The rise of the citizen developers – IMHO

I am so intrigued and to a certain extent, obsessed with the terminology “citizen developers”. It is the same feeling that I had when Agile became a cliché and everyone starting to profess and adopt a lean methodology. I reckon it’s not a new concept, many attempts have been made in the past. To my recollection Microsoft Access, QuickBase and Zoho are some of the envisaged and adopted solutions to empower the end-users to become developers.

“A citizen developer is a user who creates new business applications for consumption by others using development and runtime environments sanctioned by corporate IT. In the past, end-user application development has typically been limited to single-user or workgroup solutions built with tools like Microsoft Excel and Access. However, today, end users can build departmental, enterprise and even public applications using shared services, fourth-generation language (4GL)-style development platforms and cloud computing services.”

“Excerpt from Gartner on citizen developer “

The ability for the “subject matter expert” to develop their application, removes the pitfall of having to articulate the scope and requirements to someone outside their domain. The constraint of not fully understanding the business and their processes have been the common cause for “Scope Creep” and end-users having to use application or system that fully does not meet their expectations. Time, cost and resource availability will become an internal factor; being controlled in line with their business goals and aspirations. This would allow businesses to thoroughly understand their problem from an IT perspective, an opportunity to improvise, improve and innovate on the deliverables.

The adoption of this concept has been slow, the primary concern to Citizen Developers adoption has have been around the governance of IT standards, audit, security, and compliance with information technology norms. The ownership and lack of openness have been common concerns from both sides of the business. In Interim a new role has come into play; nothing so new. The role of an IT Functional Consultant has brought balance and sanity to this “dogma”. Someone that acts as the “Solution Architect” between IT and business. Hence, bringing hope for citizen developers (“Shadow IT “) to take on IT best practices, tools, and processes throughout their solution building.

Hopefully, this will encourage more organization to support their internal citizen developers; thus help to bridge the gap between IT and business.


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