Who Are Citizen Developers?

By Toni Buffa | Published May 2, 2023

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"Citizen developers" are changing the way applications are created. But who are they?

Throughout recent years, industries of all sizes have been enabling and encouraging the rise of citizen developers in their organizations. Citizen development comes from the word citizen developer, a term first coined by the technology analyst firm Gartner. The difference between a citizen developer and a typical IT developer is that a citizen developer is a non-professional software developer who creates or contributes to developing software applications using low-code or no-code platforms. In other words, a citizen developer is a persona, not a title or role.

In business, the history of citizen developers started with two factors: a shortage of developers and the beginning of low-code and no-code platforms. Citizen developers are becoming increasingly important in modern organizations as they provide a cost-effective and efficient way to build software applications that can improve business processes, automate tasks, and drive innovation.  

This post will define what a citizen developer is, their impact on an organization, and the challenges to overcome.

Defining Citizen Developers

Some of the most common defining characteristics of a successful citizen developer are:

  • Domain expertise: Citizen developers typically have deep domain knowledge and expertise in their respective fields, whether it's finance, marketing, HR, or any other business function. This expertise allows them to identify pain points and inefficiencies in their business processes that can be addressed through software automation.
  • Willingness to learn: Citizen developers are not necessarily trained in software development but are willing to learn and adapt to new technologies and platforms. They are curious and open-minded and can learn new concepts and techniques quickly.
  • Collaboration: Citizen developers can work collaboratively with other stakeholders in their organizations, including IT departments, business analysts, and end users. They can communicate effectively and translate business requirements into technical specifications.
  • Attention to detail: Citizen developers can pay close attention to detail, ensuring their applications are error-free and meet the required quality standards. They can thoroughly test their applications and identify and fix bugs or issues.

Citizen Developers Impact

A past Integrify blog, "The Rise of the Citizen Developer and Its Impact on the Enterprise," shares eight positive impacts citizen developers bring to an organization. Other than these eight benefits, some others to add are:  

  • Increased productivity and efficiency: Allowing non-technical employees to create custom applications that automate tasks will reduce the need for manual tasks and frees up time for employees to focus on more strategic tasks.
  • Cost savings and reduced dependency on IT: By leveraging low-code or no-code platforms, citizen developers can create custom applications without requiring extensive coding skills or IT support.
  • Rapid application development and deployment: This allows organizations to respond quickly to changing business needs and to test new ideas and processes with minimal risk.
  • Empowerment of non-technical employees: By involving non-technical employees in the development process, organizations can ensure that their applications are aligned with business needs and are more likely to be adopted by end users.

Challenges to Consider:

It is important to note that citizen development also presents challenges, such as maintaining data security and governance, ensuring quality control, and providing adequate training and support for citizen developers. 

Organizations must establish clear guidelines and governance frameworks to ensure that citizen development is done safely and efficiently and that the resulting applications are of high quality and meet the organization's needs.

In conclusion, citizen development is a rapidly growing trend that empowers employees to create custom applications that automate tasks and streamline business processes. By leveraging low-code or no-code platforms, citizen developers can create applications quickly and easily, reducing costs, increasing efficiency, and driving innovation. We encourage organizations to embrace citizen development and provide employees with the necessary resources and support to succeed.

citizen developer  

Project Management   Business Ideas  

Toni Buffa

Toni is a member of the Integrify marketing team and writes for the Integrify blog. Toni lives in Colorado and loves animals of all stripes.