How to End the Business Application Tug of War Between Business and IT

Quick Base News
Nov 22, 2016
8 Min Read
How to End the Business Application Tug of War Between Business and IT

How to End the Business Application Tug of War Between Business and IT

Whose App is It Anyway?

Taking ownership is usually a commendable act of social responsibility. However, problems arise when multiple groups claim exclusive ownership over the same process. An example of this is the tug of war between Business and IT over business applications. Business pulls on one side of the rope claiming that applications, similar to other products and services, are adopted and owned by the business professionals who consume or use them in pursuit of business goals. IT pulls on the rope in the opposite direction insisting that application data, logic, and related processes are developed, managed, owned and operated by IT for the good of the organization which includes approved use by business professionals. Everyone can end up getting burned when each side fails to listen to the other side.

You say Agile Business Solutions, IT says Agile Compliant Development Process

The problem resulting from the conflict between IT and business over business applications is described in “The New Way to Choose Business Applications,” by Forrester Research which identifies a conundrum facing organizations today. On one side is business seeing agile innovation solutions that closely match their specific needs. On the other side is technology management expecting robustness, economics of scale, compliance with their standards and technology that matches their existing skills. When organizations attempt to satisfy both parties, the result is professional developers over scoping projects to deliver solutions that address a broad audience which fits no one well and business buying point solutions while ignoring long-term problems that could result.

Forrester diagnoses applications suffering from “requirements-itis” based on symptoms of bloated user and technology management requirements that can lead to project delays and failures. Its proposed treatment focuses on technology management doing a better job of organizing project scope, objectives and responsibilities, evaluating candidates for providing the applications, and selecting and implementing the application based on project and business outcomes.

Underlying this advice to technology management is for IT to avoid business-driven “point solutions that solve short-term pains but cause longer-term problems” and “bloated requirements that misguide decisions…they stem from an assumption, usually erroneous, that users know what they need.”

Getting to Yes with Citizen Development

Citizen development offers an alternative path for reducing conflicts between business and IT over applications by encouraging greater collaboration between the two sides. It embraces greater involvement by business users who are the ones who feel the pain caused by a lack of effective technology solutions and who know best the business data capture, reporting, analysis and other work processes. It taps the interest among business professionals in contributing time and insights to help select and develop solutions that solve both short and long term problems.

Collaboration Unites Business and IT

The 2016 State of Citizen Development Report paints a bright picture of a rich collaborative application building process for organizations that empower business professionals to build and/or maintain applications. In these environments, nearly three-quarters of IT app builders collaborate during development of the first versions of applications. Among central services teams that also build apps for multiple teams, more than half of app builders collaborate. Even among app builders in lines of business, nearly half of app builders look to others to help with development.

This second annual study of the growing trend of citizen developers in lines of business organization or operations roles who build or maintain applications also reveals a healthy range of models for collaboration between business and IT in developing custom business applications. Instead of a one-size-fits-all model owned and operated exclusively by IT, three models emerge from which organizations can choose to bring together their business and IT teams.

[caption id="attachment_33323" align="alignnone" width="1024"]Collaborative App Dev QuickBase 2016 State of Citizen Development Report[/caption]

Business-led Development

Business-led development represents the most popular model for developing applications, deployed 62% of the time among QuickBase customers surveyed.  It involves business professionals who take primary responsibility for building, deploying and maintaining applications, including building 75% or more of the initial version of the application. IT staff play a supporting role, helping as needed with data integrations and security, governance and other compliance policies.

Balanced Business and IT Development

Balanced development represents the second most popular model for developing applications, deployed 21% of the time among customers surveyed.  It involves business and IT partnering to co-create applications, with each contributing 25-74% of the initial application. Often IT prototypes and iterates development of the early design of the application while business provides real-time feedback into the early design and adds and refines business logic, workflows reports and dashboards.

IT-led Development

IT-led development is deployed 17% of the time among customers surveyed. It involves IT building 75% or more of the initial version of the application.  Business professionals contribute to the process by taking responsibility for maintaining the application through real-time changes and updates of future versions. This includes creating custom reports, updating forms, creating business logic and adding/changing user permissions as needs evolve over time – without writing any code.

[caption id="attachment_33324" align="alignnone" width="1024"]Citizen Development vs Traditional Development QuickBase 2016 State of Citizen Development[/caption]

Citizen development welcomes business and IT to participate in a process that builds applications in less than 2 weeks on average, compared to 2-6 months on average for traditional development according to the QuickBase report.

Get the full 2016 State of Citizen Development Report now.


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