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The Importance of Citizen Development in Digital Transformation Projects

Discover how citizen development and collaboration are the keys to unlocking digital transformation success in your organization.

Suppose you’ve ever worked on a digital transformation (DX) project. In that case, you know it requires a collective effort of cross-collaboration across teams and departments in an organization. Furthermore, if you’ve read my blog before, I think communication is crucial in ensuring success in any project, especially regarding DX. After all, digital transformation efforts are a bit different when it comes to planning, and citizen development can help bridge that gap.

citizen development is all about teamwork
GIF via GIPHY

With that, this post will not only delve into the importance of collaboration in DX projects. We’ll take it further and add some benefits of bringing in citizen developers.

How Citizen Development Helps DX

From breaking down silos and promoting cross-functional collaboration to harnessing collective intelligence and accelerating decision-making, that’s only the tip of the iceberg regarding citizen development. Before all that, it is essential to realize that a lot of hard work is needed to make a citizen development project successful in any organization. Plus, all of that effort will take time. Nonetheless, the goal here is to maximize the outcomes of DX and drive meaningful change across the organization.

In the following three paragraphs, I’ll define citizen development, citizen developer practitioners, and citizen development business architects to help ensure we’re on the same page.

So, What is Citizen Development?

Citizen developers after building apps with no-code! ????????????
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  • Citizen development (CD) refers to a business process that allows non-technical employees (or employees not technically trained in IT or software development) to create software applications or tools using low-code or no-code (LCNC) platforms. In other words, it’s an organizational blueprint establishing a program to enable specific employees or “citizens” with little coding experience to build applications. CD’s goal: improve business processes and increase productivity. It can also be cost-effective and efficient to address specific business needs without relying on backlogged IT departments or external developers.

Citizen Developer Practioner (CD-P)

  • A citizen developer practitioner (CD-P or CD-MC) creates software applications or tools without formal programming or computer science training. To do that, they use LCNC platforms to build and customize solutions that meet specific project requirements. Citizen developers can be anyone from business analysts or salespeople to HR professionals. In general, they need to deeply understand their organization’s unique challenges and opportunities with a strong desire to build solutions to become a CD-P.

Citizen Developer Business Architect (CDBA)

  • A citizen developer business architect (CDBA) is a person who works with citizen developers, leaders, and vendors to help design and plan software or technical projects. They’re also the ones who implement entire citizen development programs in companies. To do that, they must understand business processes, LCNC platforms, use cases, and CD frameworks well. All of that can help them translate project needs into technical requirements.

Now that the definitions are out of the way, I want to clarify something.

CD doesn’t mean that IT is left out of the loop. They still help plan DX projects and participate in integrations, audits, etc. Furthermore, citizen development is complementary to an IT department. Although CD doesn’t necessarily exist within an IT department because they have different functions, they work best in conjunction to bridge communication gaps between IT and business units more effectively.


If you have questions, contact me. I’m a certified Citizen Developer – Practitioner (CD-P) and Citizen Developer Business Architect (CDBA) focused on projects that use tech for good. I also wrote an article about my citizen developer journey.


Overall, citizen development can foster innovation, increase efficiency, and drive digital transformation by empowering non-technical employees to create solutions.

Next, we’ll dive into how else CD can help.

CD Breaks Down Silos and Promotes Cross-Functional Collaboration

Citizen development helps to break down silos
GIF via GIPHY

DX projects often involve multiple teams (including digital teams) and departments working towards a common goal. Citizen development helps by breaking down communication silos and promoting cross-functional collaboration. Why does that matter? It’s crucial to ensure a holistic and integrated approach. Moreover, by encouraging collaboration across different areas of expertise, orgs can leverage diverse perspectives, foster creativity, and drive innovation.

It Leverages Collective Intelligence

We know by now that collaboration allows organizations to tap into collective intelligence. Then, imagine if we combine that with individuals from various backgrounds and varying roles but instead roadblock their interactions through complicated information silos? (Pssst, that’s what many companies do because of bureaucracy, hierarchies, and more). However, by fostering a collaborative environment through CD, orgs can harness the collective intelligence of their teams, leading to more informed decision-making, better problem-solving, and innovative solutions.

Citizen Development Accelerates Decision-making and Execution

Collaboration enables faster decision-making and execution in digital transformation projects. By involving all relevant stakeholders early on and fostering collaborative discussions, organizations can gather insights, identify potential roadblocks, and make informed decisions more efficiently. Collaborative project management tools and methodologies, such as Agile and Scrum, promote iterative and collaborative approaches, allowing quicker implementation and adaptation.

It Encourages Innovation and Creativity

Citizen development makes ideas happen
GIF via GIPHY

Collaboration sparks innovation and creativity in digital transformation projects. When individuals from different disciplines collaborate, they bring diverse perspectives, ideas, and approaches. This diversity fosters out-of-the-box thinking and opens up new possibilities. CD helps organizations develop digital innovation solutions through collaborative brainstorming and cross-functional project teams.

CD Can Help Enhance Communication and Knowledge Sharing

Communication isn’t a one-way street. The same thing goes for knowledge sharing. Effective collaboration platforms and tools facilitate real-time communication between shareholders and project teams. They also help with document sharing and feedback exchange. Citizen development programs provide a centralized hub (between leaders, the business, and IT) for optimized collaboration, information access, and knowledge sharing.

It Helps to Foster and Build a Sense of Ownership and Alignment

Collaboration builds a sense of ownership and alignment among project teams. When individuals work together towards a shared goal, they develop an understanding of accountability and responsibility. Collaborative decision-making ensures that all voices get heard, enhancing team engagement and commitment to project success. This sense of ownership and alignment fosters a positive and cohesive project culture.

CD Helps Manage Change and Mitigate Resistance

GIF via GIPHY

Collaboration aids in managing change and mitigating resistance within digital transformation projects. Employee involvement and contributions increase support for change and adoption of new practices. Organizations can utilize collaborative methods such as change management workshops and cross-functional change teams to capitalize on citizen development programs fully. These approaches can help to encourage stakeholder buy-in and collect feedback, efficiently addressing any resistance.

The Takeaway: Citizen Development is versatile and powerful and fixes roadblocks

Collaboration drives successful digital transformation projects. Citizen development programs can boost DX efforts by promoting collaboration, innovation, quick decision-making, collective intelligence, communication, ownership, and successful change management.

CD encourages collaboration, uses tools, and promotes a collective mindset for businesses to succeed in digital transformation. By prioritizing collaboration, organizations can create an environment that fosters teamwork, amplifies creativity, and accelerates realizing their digital transformation goals.

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