Citizen Development and LCNC

An example of a LCNC platform aiding Citizen Development

Understanding the Core of Citizen Development and LCNC Challenges

Citizen development and the efficient use of low-code/no-code (LCNC) platforms have already gained currency. Presently, a lot of result-oriented, high-impact organizations have incorporated them into their organizational culture and workflows. The benefits have already been well-researched and well-documented. They range from considerable cost savings and faster development times to improved coordination and better partnerships. 

In addition, there is ample space for citizen development to flourish as an innovative and creative approach to making project and portfolio management more effective and efficient. As estimated by 2025, half of all the business buyers that purchase low-code development platforms will come from non-IT entities. Now, this is not to say that citizen development and the use of LCNC come without challenges. There are certain risks that organizations need to take into account to minimize their impact on project and portfolio management. Below, I review the key considerations project managers should make to that end.  

Quality and Usability in Citizen Development

While citizen development offers significant cost-savings and makes software and application development a fast and efficient process, some experts cast doubt on the ultimate quality of the end products. This is an important consideration. LCNC platforms are great resources for non-IT employees. They enable non-IT staff to develop creative applications on their own. However, organizations need to be cognizant of the limitations of such applications. 

They should not be substitutes for higher-end IT solutions that require expert involvement. LCNC platforms are not for developing complex applications that require extensive customization and integration of other applications. These tasks are for professional IT departments or external vendors to deal with.

Ensuring Data Security in LCNC Implementations

It is a prudent decision for to plan for specific measures and ensure the security of new applications. With the emergence of cyber threats across the globe, no software or application is immune to cyber attacks. The likelihood of compromised or weak security may become an issue. 

That’s why it is of critical importance to ensure close coordination between citizen developers and the IT department. It is important that the application development falls under the general rules, regulations, and procedures. This is to ensuring data integrity and security. No one would want to be in the development of an application that might lead to an inadvertent loss of data or personally identifiable information for that matter.

Tracking Progress in Citizen Development

It is important to document the process of development. Some might overlook the need for capturing all the learning from the processes of trial and error, refinement, and multiple testing. It is due to the number of citizen developers grows in an organization. It is therefore of critical importance to create a repository of the key documents, processes, and lessons learned. The IT departments also have a role to play by supporting their non-IT colleagues with useful tips and advice. Additionally, create embedded application templates to automate some of the processes.

Essential IT Skills for LCNC Platforms

While it is true that citizen developers are not IT professionals, they still need to have solid computer and basic IT skills. LCNC platforms are not suitable for someone who is just starting to learn the ropes. It would be more practical and beneficial to have employees take some basic IT and computer courses before they can start experimenting with LCNC platforms. Otherwise, the process might become unnecessarily protracted, wearisome, and ineffective.

Coordinating IT and Non-IT in LCNC Adoption

For effective LCNC platforms, citizen developers must ensure continuous coordination with all departments of an organization concerned. Importantly, this means coordination between the IT department and citizen developers. It’s likely that some of the professional IT staff might be unhappy with the involvement of non-IT experts. At worst, they might even go so far as to push back, fearing for their job security or questioning the credibility of non-IT employees.

Project managers need to make sure that all stakeholders understand the benefits of citizen development, responsibilities, and expectations. Senior executives need to reaffirm their support and commitment to the process to avoid ambiguity about strategic choices and roles within an organization. Where coordination was managed properly, the IT departments were able to set up appropriate administration and governance tools to create an enabling environment for application development with commensurate oversight mechanisms.  

Sustaining Projects in Citizen Development

In organizations with a high staff turnover, citizen development might face the risk of creating applications that won’t be used for a long time. These applications need to be constantly updated and refined based on the lessons learned through their application. Each new product must be owned and shepherded by dedicated employees to ensure its sustainability. 

It does not always help to keep handing newly developed applications from one person to another. The reason for this is a natural lack of interest to “own” something that you did not develop. Therefore, the organizations with higher staff retention rates are more likely to benefit from citizen development.

The Future of LCNC and Citizen Development

Citizen development and the use of LCNC platforms are a great way of incentivizing non-IT employees. Most especially, implement innovative ideas and solutions. Thus, they enable those who know best of the organizational needs and challenges to come up with solutions that address them effectively. Agile organizations seeking to take advantage of the opportunities digital transformation offers cannot turn a blind eye to this new trend.

That said, the process comes with both opportunities and challenges. It requires project and portfolio managers to take purposeful and judiciously planned actions. More importantly, assess and mitigate the risks associated with citizen development. To allay fears of the IT department, LCNC platforms should not be a substitute for professional IT services. On the contrary, they should be perceived and used as resources that complement. They should not substitute the expert-driven IT processes and procedures. When associated risks are in a transparent manner, LCNC platforms bring about multiple benefits to both organizations at large and individual employees. Until next time, you are up to date.