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Will Microsoft Power Apps Citizen Developers Create Shadow IT?

Author: Richard Schulz | | February 17, 2022


 

Create a Power Apps Circle of Excellence (COE) to provide guidance and structure for your employees.

 
Yes, Microsoft Power Apps citizen developers could end up creating Shadow IT. That’s why the relationship between citizen developers and your IT team is so important. You need to encourage your citizen developers because they can help your business become more agile and flexible by creating business-level applications that your IT team may not have the time or resources to address.

However, it’s critical that you avoid the creation of Shadow IT that can cause confusion, duplicate effort, application incompatibility, and more. There are steps you can take to avoid that situation.

For more information about Power Apps and the concept of citizen developers, refer to our blog post, How Business and IT Teams Can Better Work Together – Power Apps Can Help.

How Do Microsoft Power Apps and Citizen Developers Relate to Shadow IT?

Shadow IT refers to technology, software, or tech services that aren’t owned or controlled by your central IT department. As a result, citizen developers can create business solutions where your IT department can’t manage those applications. Furthermore, in the case of citizen developers, IT isn’t in the position to provide effective support for the developers or users of those applications.

If there isn’t a strong relationship between your IT team and your citizen developers, the problem of Shadow IT is likely to occur. Once citizen developers see the power of low-code platforms like Microsoft Power Apps, it’s easy for them to get enthusiastic about building apps that will save them time and frustration. And, you do want that to happen, but not in a vacuum.

Without any coordination of efforts, citizen developers in different departments could start building an application that spans across departments. If they try to bring those applications together, the odds are very good that they won’t be compatible. If they don’t know others are working on different parts of the same global workflow, their efforts will likely be duplicated.

Line employees have traditionally been guilty of acquiring third-party applications that are Shadow IT, and now those same employees, as citizen developers, have the opportunity to create their own. It’s a situation you want to avoid, and there are ways to prevent it. One of the most effective is to establish a Center of Excellence (COE).

Create a Citizen Development Center of Excellence (COE)

Since you want to encourage citizen developers, you need to provide them with a structure within which to work. The concept of a COE was created in the lean manufacturing arena. It refers to a team of employees that provide expertise and best practices concerning a specific area of interest.

What Does a Center of Excellence for Citizen Developers Look Like?

The Center needs to be the heart of the citizen developer initiative. It should include:

  1. People. Members from IT, training and education, and citizen developer ranks.
  2. Technology. A platform, like Power Apps, and associated methods for administration, setting standards, developing best practices, creating and enforcing guardrails, and managing licenses.
  3. Training and Mentoring. You’ll choose your citizen developers based on their capabilities, but they will still need training to be effective at using platforms like Power Apps.
  4. Process. A process for approving ideas, controlling the pipeline, assisting citizen developers, reviewing the final code, and monitoring deployment and usage.
  5. Analytics. Gather metrics regarding return on investment, usage, successes, and failures.

 
As you can see, the IT department needs to be very involved in setting up this type of Center of Excellence. IT will need to:

  • Choose the platform
  • Provide the resources to manage the platform along with associated best practices
  • Help the training and education department to create training on the platform
  • Help to create the process for submitting and approving ideas
  • Review ideas and contribute to the approval/denial
  • Provide resources to support the citizen developers and help them when applications need to be extended with additional coding
  • Reviewing the final code and monitoring the usage
  • Gathering metrics and reporting on progress

 
Keep in mind that while IT is providing resources, the citizen developers will help to reduce the IT backlog. Therefore, participating in the COE will benefit the IT department in the long run by reducing their workload and allowing them to avoid the chaos that can occur if citizen developers have no guidelines.

The business that promotes citizen developers will also benefit from their work. Every business is feeling the effects of the shortage of tech talent. Citizen developers can help to ease staffing challenges and increase innovation and productivity, making the organization more competitive.

Datavail is prepared to assist you in all aspects of setting up and operating a Citizen Developer COE. We can provide fractional or full-time resources to:

  • Complete plans for a COE
  • Conduct ongoing system monitoring
  • Provide support for citizen developers
  • And, more

 
For more information, download our white paper, “Using Microsoft Power Apps to Empower Your Business.” Or, contact our Microsoft Power Apps and AppDev experts today to discuss your ideas and requirements.

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