Why Citizen Development Is Good for IT

May 19, 2016
6 Min Read
Why Citizen Development Is Good for IT

Why Citizen Development Is Good for IT


In simpler times, IT and business were separate departments within an organization. Business leaders focused on operations, sales, strategy, and management, while IT leaders handled all tasks pertaining to technology.

What changed? Just about everything, it seems, thanks to low-code rapid application development, which allows every businessperson with an idea to become a “citizen developer.”

The dynamics of today’s fast-paced global marketplace and the constant evolution of technology require that companies break out of their traditional silos and rethink how they do business within their business. And forward-thinking IT leaders have learned that loosening the technological reigns benefits them in many ways.

Here are three reasons why IT leaders need to embrace citizen development.


It Empowers Business Leaders

Historically, IT did everything from core app development to database design and administration to keeping everyone’s computers up and running. But now almost every business function is tied to a program or app—which has to scale and evolve as the business changes.

As a result, most IT departments are inundated with endless requests for them to either debug old programs or create apps to address new needs. At the same time, users need their programs accessible on mobile devices.

This puts IT in the position of creating solutions for problems they didn’t fully understand from a line-of-business perspective—an approach that wastes time, energy and resources.

One of the best ways to address an IT department’s backlog of requests is for IT leaders to encourage business leaders to get in the game.

Citizen development allows non-IT folks to become technological problem solvers. Instead of waiting on IT, they can create, test, adapt, and deploy cloud-based apps to meet their specific needs…all without writing a single line of code.

IT retains the ability to approve or disapprove apps, collaborate with the business user on the right levels of governance and control based on the type and size of application being used, or choose to build the first iteration and hand off to the line-of-business user for the last mile.


Refocusing IT on the Big Picture

While some IT leaders fear that the technological revolution threatens their role by distributing some traditional IT functions to business leaders, the fact is that with citizen development, the IT department plays a more essential role than ever before.

When they are freed from the demands of request backlogs, IT leaders can focus on what they do best: They ensure that they are optimizing the company’s use of technology to keep the company agile and competitive while also creating controls to protect the company from internal and worldwide security threats.

In many ways, citizen development actually elevates the role of IT. Now your IT department can shift away from tech support toward technological thought leadership.


It Saves Your Business Money

Creating new programs from scratch is a very time-consuming process that involves months of coding and testing, followed by ongoing debugging. Few companies have the means to use such a costly process for every app needed by every department.

The cost savings associated with citizen development cannot be overstated. Forrester Consulting recently affirmed this by conducting a study of one of the leading low-code rapid application development platforms, QuickBase. According to their study, organizations saved an average of eight weeks of development time per application using Quickbase. That’s a 60-85% reduction of time.

Forrester also reports the average organization saw a cost savings of $19,231 per new app. This cost savings enabled composite organizations to build 55 new apps a year, resulting in a three-year, risk-adjusted total cost savings over earlier methods of $2,538,462. This resulted in a ROI of 260%.

Those numbers speak for themselves and make it clear that citizen development, done right, is a win-win for both IT and line-of-business leadership.


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