A citizen developer workforce could solve your tech talent gaps

Skills shortage, what skills shortage? It’s highly likely that your next software developer is already employed amongst your ranks.

They might be your business analyst, or administrator, or anyone else you might not have expected.

What characterizes them, however, is that they are people who have computing skills and are eager to learn new things.

In fact they’re just the sort of people able to develop into what’s increasingly being called “citizen developers”.

Creating a citizen developer workforce

Citizen development is when non-technical employees are trained to create and run automation.

Businesses are turning to this strategy to save on the costs of recruiting and hiring developers, who are hard to find in this tight labor market.

It’s a growing trend with revenue from the global low-code development platform market expected to reach more than $190 billion by 2030.

The idea seems simple: train workers without coding experience to develop business process automation using no-code tools. They utilize business application platforms to fill digital transformation needs – manipulate data, develop reports, and automate workflows and business processes.

But there are challenges businesses need to consider before implementing this approach.

Citizen developers have to split their time between development and other tasks, which makes growth slow and haphazard. Imagine if you asked a full-time employee to also work on business process automation. How much effort do you think they’re going to be able to devote to this? Learning a new skill takes time and patience. If these people are also faced with competing deadlines and other work pressures, they’re not always going to take the time to think about how they can build business process automation to make tasks easier or more productive.

Also, how much direction would you need to give? When would these people learn best practices? How would they handle proper governance or security concerns? Now imagine this scenario at scale. If there were eights employees, what would be more efficient: training all eight and having them each do citizen development unsupported for one hour a day, or preparing one of them to do development full time? Which would be more secure: eight employees with access to a system they aren’t familiar with, or one who knows it well enough to be compliant? The same no-code, easy-to-use tools can be used to much more significant effect by training and supporting full-time developers.

Promoting from within

Most businesses have many employees, known as business technologies, using tech or analytics skills in their roles outside the IT team. Business technologists working as full-time developers work faster and see the business side – one of the proclaimed benefits of citizen development. These workers can be found across departments.

According to Gartner’s research, 41% of employees can be considered business technologists (this varies across industries, for example, in government, the figure is about 25%, and in energy, it’s about 50%).

This means businesses already have ample untapped developer resources waiting to be utilized. And the research firm predicts that 70% of new applications developed by enterprises will use no-code technologies.

Training is critical to success

It’s clear organizations need a no-code platform to train business technologists with developer capabilities. The training program needs to be able to accommodate those without tech-specific experience and provide a simple, easy-to-learn system.

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Opening automation to more employees is a way to crowdsource ideas. Demonstrations can facilitate better cross-team functioning and allow all employees to participate in their organization’s digital transformation journey.

With this approach, employees close to the business side of operations can offer ideas and valuable insight to those on teams dedicated to full-time development. Similarly, former business users on the development team are more likely to create optimal intelligent automation solutions due to their experiences in business operations outside of IT.

The development team will, of course, need guidance and direction to do this successfully at scale. A Center Of Excellence (COE) plays a critical role: establishing best practices, outlining training, ensuring security and compliance, and offering workshops, mentorship and support. Think of the COE as a governing board. This team will involve IT and will set a plan for how to best provide automation to the business.

Citizen developers – the benefits

One output that citizen development creates is more time. With less traffic through IT, the professionals can work on complex projects. So, a good model for citizen development = COE + IT + citizen developers.

The speed and ease of no-code also means businesses realize the productivity gains and competitive advantages of digital transformation faster. Employees across the board also gain job satisfaction, as all benefit from the support digital workers provide. In addition, those who have moved into development roles enjoy a new career trajectory filled with growth opportunities.

An internal, no-code-based approach to automation also lowers the cost and time required to produce results. The more processes an organization automates, the more significant the productivity and revenue gains.

You know it makes sense

With a looming global recession, businesses are increasingly in need of the agility and efficiency that digital transformation offers. But this requires software development, which requires developers, who are in short supply.

Citizen developers who are equipped with the knowledge, tools and resources needed, can embark on driving home digital transformation – creating intelligent automation solutions for their business.

An extra thought…

Why not try…. A ‘hackathon’

What’s that? A hackathon is a competition where developers and designers collaborate on a specific project. The participants must work within a set number of hours, not stopping until the end of the allotted time or the completion of the project.

How do they help find talent? Hackathons are cost-effective ways to scout talents because they allow employers to test candidates without making a long-term commitment or investment in them. Another significant benefit of hackathons is meeting top talent in your industry. If you are hosting or attending a hackathon, it allows you to reach out to developers and other tech professionals who may want to join your team or work on projects with you on an as-needed basis.

What other benefits are there? Hackathons also help promote innovation by allowing participants to learn about new tools and technologies. Many hackathons provide some framework for the participants to build their projects, which can widen their knowledge and experience in emerging tech.

What else? Professionals who participate in these hackathons want to make things happen for the team they represent. They actively explore all possibilities instead of just sitting back and waiting for an idea to come to them. This sense of urgency creates an environment where people feel empowered and motivated to take action on their ideas rather than waiting for someone else to tell them what to do or how to do it.

Hackathon advice contributed by: Manila Recruitment

 

 

 

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