Monday, June 24, 2024

5 Myths on Citizen Development Debunked

79% of companies build at least one application a year with citizen developers. The rise of no-code/low-code platforms has democratized app development, empowering non-IT professionals without formal coding knowledge to build unique enterprise applications. Business users also maximize business efficiency, accelerating digital transformation.

Citizen development is an effective way to address the growing shortage of developers and boost competitiveness, collaboration, and innovation. It gives users access to an IT-approved workflow tool and helps organizations meet the ever-growing demand for enterprise apps. It also frees up IT developers to focus on more complex, mission-critical projects.

Businesses with empowered citizen developers are 33% more innovative than those without. Unfortunately, because of the myths surrounding it, many people are still wary of citizen development and are yet to take full advantage of it.

Here we explore 5 myths about citizen development and why they shouldn’t matter.

Introduction to citizen development

Citizen development is an approach to app development that enables users with little to no programming expertise to build and manage enterprise applications for themselves or others. The best citizen development programs combine business professionals’ deep data and process knowledge with IT’s compliance and security expertise.

Citizen developers are non-IT employees and subject-matter experts with problem-solving skills. They operate on runtime environments sanctioned by IT and create apps for a fraction of the cost and time. They use no-code/low-code tools and have the insight and motivation to improve business processes.

Citizen development trends, and adoption across organizations

  • 60% of all custom apps are from outside IT, with 30% of those created by professionals with minimal technical development skills
  • By 2024, professionals outside of IT will build 80% of technology products and services.
  • 41% of businesses have active citizen development initiatives, while 20% plan on having one.
  • By 2023, at large enterprises, there’ll be four times more active citizen developers compared to professional developers.
  • In companies implementing automation, there was a 47% increase in citizen developer programs over two years.
  • Non-IT users in business operations roles built 23% of IT automation.
  • 80% of businesses believe citizen developers have freed up their IT personnel to work on higher-level projects

5 citizen development myths and their actual truths

Myth 1: Citizen developers are a hindrance to tech teams

There’s a rising demand for digitization and business apps that current IT teams cannot handle. Citizen developers are professionals in key business units, and most are knowledgeable about distinct business needs, so they can develop unique applications.

No-code/low-code tools with prebuilt templates and automated testing help citizen developers create apps with little IT oversight, relieving burned-out IT teams. They free up time and energy for overburdened tech personnel to focus on areas of expertise and more urgent, complex, digital transformation initiatives.

Low-code/no-code platforms have a low barrier to entry and naturally require little user experience or training. Since IT departments have established IT infrastructure, citizen developer apps will build on it, following best development and governance practices.

Myth 2: It’s a gateway to shadow IT

Citizen development can minimize the risks associated with shadow IT. Providing app development guidelines and resources aligned with IT best practices helps citizen developers use their skills and opportunities to create the applications they need.

When IT teams and business users collaborate, IT can establish strong governance structures for citizen development programs. They can oversee and maintain control over all applications citizen developers build, reducing security and compliance risks, and increasing consistency and standardization.

Using no-code/low-code tools increases visibility, provides transparency, and eliminates technical complexity, reducing shadow IT. Introducing badges and certifications for citizen developers promotes quality by celebrating app design and development accomplishments.

Myth 3: Citizen developers only create simple, unimportant applications

Typically, citizen developers create apps for a specific business purpose, such as automating routine processes, bridging gaps between systems, or improving team productivity. Low code offers a unified environment for them to create and quickly deliver consistent and targeted solutions.

No-code/low-code tools provide a visual development graphical user interface with drag-and-drop elements and predesigned templates to help citizen developers create both simple and sophisticated applications, depending on business needs.

Providing training on how to become a citizen developer helps them collaborate with IT and offers the skills they need to handle more advanced projects. High-performance low-code empowers non-IT employees to improve existing processes, maximize productivity, streamline communication and build strategic applications.

Myth 4: Citizen developers will replace the tech team

Citizen development programs are not a competition between IT and business users. Centralized no-code/low-code platforms position both teams in co-creator roles, enabling them to collaborate more strategically and efficiently. No-code/low-code tools lower the company’s dependency on IT personnel and lessen the IT backlog.

In fact, citizen development programs work best when the tech team maintains oversight. They enable business users to manage and improve their day-to-day processes at their pace. IT teams have total access, and they can give role-based permissions to everyone else in the organization.

Citizen developers cannot replace specialized, highly trained developers. They lack the expertise to build large-scope apps requiring complex security and data requirements with standard programming languages.

Myth 5: Citizen development carries increased security risks

With rising security breaches causing severe outcomes, it’s become more urgent for organizations to address looming security issues in development environments. To manage this, most platforms now have built-in security features with permission-based user control, file monitoring, and code validation.

Compliance credentials, certificates, and capabilities such as ISO 27001, LGPD, 2FA, GDPR

SOC2 and in-platform data encryption also minimize the security risks. IT departments can also vet no-code/low-code tools, ensuring they adhere to company security policies. They can establish strict IT approval processes and standard enterprise security practices before launching apps.


The many benefits of citizen developers far outweigh the risks. You’ll build and deploy enterprise-grade apps faster, maximize resources, increase your pool of developers, and accelerate transformation without outsourcing app development or hiring specialized developers.

Don’t let these myths stop you from maintaining your competitive advantage! No-code/low-code systems will help you leverage the latest technology stack, and save money and time building apps that adapt to your business demands.

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