Cit Dev good for IT

Why Citizen Development Is Good for IT

Written By: Mick Weidner
July 27, 2021
4 min read

This post was originally published in May 2016 and updated in July 2021.

In the past, IT worked separately from the business and the rest of the organization. While business leaders handled operations, sales, and strategy, IT leaders focused on all the tasks pertaining to technology.

What changed? Just about everything.

In the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, digital transformation efforts have accelerated drastically. As a result, there has been a necessary agile transformation as organizations are prioritizing movement to cloud, digitizing manual processes, and enabling a remote workforce.

Business leaders outside of IT have realized that in order to stay competitive in a constantly changing climate, it is absolutely imperative to support business agility, innovation, and operational efficiency from a technology perspective.

The role of the IT department has been elevated to a more strategic growth role. Yet now, IT leaders face the issue of enabling faster innovation while also mitigating risks and costs. And the organizations doing so with agile citizen development are the ones having the most success.

While the role of IT has changed, technology has shifted the capabilities of IT along with the entire organization. Here is how citizen development is a part of this new technology landscape, and how IT can drive positive growth with agile low code development.

Empowering Business Leaders

Historically, IT did everything from core app development to database design and administration to keeping everyone’s computers up and running. Yet now, almost every business function is tied to a program or app—which must 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. This puts IT in the position of creating solutions for specific processes and workflows that exist outside their scope of expertise—an approach that wastes time, energy, and resources.

One of the best ways to address the growing IT backlog is for IT leaders to encourage business users to make the transformation they see as most impactful.

Citizen development allows non-IT teams to become technological problem solvers. They can create, test, adapt, and deploy cloud-based apps to meet a specific function — all without writing a single line of code. Further, citizen development democratizes the development process. With the right governance structure in place, IT can lead a partnership with the business that has appropriate guardrails while also encouraging the business to innovate.

CCI Systems leveraged this partnership effectively to create project tracking and quality control applications. The first application that business team built handles and automates job entry, tracks project progress, and reports quality control data. Now, CCI Systems has their business teams in close contact with IT throughout the building process to review compliance and security requirements.

IT Leading the Charge

With the critical responsibility of leading digital transformation efforts across the organization, offloading non-priority tasks is a relevant topic for IT.

While some IT leaders fear that dispersing development capabilities will lead to a governance and security nightmare, agile low-code development platforms like Quickbase allow IT to maintain robust administrative controls on citizen development in addition to a comprehensive security and regulatory compliance program that meets several industry standards.

This presents an opportunity to shift responsibility away from the IT department and into the hands of business users so that they can create solutions for the processes they are closest to.

Citizen development can certainly turn into “shadow IT,” but when done properly with the right governance in place, it elevates IT’s perspective. Freed from the demands of request backlogs, IT leaders can focus on what they do best: optimizing the company’s use of technology to stay agile and competitive while also creating controls to protect from internal and worldwide security threats. This allows companies to maintain business operations while simultaneously protecting people, data, and customers.

Accelerating Agile Transformation

As businesses search for a way to manage digital transformation without exceeding IT’s bandwidth, agile low-code development platforms like Quickbase emerge as a comprehensive and practical solution.

These low-code platforms enable citizen development—which is the organizational practice of business professionals who are not trained in a technological discipline, to build, deploy, and keep improving applications in a safe and controlled manner that is governed by an organization’s IT department.

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. As forward-thinking IT leaders have learned, loosening the technological reins benefits them in many ways.

Learn from organizations who are succeeding:

Written By: Mick Weidner
Mick Weidner, an Air Force veteran with an MPA, has an eclectic background that includes broadcasting, project management, grant writing, technical editing, and public policy advocacy. She has a passion for simplicity and getting things done.

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