Why Citizen Development Fails (and Why You Don't Have to)


Sometimes things don't work out. When that something is your AD&D (application development and delivery) strategy, it's serious business. A criticism of citizen development from IT professionals is often that the risks of involving non-IT pros in AD&D have the potential to cause way more harm than good.

Of course, there are plenty of examples of organizations who have attempted to move forward with citizen development but run into critical roadblocks. Here are 5 of the most common causes for citizen development to fail:

1. No buy-inIf a citizen developer builds an app in the forest, does anyone hear it fall? Wrong metaphor. But there’s a similar use-it-or-lose-it philosophy here: if everyone else is reluctant to adopt a new solution (because they’re already too caught up in another one, or because they don’t trust it or see the need), it’s just not going to take off.

2. Lack of centralization. A lack of centralization in terms of strategy, citizen developer activity, record of applications, and data is partially responsible for aforementioned lack of buy-in. When citizen developer activity isn't aligned with other IT efforts (in some cases, because it's not even on the radar of IT at all), you will get a mess of applications that are unmonitored and unsupported.  

3. Poor security. Lack of centralization also leads to lack of security. If there are no compliance standards in place and no one is monitoring the applications, you open yourself up to vulnerabilities.

4. Low-quality applications. If citizen developers don't have the right tools or resources, chances are low that they'll be able to produce applications that stack up to professional development standards. Without support, applications are likely to have performance issues and bugs.

5. No maintenance standards. Stemming from low quality applications and lack of centralization, many citizen developers don't have the technical knowledge needed to keep up maintenance on the applications they build. The applications may grow too complex or run into too many technical problems that citizen developers aren't yet equipped to address. When the continuous support that these applications require falls through the cracks, it's a major threat to their success.


The good news is that all of these causes for citizen development failure can be avoided. Is citizen development inherently open to security threats and low quality apps? Definitely not. What leads to problems like poor security and inability to maintain citizen developer-built applications is ultimately a lack of support, structure, and tools

A strategy that centralizes governance and outlines structural support and monitoring can bypass each of these 5 threats. Want to read how? Check out our eGuide.

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