Cultivating Competitive Advantage with Early Adoption of Citizen Development

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Upendra Dharmadhikary, Vice President and Business Head Consulting of Tech Mahindra, a multinational technology company, speaks to the emerging movement of citizen development and why his organization chose to be the first adopter of PMI Citizen Developer™.

The democratization of software development is here. With the advancement of low-code/no-code platforms, business users can now build applications without waiting for the IT department to help. But turning business users with no prior tech skills into “citizen developers” requires the right governance structures to ensure it is done safely and securely, while allowing freedom for scalability within boundaries.

But what does it mean to be a citizen developer? Do you have to be able to create business applications? Do you have to know how to code? Do you need to be technically savvy? The simple answer is no.

Citizen development has the power and potential to reduce the costs of delivering value to customers and can even add value to businesses in terms of growth. But in order for successful implementation, there are some guardrails that need to be in place.

How to Successfully Implement a Citizen Development Framework

As a business leader at Tech Mahindra, a multinational technology company, I have the ability to bring together data available both internally and externally to my organization to equip our employees with the business logic necessary to determine how to solve a problem and achieve the desired output. By knowing the business logic, these employees can then chart out a workflow process, add some screens to it, and deploy the solution with the click of a button to scale across verticals.

Although my description of citizen development sounds simple enough in theory, as part of an enterprise, business users need to make a case for the potential value it will bring to the business before launching a proposed solution. And for the solutions to prove successful within the enterprise, there also need to be guardrails in place, such as:

Establishing a secure and safe governance structure. As part of an organization, it is important to have a singular, structured framework that adheres to guidelines from the IT department and also incorporates best practices that are uniformly available to all business users across the organization. Having standards in place allows business users to be IT governance and security compliant right from the start. Nevertheless, the governance structure should not restrict innovation, but rather serve as a guide to use citizen development safely and securely. It is imperative to protect the company from threats such as software breaches or hackers.

Allowing innovation and scalability. Once a structure is established, it’s important to grant the ability to create business applications to the business users. By ensuring that business users feel empowered to use the low-code, no-code applications that are available to them, organizations are allowing for mobilization and scalability across all departments.

Relying on industry experts for support. To really scale, there are many dimensions to consider. That is why at Tech Mahindra, we rely on top industry leaders such as PMI for resources on best practices, tools and methodologies for incorporating citizen development in a compliant manner.

Why PMI Citizen Developer™?

Project Management Institute (PMI), the world’s leading not-for-profit association for the project management profession, has been a champion of the emerging movement of citizen development. PMI offers individuals and organizations a full suite of platform-agnostic trainings and certifications that provide the ability to securely develop, deploy and manage applications and solutions in existing enterprise IT environments. And we believe that PMI Citizen Developer™ will speed adoption, increase productivity, lower costs and empower project managers to continue playing a critical role in the transformation of our enterprise.

We at Tech Mahindra decided to leverage PMI’s e-learning and certifications to ensure our staff has the tools necessary to join the citizen development revolution. With our commitment to upskill our employees, we became one of the earliest adopters of PMI Citizen Developer™. We will have 1,000 business users completing PMI’s Foundation course and this is just the beginning! Our staff will then pursue PMI Citizen Developer™ certifications based on their individual roles.

What PMI has done is quite innovative. Several customers in PMI’s network, the leaders of diverse companies, are coming together and ideating to bring new ideas and frameworks to life. As a business leader, I could try to create my own framework, but given the rapidly-evolving environment, the value of working with PMI is evident.

How Citizen Developers are Changing the World

The lack of digital skills and software developers in many countries and companies is preventing speedy and agile digital transformation. But by unleashing the power of citizen developers in every company, organizations are allowing change-makers to emerge.

Citizen development allows for vertical and horizontal creation and integration of innovation, which is led by change-makers at organizations. A change-maker’s job is not only to identify and filter ideas, but to also innovate and experiment. They can transform organizations by seizing that power and using citizen development to create applications at speed, which in turn digitizes the company rapidly. This immense power will change not only businesses and their customers, but rather entire ecosystems.

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