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How Business and IT Teams Can Better Work Together – Power Apps Can Help

Author: Richard Schulz | 7 min read | February 15, 2022


The advent of no-code and low-code platforms like Power Apps is creating a group of non-IT developers typically called citizen developers. Citizen developers are employees who work in various lines of business. They’re not system developers, but they are interested in technology, and they take the initiative to use new tools to write their own applications.

When citizen developers and IT work together, the applications they produce is a welcome sight for the IT department. Those applications can go a long way toward relieving the pressure on the IT backlog, which is typically present in every IT department.

In addition, the applications also provide benefits to the business because they can improve productivity, enhance agility, clarify decision-making, save money, and more. Many businesses are working to create programs to increase the number of citizen developers in their organization.

Where to Find Citizen Developers

The odds are you already have some active or potential citizen developers in your organization. But, low-code development isn’t for everyone. Just because an employee is smart and innovative, and good at problem solving, it doesn’t mean they will necessarily relish creating applications. Here are some ideas on what to look for.

  • Employees who volunteer as testers or to be in the pilot group for large-scale development projects. These employees embrace technology and are interested enough to be the first group to be exposed to new applications and capabilities.
  • Employees who take the initiative to do things like create elaborate Excel spreadsheets. They’re the ones who don’t want to do something manually if they can figure out a way to automate it. They enjoy the challenge and are willing to put up with some frustration until they succeed.
  • Employees who love automated gadgets. They’re the ones who have smart homes. They have smart speakers, put in their own security systems, they can talk to their dogs during the day, lock their doors from the bedroom, and they haven’t operated a vacuum cleaner since they successfully programmed their robot vacuums.
  • Employees who are business process oriented. If an employee has some tech savvy and they understand how the business works, they’re doubly prepared to be a citizen developer. They’re the ones that see the big picture on how the business works. They’ll be able to understand where data is coming from, how it gets there, and who is involved in creating or using it. They know which other departments will be affected if they change something in their department.
  • Employees who have submitted requests to IT for new applications. An employee who has identified an opportunity to automate a business process can be an excellent candidate. You’ll need to determine if they have the aptitude for doing the development themselves, but having identified an opportunity for automation means that they are at least thinking in terms of digital transformation.

If you’re looking for new employees, many of these characteristics apply. You want to find people who have the aptitude to work with automation projects and the attitude that will make them successful.

Why You Need a Citizen Developer Program

It’s not a good idea to turn citizen developers loose on their own. Your IT department needs to be involved in setting up a citizen developer program to ensure that their efforts are organized.

Here are the key factors to address:

Choose a No-Code and/or Low-Code Platform

Left to their own devices, citizen developers may choose different platforms for creating their own applications, which would cause a great deal of confusion and could produce incompatibility issues. The no-code or low-code platform should be chosen in conjunction with the IT department and a standard should be set. For example, if you’re using Microsoft 365, it would make sense to use MS Power Platform (Power Apps & Power Automate) as your low-code platform.

Provide Citizen Developers with Training and Support

You want to ensure that your citizen developers are successful, so you need to provide training and ongoing support. Give your candidates the flexibility to attend training on how to use the platform. You’ll also need to educate them on your internal standards, how those standards affect their development activities, and what they need to do to adhere to the standards.

Create Links with IT Developers

You need to avoid a situation where citizen developers and IT develop an “us versus them” mentality. Citizen developers can be a big asset to the IT team, and the team will be invaluable to the citizen developers to help them achieve success. In fact, in some cases, if an application needs to be extended beyond the capabilities a citizen developer can manage, assistance from the IT team will be an absolute requirement to get things done.

How Datavail Can Help

Datavail can help you get your citizen developers up to speed, provide ongoing development support, and relieve your IT team in terms of ensuring that your apps development environment is continuously monitored.

For more information about Power Apps and citizen developers, and ways Datavail can provide guidance and managed services as well as set up a Power Apps Circle of Excellence (COE), download our white paper, “Using Microsoft Power Apps to Empower Your Business.”

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