What is a citizen developer? How can they help your business? What is the right citizen developer framework? Let us look at the answers to these questions.

Low code and no-code platforms make it much easier to automate and optimize business processes. Their accessibility means that people without any programming background can learn how to build and deploy applications rapidly. As a result, organizations are becoming leaner and more agile than ever.

Gartner estimates that low code application development will be responsible for more than 65% of application development activity by 2024. In such a scenario, the rise of citizen development can help organizations achieve dramatic advantages in productivity, development speed, and business process automation.

But how do you ensure your “citizen developers” add to your success instead of creating more hassle for your IT department? The key is knowing how to empower your citizen developers.


Gartner defines citizen developers as “users who create new business applications for consumption by others using development and runtime environments sanctioned by corporate IT.”

In short, citizen developers are employees who use low code and no-code platforms to build business applications that optimize business processes and change how a business functions for the better. As a result, employees save time, businesses save money, and IT doesn’t get overwhelmed with application development and other tasks.

And when 68% of IT projects fail, the importance of having a cost-effective approach to application development cannot be overlooked. With the exponential rise in demand for faster deliverability of efficient software, the rise of citizen developers is inevitable. The key is to embrace this change and facilitate the growth of citizen developers to speed up digital transformation and propel the organization’s growth. Let us know how to empower the citizen developers, also known as the citizen developer framework.


However, success is all but guaranteed. To ensure you set your citizen developers up for success and see the benefits that citizen developer tools and solutions provide, you need to empower them. By following these steps, you’ll build an environment that embraces citizen developers and helps you get the most out of rapid application development.


1. Create the Right Culture

Building an app from scratch that fails is an expensive waste of time and money using traditional software development. No business wants to go through that. Luckily, when it comes to low code/no-code development vs traditional development, low code/no code significantly reduces the investment into any application build. But that doesn’t mean that all apps and integrations created on the platform will work.

Just like any programming endeavor, some projects will fail. They may not hit the projected KPIs, or they do not work as expected.

Either way, the first step of the citizen developer framework is to encourage experimenting and risk-taking with your citizen developers. Creating the right culture is of utmost significance. It will cultivate an atmosphere of ingenuity your business will need to succeed.

2. Inspire Your Team to Share Their Ideas

Educating your staff on the citizen development movement can set the foundation for lasting success and adoption. Show them that you’re empowering them to find the best solution to the problems they face every day. And that their work can bring about organizational change.

Inspire your team to share their ideas for improvement. And ensure that you give them the time and tools they need to come up with better solutions. Be sure they know that they have the permission they need to transform your business with better processes rapidly. The more inspired and empowered they feel, the more likely they are to share unique solutions.

3. Set Realistic Expectations

Citizen developers have the power to transform how your business functions rapidly. Using low code and no-code development to build apps is much faster and more affordable than traditional application development. It means that your business will be more agile than ever. However, it would be best if you still tapered your expectations.

Moving app development away from your IT department and opening the doors for anyone in your organization to build apps does bring up a cause for concern. Your citizen developers will need time and training to leverage the advantages of rapid application development fully. And they will still need guidance from your IT professionals.

Setting realistic goals and expectations for your citizen developers will make it easier for your team to embrace the demands of learning and using low code platforms. And it’ll help them see this wave of change as a blessing, not a curse.

4. Decide Areas of Improvement

To get the most out of the transformative processes, you need a targeted approach towards the citizen developer framework. Not every instance of automation, integration, or app development will result in a justifiable ROI. Worse, you could end up with a hodgepodge of disjointed apps that creates more of a headache for everyone involved.

The solution should be to create a roadmap for improvements. Look at which areas of your business could benefit the most from process optimization. Prioritize those departments based on where your more capable employees are. It will increase your chance of success while inspiring others in your organization to follow their lead, thereby helping you empower your citizen developers.

5. Choose the Best Low Code Platform

There are many rapid application development platforms and low code platforms out there. Deciding which one is befitting for your business requires understanding their functionality, use cases, and how well your organization will adopt them.

You also want to make sure the platform is secure, has the features your business needs, and is within your budget. Most low code application platforms follow the SaaS pricing model, meaning you pay for what you use.

6. Give Employees Time for Training

Low code and no-code platforms are designed to drastically reduce the need for code and the time required to build applications. But that doesn’t mean that your employees still don’t need to be trained on the platforms.

Depending on your team members’ code and computing knowledge level, it can take a few hours to a few weeks to learn how to use any given platform effectively.

7. Provide Guidance and Management

CIOs will still need to monitor the application development process. They’ll need to create guardrails for these citizen developers to succeed. Here are a few of the guidelines they’ll need to know:

  • Application lifecycle management
  • Approval processes
  • Compliance and security concerns
  • Testing methodology
  • Change management
  • Incident support
  • Existing architecture

Low code gives your employees the power to build apps, but that doesn’t mean they should be thrown into the deep end. It’s essential to have your teams map out the problems they’re having first. It’s best to have guardrails in place.

As part of the citizen developer framework, before building an app, your citizen developers should know who the app is for, its intended purpose, and the desired result. They should also know if similar solutions exist and if their proposed solution fits within established business objectives.

You’ll also need to know what tasks are best suited for your citizen developers and which ones should stay with your IT department. This will ensure everyone plays to their strengths.

8. Work With Service Vendors

Depending on the platform, they may or may not add services support. Instead, any low code platforms have a network of vendors or partners to train organizations to use their platforms.

Vendors or consultants can work with your business on a one-off basis or continuously to help teach and support staff on the low code/no-code platform your business uses.

9. Remember the Value of Citizen Developers

Democratizing programming throughout your organization can be a challenge. When challenges arise, it’s important to remember the value your citizen developers bring to your company. You’ll reduce instances of shadow IT, keeping your business more secure.

You’ll build the apps and business functions necessary to bring the ideal vision of your business to life. And you’ll relieve your IT department while increasing productivity across your entire organization.

10. Inspire Collaboration Between IT and Citizen Developers

Citizen developers cannot work alone. By definition, they’re not programmers. Often, they do not have a background in programming. This can make them more prone to mistakes. Without support from IT, your citizen developers could waste time creating applications where services already exist. Or they could create faulty applications.

The solution is to create a collaborative environment for your citizen developers and encourage the teams to work together. It’s crucial to take note that these are not two separate groups functioning independently. Instead, your citizen developers work as an extension of your IT department. This way, they get the guidance, support, and guardrails they need to succeed.

11. Display Myths About Citizen Development

Citizen developers will not replace IT. Nor will they create more of a headache for your programmers (as long as they have proper training and guidelines.) It’s essential to reinforce the right mindset with your IT department. They should learn to see citizen developers as an asset that will reduce their burdens.

Rather than being bogged down by an endless list of micro IT tasks to resolve, citizen developers free up your programmers’ time to focus on more critical, high-level concerns. Plus, the applications they create have a better chance of succeeding.


Your citizen developers are on the front end. They know what functionalities are needed to improve the workflows they use. That means they’re in a unique position to build a low code solution that caters to their exact needs.

12. Showcase Citizen Developer Successes

Success inspires adoption and further growth. For your citizen developers to be successful, they cannot function in a vacuum. Instead, have your teams track the time and resources saved with each application created using low code. And have them share customer and client wins as well. The more successful they feel about the work they do, the better their future efforts will be.

13. Realize that Citizen Development is Here to Stay

It’s also important to understand that application development in businesses is trending toward mass adoption of citizen development.

According to Gartner, by 2023, there will be four times more citizen developers than traditional programmers in large enterprises. Plus, over 40% of businesses surveyed already have citizen development initiatives in place. And 20% of those that don’t are looking into them.

An indispensable factor in leveraging citizen developers is picking the right technology and tools.

No one can deny the advantage that reducing the strain on your IT department has for an organization. Nor can they argue against the ability to produce compliant, secure solutions that streamline business processes rapidly.

Originally published here.