Citizen Development: Harnessing Its Power for PMOs.

Citizen Development

Citizen development is a great new approach to dealing with IT needs that a lot of (Project Management Office) PMOs are now adopting. This innovative and inclusive approach to software development addresses the ever-increasing need for PMOs to keep abreast with technological change and the concomitant demand for user-friendly, hassle-free applications. Professional IT departments are not always best to shoulder all the responsibilities related to digital transformation. 

That’s where the ingenious idea of citizen development comes in as a broad-based and innovative solution. It enables project managers and implementers to develop applications on their own and in accordance with the most pressing PMO needs. Of course, they need to have solid computer and basic IT skills to use the low-code/no-code (LCNC) platforms, but with those skills taken for granted, almost any team member could take a stab at it.

I would not be exaggerating by any stretch of the imagination if I argue that citizen development has multiple benefits for the PMO and project management. By project management, I mean its agile and strategic version. Initially, this is far better for the current needs of success-oriented PMOs. Although traditional, waterfall types of project management would also gain. The benefits span many different sectors, whether it be public agencies, banks, or development organizations. There is growing evidence that citizen development works and that it works well for both organizations and individual employees. Take a look at what these benefits are and why they are important for the PMO and project management, irrespective of the field.

Cost-Effectiveness in Citizen Development

This is an obvious one. With IT demands being extremely taxing on professional IT departments, LCNC platforms provide substantial cost-saving opportunities to PMOs. PMOs can thus channel the savings to other, under-resourced needs. Experts estimate that by using LCNC resources, applications can be developed 10 times faster when compared with traditional methods. 

PMOs can also expect savings on the maintenance of the new software. Maintenance is normally a separate line item in the operational budgets. Higher-end products usually require significant inputs to avoid disruptions and breakdown. The maintenance cost is minimal for the applications developed by citizen developers. The overall cost to develop and maintain LCNC -based applications is estimated to be 74% lower than the cost of traditional development led by IT professionals. In addition, LCNC platforms hosting training sizable cost reductions, as shown by the experience of Aioi Nissay Dowa Insurance. The company was able to save $1.4 million as a result of creative use of LCNC tools. 

Citizen Development: Breaking Down Organizational Silos

As citizen developers engage in software or application development, coordination with other departments of an organization becomes an absolute must. LCNC platforms do not require expert IT skills to use, but they definitely need citizen developers to ensure that the end products are relevant to an PMO’s needs. From the perspective of effective PMO role, this is a great way of breaking down silos, which exist in all organizations. Improved teamwork and camaraderie are the important by-products of citizen development, which have long-term benefits. Citizen developers cannot go it alone, and it always takes a team effort to ensure that the end product meets the critical needs of an organization. Importantly, this includes coordination of IT and non-IT employees too.

Enhancing Agility through Citizen Development

Citizen development also has the potential to make the PMO more agile. It expects non-IT employees to demonstrate adaptability and willingness to learn – two key attributes of an agile organization. From the perspective of the PMO, citizen development becomes a new and unconventional way of spurring continuous learning as an iterative and inclusive process.

Fostering Innovation with Citizen Development

By encouraging non-IT staff to become software and application developers, PMOs can create a workspace conducive to creativity and innovation. As it happens, when people are given space and opportunity to punch above their weight, they usually outdo themselves by coming up with something extraordinary. Citizen development thus becomes a great approach to egging people on to think outside the box. Agile organizations need to be innovative and creative. Equally, they need to be adaptive and committed to continuous learning. 

Citizen Development’s Role in Digital Transformation

The more employees get involved in citizen development, the better for the PMO and digital transformation. As PMOs take steps to adapt to the needs of digital transformation, citizen development becomes a timely and cost-effective method. It nurtures an organizational culture propitious for project personnel and other non-IT employees to embrace change and make it work for themselves and the organization. It is this type of culture that becomes pivotal in weathering the storm of imminent changes and making the most of new opportunities for development.

The Relevance and Flexibility of Citizen-Developed Solutions

The involvement of PMO personnel as citizen developers warrants the relevance of newly developed software and applications. No one could be more intrinsically motivated to ensure that they serve the purpose than the end-users themselves. I’m sure you can recall cases when even very expensive IT products turned out to be missing the mark. When developed in isolation from an organization’s core strategic goals and needs, they become underutilized. With less stringent requirements imposed, citizen developers have more flexibility to make adjustments as they go. As application development becomes faster, citizen development makes it easier to maintain the end products. 

Summary: The Impact of Citizen Development in PMOs

Citizen development has been winning over an increasing number of progressive PMOs and organizations. There is growing evidence that it leads to substantial cost-savings, encourages innovation, and makes organizations more agile. PMOs use it effectively to ease the workload of professional IT departments. Such departments are often understaffed or incapable of dealing with an ever-increasing list of requests and demands. 

Citizen development makes a valuable contribution to an organizational culture that promotes creativity and initiative. In the current era of digital transformation, it is critical for agile organizations to create opportunities for their employees. This is to test and improve their digital skills. The experience of the organizations and companies that have started using LCNC platforms for their non-IT employees to develop new applications shows that citizen development is definitely worth the effort. Until next time, you are up to date.

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