Who are your ServiceNow Citizen Developers and how to make them successful?

8 minutes
Who are your ServiceNow Citizen Developers and how to make them successful?

What is a ServiceNow Citizen Developer?

A ServiceNow Citizen Developer is a digitally-skilled employee with little to no coding experience who creates business applications/workflows on the ServiceNow low-/no-code platform using App Engine Studio.

With drag-and-drop options and pre-built blocks, 62% of citizen developers can develop an app in less than two weeks, 27% can do it 2-4 weeks, and 13% take more than a month.

Download whitepaper: How to get from idea to business app in 10 days

Benefits of ServiceNow Citizen Developers

One of the biggest benefits of citizen-built apps is that they help accelerate digital transformation (more builders and less code).

With COVID-19 pushing digital transformation at breakneck speed, there isn’t an IT department that’s not being swamped. According to Forbes, app demand is up 60% from last year.

This surge in demand from the business, in combination with limited IT budgets and high (often unrealistic) expectations, have made IT a bottleneck. Their backlogs are daunting, app delivery is slow and delivered apps don’t always meet expectations. To top it off: due to a global pro-code developer shortage, scaling up has become a real challenge.

Within a set framework of compliance and governance (using the ServiceNow Toolbox and Building Blocks) citizen-built apps can move into production fast: within minutes instead of weeks. And because they are developed by the people in the know of the business—your business owners—the apps are more in line with business needs.

How to find your ServiceNow Citizen Developers

Typically, ServiceNow citizen developers have no coding experience. But, by using your business owners to build their own apps—with IT-approved technology and processes—you will be tapping into a rich source of business know-how. This will result in better applications that are more aligned with your organization’s intended needs.

Basically, citizens match any one of the following 4 personas:

Four citizen developer personas

Bringing Citizen Development in practice

OK, so you’ve appointed your ServiceNow citizen developers, provided them the toolbox and building blocks (App Engine Studio), and then what…?

You will need to enable, equip and support them. They need tooling and resources that are in line with their respective skills and experience levels. And they need a safe and shared environment in which core competencies can be built.

Our 5-step approach to set up a Citizen Development program

Based on best practices acquired during supporting our clients to ensure citizen developer success, these 5 steps will help you successfully build your own ServiceNow Citizen Development program:

5-step approach to set up a Citizen Development program

1.Inspire – Identify opportunities

Start by identifying opportunities for citizen development. There are different ways of uncovering these opportunities.

One approach is to find an important process in one of your lines of business that is currently managed in an old and broken process of email and spreadsheets or perhaps running on a legacy app.

Another approach is reviewing your IT backlog and assessing which items on there would qualify for Citizen Development. Even ideas that were previously dismissed, might qualify in the light of Citizen Development.

An inspiration session can help to get you going and define plausible app options. Request one here.


2. Envision – Build a prototype

The proof of the pudding is in eating it. By taking one of the ideas and building a prototype using App Engine Studio together with your citizen developers, you can demonstrate the feasibility of Citizen Development on ServiceNow. It demonstrates how quickly you can go from idea to prototype to minimum viable product.

The clear and distinct steps and usable apps are sure to generate instant interest and enthusiasm. Be sure to stick to the basics at this point though and clearly define purpose, priority and required complexity of any app that you have in mind.

Knowing (more or less) what you want to build, makes it easier to define what technology, governance, training and more things you need to have in place to get started.


3. Train Enable your ServiceNow citizen developers

Your citizen developers bring with them a varying level of skills. They have access to a large range of productivity tools which focus on configuration, rather than on coding.

The ServiceNow Sandbox (Personal Dev Instance) is the ideal place for them to get stuck in and start building. After all, the plug-and-play toolbox calls for a ‘Just do it’ mindset.

But, inevitably on-the-job and classroom training are the way to go to familiarize your citizens with an integrated low- and pro-code development environment and to   enable all builders to work together seamlessly. And, above all, to enable them to make apps that help improve digital processes and boost productivity.


4. Support the change with a Center for Enablement

The benefit of having citizen developers spread out across your organization could be a potential drawback if competencies and expertise are not shared.

To help and support your citizens–and ensure they meet all governance, risk and design from the very outset of developing any app–we always recommend establishing a Center of Enablement.

Such a Center for Enablement should provide different services to enable, maintain and ensure highest quality, robust solutions. Citizen developers must be able to count on quick answers and solutions to any obstacles or hiccups with which they will–inevitably–be confronted.

The ultimate goal of a Center for Enablement is to support citizen developers in creating the greatest value for your organization, by providing best practices, tools, and re-usable components or integrations in line with your business practices.


4. Scale while safeguarding quality and compliance

While your Center for Enablement stays focused on enablement, you can work on turning your business processes into powerful digital workflows that connect any systems, apps, and data. In doing so, you can achieve complete visibility into end-to-end processes.

All artifacts are reusable – leading to more productivity when you scale. With Plat4Mation’s building block factory, you can build re-usable components to be deployed by citizen developers, where standard ServiceNow components do not fit the bill.

This will enable you to empower line-of-business creators to build enterprise-grade apps, while fully safeguarding app quality and platform stability.

Need help setting up Citizen Development?

ServiceNow low-code and no-code brings a no-hassle solution to getting faster value out of your ServiceNow platform through Citizen Development. But, to make your organization ready for–and benefit the fullest from–Citizen Development, build on our 1000+ best practices and the value-adding insights that we bring you as ServiceNow Global App Development Platform Partner of the Year 2021.

If you would like to know more, let’s talk!

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Guus Hutschemaekers

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Guus Hutschemaekers
Innovation & New Proposition Development Consultant
+31 (0)30 76 02 670

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