We have looked at ways to overcome some of the roadblocks to implementing low-code/no-code and citizen development. These challenges include not having a clear strategy, not having well-documented processes, and not understanding what software is currently in use and in development. We also covered the importance of training for citizen developers and the potential consequences of shadow IT.
Now, we will build on the thinking from the previous lesson. We’ll look more practically at how to ensure that your company is ready for you to start building with low-code / no-code tools.
We realize that this might not be your responsibility directly, but understanding the highlights will help you to have productive conversations with your stakeholders, especially the IT department.
In summary, in an ideal setting, there is a citizen development center of excellence established. This center of excellence takes care of the following:
- Defining the strategy of the citizen development and low-code / no-code programs, to ensure standards and consistency in line with the goals
- The administration of citizen development from an IT perspective
- Governance of citizen development to ensure corporate compliance
- The rollout plan for citizen development across the enterprise
Citizen Development Center of Excellence
We have covered the importance of a clear vision and plan for citizen development in the previous lesson, so we won’t go through all those details again. However, when you were learning about all of that, you might have been thinking, "Is it my job to do this? Who should be responsible for that?"
What is important for you to know, as it relates to this lesson, is that the IT department should be leading the charge to establish citizen development at your company, and, ideally, a dedicated, enthusiastic, cross-functional team is helping them to run this process.
Together, this team of managers, business users, and IT employees forms the core, the people-part, of the center of excellence. They are the ones who collaborate to analyze the current status, decide the next steps, overcome the roadblocks and challenges, utilize the coping strategies, and implement a strong program.
Administration of Citizen Development from an IT Perspective
While the IT department may or may not use low-code / no-code tools themselves, they will need to prepare the technical environments and manage the outputs of the builders. We covered the persona of the IT Admin in a previous lesson, and what we are referring to here is the formalization of the role they fill and the processes they perform via standards and guidelines that are established by the center of excellence.
Administration covers how the technology should be acquired and set up, integrations to other existing software applications, and who should have what levels of access and permissions. It also takes care of managing the lifecycles of automations and applications. This includes updates with new versions, testing, and deployment.
The technical considerations go much deeper than that of course, but, as a citizen developer, you shouldn’t need to worry about those things. You only need to be aware that behind the scenes, your IT colleagues are handling administration for you.
Governance of Citizen Development
Now you know who should do the administrative work for citizen development implementation, but how do IT admins know exactly what work to do? What about an end-to-end view of all citizen development and making sure that it runs appropriately?
Governance is a decision-making process that a company uses to make sure that technical activities and applications "add value." This means that they contribute to the company’s success. The way the citizen development center of excellence can add value is by ensuring that applications and platforms are compatible with company systems according to pre-defined requirements. Additionally, it can add value by making sure that the company’s databases and applications and software are secure from attack by setting security standards.
In terms of low-code / no-code development, good governance includes instituting clear procedures and specifications for the following:
- Developing or acquiring an appropriate low-code / no-code platform to use.
- Providing training for key employee personas, that is, the non-technical "citizen developer," professional developers, and IT administrators.
- Setting up oversight processes, which, for our purposes, means establishing clear requirements, approvals and integration processes, and rules for lifecycle management for all low-code /no-code apps and extensions.
With the processes and rules led by the center of excellence, the low-code/no-code tools can also help enforce governance, for example, by controlling the deployment of new applications along a few automated parameters.
Remember that governance is not just about imposing rules. A big reason that more and more companies are getting on board with low-code / no-code development is that it can eliminate risky shadow IT "solutions" by making such on demand solutions unnecessary. A bigger reason is that low-code / no-code development is a key tool to drive innovation and champion change in organizations. Good governance ensures that this is done successfully.
Rollout of Citizen Development Across the Enterprise
Finally, the center of excellence should define the plan to roll out citizen development across your company. Typically, this would start with a very small group of "alpha" users, who help the IT department understand how everything should work by tactically getting into the details and trying to build prototypes with low-code / no-code.
This first group of users is slightly more technically savvy, so the Power User of the Citizen Developer persona, and they help reveal key points or bugs that need to be addressed in the setup and areas of confusion or conflict that need to be resolved.
Then, the group of users is expanded slightly, and the rollout goes into a "beta" phase. This is the time when they should involve a broader cross-section of citizen developers, even the business users who have no knowledge about code. The beta phase will help the IT department to create the ideal profile for a citizen developer in their company, the type of training they want to put into place, and the certifications that builders require before allowing them to use low-code / no-code tools.
There are lots of best-practice benchmarks in the market and there are recommendations available from SAP to help the IT department plan the rollout. However, every company should go through this process to come up with their own version of what works best for their business and people.
Once that is understood, the beta phase is completed, and citizen development can be rolled out to your entire company. By then, everyone interested can understand what it takes to become an active builder with low-code / no-code technology and the various other roles they might need to play.
Summary: Paving the Path for Low-Code / No-Code Adoption
To summarize, today we’ve talked about how an IT department can set up a citizen development center of excellence to define the strategy and goals for implementing a no-code / low-code program. We’ve reviewed the different activities that the center of excellence should oversee, from administration, to governance, to the rollout of citizen development over time.
While you may not personally need to know about these topics, it is important for you to understand what is required, and to have the right background for productive discussions with your partners in other departments.
In addition to becoming a citizen developer yourself, you will actively help the growth of citizen development at your company, and that’s the topic of our next lesson. I’ll see you in the next video!