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Citizen Development and the Consumerization of Information Technology

Citizen development is one of the most exciting evolutions in corporate IT in recent years. Citizen developers are regular end-users who utilize low-code platforms (or citizen development software) which empower them to create or customize applications which they and their colleagues can use, without the input of central IT.

Back in 2009, analyst Gartner predicted the “Rise of the Citizen Developer”, coining the term and stating that by 2014, 25% of new business applications would be built by citizen developers. Global enterprise application software revenue is expected to top $200bn by 2019. With so many applications being built, businesses—and IT teams in particular—are finding it hard to keep up with the pace.

Many IT teams are no doubt feeling the pressure, with the organization requiring more applications to be built, maintained and upgraded. Citizen development can alleviate some of this pressure. In areas like software development and workflow automation in particular, citizen development software can enable any user to build applications or improve the efficiency of their business processes. It’s ultimately about putting more responsibility (and more technological capability) in the hands of workers, freeing up time for developers and IT teams who would have previously had to do all major and minor software development tasks.

Let’s explore the benefits of citizen development and some of the best examples of citizen development software around today.

What Can You Do with Citizen Development Software?

When it comes to application development, citizen developers may not be able to perform all the tasks involved in developing a fully-fledged app, but can work together with the business’s IT team if additional code is required. For the automation of business processes, low-code, citizen development platforms can remove the manual aspect of otherwise menial and tiresome manual processes. So, workers can free up more time for themselves, and doing so requires less effort on their part.

A 2015 report found that 76% of respondents cited improved operational efficiency as the main reason their organization uses low-code citizen development platforms. Let’s look at some examples of how a citizen developer could improve and expedite some of their manual, labor-intensive business processes.

Document Reviews

Cloud-based platforms have changed the way we communicate and collaborate with one another. In the workplace, that equates to working on documents together, sharing, editing and reviewing work. And workflow automation can make this process quicker and easier.

With workflow automation, citizen developers can:

  • Assign tasks, set reminders and track the progress of documents
  • Maintain and preserve a full document audit trail, including version history
  • Automate document generation
  • Route documents based on metadata, and integrate with e-signature providers

With the automatic creation of necessary documents, notifications to keep the process moving and an audit trail to track all the changes, workers can speed up and hone in on document collaboration.

Vacation Requests

A common pain point for employees is the process of booking time off for vacation – they often need to ask managers and HR verbally, or send an email which gets lost in their manager’s inbox. A citizen developer could use workflow automation to resolve this sort of issue.

Here’s how you might automate the holiday request process:

  • An employee inputs their desired holiday dates into the calendar
  • A notification is sent to their manager, informing them of the request
  • The manager reviews the dates against possible problems (already too few staff at that time, etc.)
  • The manager approves or rejects the request
  • If approved, the holiday dates are automatically confirmed in the calendar, and the employee is notified.

With workflow automation, the employee can find out much quicker if their holiday is approved or not.

Performance Reviews

When it comes to performance reviews, manual processes often lead to long breaks or interruptions between stages of the review process.

Here’s how the performance review process might be automated:

  • HR sets a reminder for when an employee review is due
  • An email is sent to the employee’s manager to arrange a review
  • The self-assessment part of the review is auto-generated and sent to the employee
  • The employee can securely access their form on any device they wish
  • Once completed, they send it back to their manager, and feedback is collated
  • Outlook or calendar integration can auto-schedule meetings for a time that best suits the employee and manager

Workflow automation improves employee satisfaction with quick and clear goal setting and fair performance evaluation. The employee can complete their self-assessment as quickly as possible, knowing that it will be kept secure and confidential, and gets feedback sooner rather than later.

Low-Code and Accessible Workflow Automation

With the Nintex Workflow Platform, you can build your workflows in a visual drag-and-drop designer and publish dynamic forms without a single line of code. Additionally, with Nintex Analytics, users benefit from workflow analytics to analyze and optimize business processes. As citizen development software, Nintex helps everyone benefit from the improved efficiency of automated workflows, digital forms and process intelligence.


For more information on citizen development and the software facilitating it, get in touch with Nintex today. If you want to see any aspect of the Nintex platform in action, you can schedule a live demo and we’ll get back to you.

Dan Stoll

Dan Stoll has been working in IT for over two decades and currently serves as director of technical marketing at Nintex, the world’s leader in Intelligent Process Automation (IPA). He has spent the last 13 years of his career helping organizations turn manual processes into well-run automated ones. Originally from Australia, Stoll relocated to the United States in 2015 after working as the first Nintex Technical Evangelist for the company’s APAC and EMEA regions. Follow Dan on Twitter: @_danstoll and LinkedIn: http://linkedin.com/in/stolldan

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