If you’re talking about citizen development, you’re talking about speed, digitization and results. Sounds good, doesn’t it? Citizen developers have little to no knowledge in IT but build entire applications using no-code and low-code platforms. They bring a real added value to your company.

However: without a good strategy and strong management, things can get messy fast. And that will make it difficult to convince your stakeholders of the advantages of citizen development.

Similar to traditional application development, you also need a process in citizen development. What’s more: you need a real citizen development governance model.

Sigh… That sounds like a lot of work! You do need to realize that you won’t be able to implement citizen development in your company in a day. But without a governance model, mistakes will be made. And correcting those mistakes will cost you more time than creating a citizen development governance model.

Just imagine what would happen if you didn’t offer your citizen developers a clear framework:

  • Citizen developers that start building with limited knowledge and without guidelines, rarely deliver a functional application. The result? More work instead of less for your IT department, because they will have to fix the problems.  
  • Security is a complicated issue. We don’t have to explain to you how badly things can go wrong if it isn’t given enough attention.  
  • You’ll soon have a proliferation of applications. This is called shadow IT: employees develop and use IT resources themselves, without keeping the IT department in the loop. Eventually, no one has an overview anymore and no one knows which application serves what purpose.
Meeting in a coffee shop
Meeting in a coffee shop

citizen development governance model: clear vision for stakeholder buy-in.

To avoid stepping into one of those pitfalls, you should create a citizen development governance model. The ideal governance model doesn’t exist. What works for your company, doesn’t necessarily work for another organization.

What does every governance model have in common? They all need a clear vision. Take your time to write down this vision. The following topics can definitely be included.

goal & strategy.

  • What do you want to achieve with citizen development, and the low-code platforms you will use for it?  
  • Starting small pays off. In which departments will you deploy citizen development first, and why?

citizen developers.

  • How do you plan to recruit and motivate candidate citizen developers?  
  • How do the citizen developers fit in the structure of your organization?  
  • How much time can the citizen developers spend on the development of applications, next to their ‘regular’ job?

application development.

  • What types of applications do you want to have developed by the citizen developers? And by traditional developers? Is this a black-and-white story, or should you put up an evaluation procedure for it?  
  • Will certain types of applications get priority over others?

follow-up & approval.

  • What development stage requires approval? Who takes on this responsibility?  
  • To what degree will the IT department be involved? When should they simply supervise, and when should they intervene?

Thanks to this vision, you will be able to embed citizen development in your organization. Everyone will be on the same page, and you’ll create a culture that’s open to citizen development. All stakeholders will understand that this is a great opportunity. And that’s a very important condition for this project to succeed. 

What are the next steps? In your citizen development model, you should pay attention to building out a community, picking the right platforms, setting up a training model, make arrangements regarding security and so on.