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How to Build a Team of Talented Citizen Developers

Skilled citizen developers don’t just suddenly appear. They require training and encouragement.

The idea sounds great in concept — allowing non-technical employees to create applications for use by themselves or others using pre-approved tools. Yet, in practice, building a citizen developer team requires comprehensive training, strong support, and close oversight.

Citizen developers use low-code/no-code to develop amazingly diverse applications, says Ori Bendet, vice president of product management at enterprise security testing firm Checkmarx, in an email interview. "Applications created by citizen developers range from complete mobile applications to workflow applications, core business applications and more," he notes. "With a lower barrier to entry, low-code and no-code development's possibilities are endless."

Citizen development can help enterprises overcome the current IT talent shortage while achieving innovation at scale. "The benefit is actually double," Bendet says. "It also opens a career path for existing employees who want to expand into new areas of development."

Key Benefits

Citizen development democratizes application creation, opening a way for non-technical users to build solutions that are important to them, accelerating innovation while reducing IT workload, explains Dinesh Varadharajan, chief product officer with low code application development platform provider Kissflow, via email. Citizen development can also enhance collaboration between IT and other departments, bridging gaps in understanding and priorities. "By leveraging business user insights, citizen development can lead to more user-centric solutions."

Citizen developers are typically closer to business processes than other developers. "In fact, they're usually already subject matter experts," observes Wayne Butterfield, a partner at technology research advisory firm ISG in an email interview. Additionally, the cost of training a citizen developer is typically already accounted for, so there's very little incremental cost — at least on the resource side — when looking at a citizen developer pool for resources.

As generative AI continues evolving, the level of programming abstraction is expected to increase significantly, enabling more business users with minimal coding knowledge to build increasingly sophisticated applications, Varadharajan predicts. "Traditional programming may become more focused on system-level programming and highly complex solutions, while the development of custom applications will predominantly be in the hands of citizen developers."

Read the rest of this article on InformationWeek.

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