Power your application development arsenal with citizen development

A thoughtfully planned citizen development program can help when your business needs solutions faster than IT can deliver.

Adam Hutton

Adam Hutton

Director, ServiceNow Certified Master Architect, KPMG LLP

+1 646-265-4350

It’s a familiar tale: across the business, teams are begging for technology solutions to help serve their customers and operations, but traditional IT is already outstretched in its ability to deliver. Most organizations recognize that they have some, if not significant, untapped potential for application analysis, design and development residing with knowledge workers closest to the business processes– and outside IT. However, most IT organizations have not developed a repeatable solution, or operating model, that can pair need with these untapped abilities.

The concept of citizen development, though not new is trending with the further advancement of low-code platforms, but it’s rarely deployed effectively across the organization.  The ServiceNow App Engine Studio is taking the initiative to create a robust citizen development program that can put talent to work directly on solutions. Here’s how.

Creating a Successful Citizen Development Program

First, think about a citizen development effort as a program in and of itself.  To be successfully adopted, citizen development programs need to be viewed as more than reducing IT’s workload, through procuring licenses and divvying out access. They also need a clear definition of success. Second, consider the tools and investments needed to meet a successful citizen development program, including planning and multi-stakeholder buy-in. Begin by acknowledging that an operating model needs built that spans traditional organizational structures.  Such a model needs to consider the impact on non-IT employee performance goals - such as, considering staff’s “day jobs” vs. what is often undertaken as ‘weekend bonus work.’  Third, IT operational barriers need to be addressed - addressing operational challenges – especially the traditional ‘throw it over the wall’ method of sending an application to be supported by an IT operational team.

Key to success: don’t just focus on citizen and forget the development. While it’s true that the purpose of the program is initially to shift some of the app analysis, design, and development burden off of IT and onto a new group of contributors - successful citizen development programs need new services for citizens now doing ‘development’ in at least some low-code capacity.  To enable the long-term success of the new applications coming out of a citizen development program – support tools and services need to be readily available and cost effective to use.

How should IT support a citizen development program?

Internal technology groups now faced with supporting these new ‘citizens’ should consider providing consulting services, program planning, expansion assistance/scalability, robustness or scale-up services, and ongoing support.

IT can also recommend which applications citizen development participants should be empowered to create based on use, reliance, data sensitivity/ importance, and scalability. Stakeholders will need to decide if you’ll allow citizen development participants to build and operate production-grade, high-value business apps outside of IT. How about high-profile, sensitive data applications? Who will transition citizen development innovations to full-scale builds and what is the criteria for transitioning? Take your time getting to the answers that will guide your citizen development program over the long term

Investing in a creative citizen development environment

An investment in ServiceNow’s App Engine Studio can be the foundation for your citizen development program by providing a low-code, visual, app development environment that allows citizen developers of all skill levels to work from the ground up or use ServiceNow templates. App Engine Studio allows  citizen developers to benefit from:

  • One low-code collaboration place for workflows and integrations.
  • Templates that let developers start quickly with best-practice designs that satisfy a variety of use cases.
  • Visual workflow to automate effortlessly and connect natively to third-party systems.
  • Drag-and-drop functionality to compose app workspaces in an easy no-code interface.

If you create the right environment for invention, you’ll find that your untapped talent will discover the opportunity quickly and be eager to participate.

Knowing your risk profiles and choosing where apps should live

Part of your citizen development program should be defining use cases for appropriate citizen development applications, including risk profiles for the type of data they’ll contain and the use cases they’ll enable. When you know your risk profiles, you can choose where your Citizen development applications should reside.

Normally the answer to where is all on the same production instance.  However, this isn’t always the case – the profiles for what you want to deploy and how you plan to deploy them can drive decisions in this space.  While rare, there are circumstances in which risk profiles suggest apps should live on different production instances to keep sensitive or proprietary data segregated. These can include the need for stringent command-and-control of an application suite requiring significantly more oversight than the rest of your ServiceNow applications. You may also prefer a separate instance for a high volume of low- to medium-value applications, with correspondingly lower risk profiles, that will be deployed rapidly by many users.

How do we get started?

Intrigued by the prospect of creating a citizen development program for your organization? KPMG can help you build one that’s customized to your unique business needs and intelligently leverages ServiceNow resources. We know that citizen development programs can be very successful when viewed holistically and not as just a mechanism to offload some of IT’s overload. IT is crucial to a Citizen development program -- problem-solving when their expertise is needed and streamlining operational hand offs – but Citizen development innovation to accelerate the easy and the urgent for the benefit of your entire organization is a great idea. Citizen developers unite!

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