Selecting a suitable citizen development platform is one thing. Getting employees to actually become citizen developers and use the platform to build solutions, is another. This is a common problem for many organizations. Without a proper onboarding process and the right environment for business users to start experimenting, your organization just risks ending up with a lot of cool tools that nobody uses. 

The solution? Make the process clear, engaging and straightforward. Be sure to intertwine citizen development in all suitable company processes. Citizen development needs to become second nature. 

Easier said than done – true. No worries, here are ten steps to make it happen: 

  1. Establishing support from executive sponsors at an early stage. In order to successfully adopt citizen development, the leadership team needs to make innovation and digitization a top priority for the whole business. From there, you can set up a core group of ‘first users,’ consisting of the most enthusiastic problem solvers in the business. Long story short: it all starts with the CEO carrying out the message that innovation is crucial and getting more and more people on board. Any attempt at digitization without dedicated backing of the leadership team will inevitably fail. 
  2. Identifying the problem solvers in their organization: the people that are already finding their own solutions for problems they encounter. Who are the people who think outside of the box – the inspirational, hands-on employees who look for and actually create the solution for any problem themselves? Those are the people that create a support base within the organization if you involve them in setting up citizen development. 
  3. Learning what these problem solvers do and how they do it. How do they think? How do they work? Who do they turn to for help while solving their problems? How can they help to make citizen development happen by inspiring others to adopt their way of working? 
  4. Researching and selecting a low- and no-code platform that helps IT support the business. Start by mapping out your business needs from a citizen development platform. There are plenty of options out there and you want to prevent making the wrong choice. What are your requirements when it comes to functionalities, security, user friendliness, integration with other IT systems – and which platform meets them? 
  5. Implementing and integrating the chosen platform into the current infrastructure. Once you’ve found the right platform for your organization, it’s essential to properly integrate it with all your current IT-systems so any business user can seamlessly build, deliver, and implement their built solutions. 
  6. Establishing governance guidelines to ensure a fast and safe delivery of beautiful business applications. It makes no sense to develop applications if you can’t actually use them afterwards. Establishing governance guidelines facilitates the collaboration between IT and business, and allows IT to oversee the process. 
  7. Setting up a process for ideation, to gather the best ideas. Every single employee probably has a great idea for a new application or other software solutions that can help the company. Encourage them to share their ideas by setting up a recurring dedicated meeting to talk about innovation and new technology. The great thing about citizen development is that the person who had the idea can actually get involved with the development process. How exciting is that? 
  8. Inaugurating a place for citizen development in the Software Delivery Life Cycle. This basically means there needs to be a pipeline to deliver business apps in a safe and deployable way. Organizations implementing a citizen development strategy are adding a second pipeline, besides IT, which delivers business applications. Although built by the business, your organization needs a process to assess if the app is still safe, efficient and adding value. This allows for IT to govern the whole process and guide the citizen developers without getting in their way making sure they still innovate. 
  9. Organizing an onboarding process and setting up a proper training for new citizen developers in the business. In order to get people involved with citizen development you need to train them properly. Get them familiar with the steps of turning an idea into something ‘tangible,’ introduce them to the functionalities of the platform, and help them to get started. The IT department acts as a mentor in the process. Also, set up a Center of Excellence within the organization.
  10. Establishing a maintenance process, ensuring that this cost driver is minimized. It’s essential to identify which applications produced in the citizen development platform require maintenance. As the number of apps built on the platform increases, some apps will need updates while others become obsolete. Having a process in place to assess which applications need maintenance over time, at what frequency, and how this should be done, will make citizen development more efficient and ultimately minimize the cost aspect. This is what makes citizen development in the business really beneficial and worth the investment.