatives.
- Improved user satisfaction: Citizen developers can create apps that are tailored to their specific needs and preferences, improving user satisfaction and engagement. They can also update and modify their apps as needed, ensuring they meet changing requirements and expectations.
- Enhanced agility: Citizen developers can adapt to changing market conditions and customer demands more quickly and easily than traditional IT teams, enhancing business agility and competitiveness. They can also leverage existing data and systems, integrating them into their apps without disrupting existing processes and operations.
Cons of Citizen Development
- Lack of standardization: Citizen developers may use different tools and platforms to create their apps, resulting in a lack of standardization and consistency across the organization. This can lead to compatibility issues, duplication of efforts and maintenance challenges.
- Poor quality: Citizen developers may not have the necessary skills and knowledge to create high-quality apps that meet security, performance and reliability standards. They may also introduce errors and bugs that compromise the functionality and usability of their apps.
- Limited scalability: Citizen developers may create apps that work well for their specific use cases, but may not scale well for larger or more complex scenarios. They may also face challenges in deploying and managing their apps across different environments and devices.
Challenges of Citizen Development
- Governance: One of the biggest challenges of citizen development is ensuring proper governance and oversight of app development activities. Businesses need to establish clear policies and guidelines for citizen developers, such as what tools and platforms they can use, what data and systems they can access, and what approval and testing processes they need to follow. They also need to monitor and audit their apps, ensuring they comply with security, privacy and regulatory standards.
- Education: Another challenge of citizen development is providing adequate education and training for citizen developers, ensuring they have the skills and knowledge to create effective and efficient apps. Businesses need to offer learning resources and support for citizen developers, such as tutorials, documentation, forums and mentors.
Software Stack for Citizen Developers
To empower citizen developers, businesses need to provide them with a software stack that enables them to create, deploy and manage their apps easily and securely. A software stack is a set of software components that work together to provide a specific functionality or service. A software stack for citizen developers typically consists of:
- A core platform: This is the app-builder that allows citizen developers to create apps using low code or no code tools. A core platform should offer a graphical user interface (GUI), drag-and-drop components, pre-built templates and integrations that simplify the app development process. A core platform should also provide security, scalability and governance features that ensure compliance with IT standards and policies.
- Related workflows: These are the processes and tasks that citizen developers need to perform before, during and after creating their apps. Related workflows may include data collection, analysis, visualization, reporting, automation, collaboration and feedback. Related workflows may require additional tools and platforms that complement the core platform and enhance its functionality.
- Stakeholder buy-in: This is the approval and support that citizen developers need to obtain from their managers, IT teams and end-users to successfully implement their apps. Stakeholder buy-in may involve demonstrating the value and benefits of their apps, addressing the concerns and risks of their apps, and ensuring the alignment and coordination of their apps with the business goals and strategies.
One of the best software stacks for citizen developers is ILLA Cloud, a robust open-source low code platform for developers to build internal tools. ILLA Cloud offers many advantages for citizen developers, such as:
- Easy to use: ILLA Cloud has a user-friendly interface that allows citizen developers to build apps using drag-and-drop components, pre-built templates and integrations. ILLA Cloud also has a library of components and actions that enable citizen developers to add features and functionality to their apps without writing code.
- Flexible and customizable: ILLA Cloud allows citizen developers to customize their apps according to their specific needs and preferences. ILLA Cloud supports various data sources, such as databases, API/GraphQL endpoints, SaaS tools and cloud storage services. ILLA Cloud also allows citizen developers to modify the look and feel of their apps, as well as the logic and behavior of their apps.
- Secure and scalable: ILLA Cloud ensures the security and scalability of the apps created by citizen developers. ILLA Cloud provides encryption, authentication, and authorization features that protect the data and access of the apps. ILLA Cloud also provides cloud hosting and deployment features that ensure the performance and availability of the apps.
- Open source and affordable: ILLA Cloud is an open-source platform that is driven by the community and the feedback of the users. ILLA Cloud is free to use and offers various pricing plans for different needs and budgets. ILLA Cloud also provides documentation, tutorials, forums, and mentors to help citizen developers learn and grow.
Citizen development is a powerful trend that is transforming the way businesses create and use applications. Citizen developers are business users who can create their own applications with little to no coding knowledge, using tools like low-code and no-code platforms.
Citizen development has many benefits for businesses, such as increasing productivity, improving user satisfaction, enhancing agility, governing shadow IT and eliminating silos. However, citizen development also has some drawbacks and challenges, such as lack of standardization, poor quality, limited scalability, governance, and education.
To empower citizen developers, businesses need to provide them with a software stack that enables them to create, deploy, and manage their apps easily and securely. One of the best software stacks for citizen developers is ILLA Cloud, a robust open-source low-code platform for developers to build internal tools. ILLA Cloud offers many advantages for citizen developers, such as easy to use, flexible and customizable, secure and scalable, open source, and affordable. If you are interested in empowering citizen developers with ILLA Cloud, you can visit their website and sign up for a free trial. You can also join their community and learn from other citizen developers and experts.