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The Pros and Cons of Citizen Developers

Many companies have made the powerful transition of converting paper-based processes to cloud-based technology.

With many aspects of business now relying on technology, IT departments have their work cut out for them. Even a simple process change can be time-consuming, and this includes creating new business applications.

Simultaneous requests can place a thin IT Department in danger of falling behind. In response, Citizen Developers have risen in popularity.

What is a Citizen Developer?

In the Information Technology (IT) world, a Citizen Developer is a non-IT trained individual who creates new business applications to help improve the productivity of their business.

They have little to no formal education in coding, but take advantage of low/no code platforms, like Quick Base, to build apps that streamline business processes.

Why Have Citizen Developers Become Popular?

Typically, if a company needs a business software solution, they take their request to the IT Department. This department then will purchase an over the counter product or build an app to meet the business’ request. This can take several months, even years.

To build an app, you often need to write code. After creating the app, you must spend adequate time testing the code and the working out of the kinks.

By the time the IT Department completes the application, it may may even be outdated. Time is of the essence in the business world.

To address this issue, some business leaders work in conjunction with IT and become Citizen Developers. Instead of writing out the entire code, they leverage low and no code platforms. They take what other developers have created in a low or no code platform and mold an application into what they want it to do.

This process speeds up app development, allowing IT Departments to focus on more critical issues, and increased overall productivity.

What Challenges Do Citizen Developers Face?

Citizen development on the right platform might sound rather simple. However, it can be more complex than meets the eye. Here are the pros and cons that a Citizen Developer faces when seeking to accomplish a project on their own.

The Pros and Cons of Citizen Development

As with any business endeavor, there will be positive and negative aspects to building applications in-house.

Pros of Citizen Developers:

1. Ease the Burden on the IT Department

All IT Departments are overwhelmed with requests for assistance. They are constantly troubleshooting legacy applications and creating new solutions to help the business run smoothly.

They have little time to create new applications when the old ones are still working, even if something new would help them in the long run. A Citizen Developer can take some of the burden off overstressed IT departments in developing low/no code apps.

2. Little Code Required

Much of the foundational work is already complete with low and no code platforms. The basic outline of code is already written.

A Citizen Developer does not have to learn long strings of code to create an application. They create applications where the developer is the user, usually using a visual drag and drop solution.

3. They Can Customize Their App

Since there is little to no code to learn, you do not have to be a coding wizard to build an app that can help make business processes easier to complete.

Since you are the creator, you can design it to include the benefits you need the most and tailor it to suit your specific needs.

4. Change Your App as Needed

Due to the ability to customize, you are not locked into one method. If your company grows, you can build out your application’s capabilities and make changes as your growth warrants.

5. Increase Productivity

Now that you have an application that functions in a manner that complements your business, your productivity will increase, thus increasing your customer base and sales.

However, with the good, comes the bad. The pros listed are great, but there is still expertise required if you want a successful application solution.

When you try and go it alone, the cons of Citizen Development can make your good intentions disastrous.

Cons of Citizen Developers:

  1. Slower speed of Implementation

While the low/no code process is intended to speed things up, when a Citizen Developer attempts to accomplish this task there is still a learning curve, especially during your first few application development attempts.

Thus, it may take longer to reach a final product that is up to par.

2. Questionable Quality

Without an expert to ensure your app is up to par, the novice may experience not only slow implementation, but the quality of the final product might also suffer.

As with any new venture, there are many blind spots that only an expert will be aware of. Without this expertise guiding the development process, your app may turn out ineffective.

3. “Shadow IT

Another issue to consider is that if the app is being constructed is company approved. Does it meet the standards the company is trying to reflect, and will it be reliable in the long-term?

Trying to create something outside of your IT department can cause many headaches if it is deemed unauthorized by your company.

4. Less Cross-industry Expertise

What works for one industry will not necessarily work for another. An inexperienced developer may model their app off of one from another industry. This can backfire. Creating an app must be customized to how your business is run.

5. Weaker Security

When you have a novice at the helm, they may either be ignorant to the fact that there needs to be a level of security to the apps created, or they may be willing to sacrifice security for functionality.

This can cause legal issues, especially when you deal with sensitive client information and internal company info.

6. Sub-Par User Experience

Just as inexperience can hurt you security-wise, the uneducated developer can leave unintended issues unaddressed. This can make the application burdensome to use for the ones it was designed to help.

A Quick Base Solution Provider Can Solve These Problems

To overcome the pitfalls of Citizen Development, let Quick Base experts take the process of your hands. Quick Base Solution Providers, like Trinity, have all the expertise of custom application development with an efficient implementation schedule and proven success.

Trinity will partner with you to help you build, maintain, and update business applications on Quick Base. This way, your app will be high quality, without sacrificing any of the customizable advantages of citizen development.

Quick Base Solution Providers offer:


Quick Base Solution Providers take the work with you to determine the absolute best way to run your business operations; this is known as business process improvement.  They consider the things that the amateur developer may not realize, thus helping you remain efficient and compliant.

Speed and Efficiency of Implementation

Quick Base Solution Providers know how to produce a quality application in a timely fashion. They can also help with integrating your new solution with current legacy system. Proper training will ensure everyone on your team is on the same page and understands how to use the custom-made application.

Customer Support

There is no guesswork when it comes to how your application is run when you have experienced developers on your side. App maintenance is no longer another burden on the IT Department because your Trinity solution will be well made and maintained.

Trinity is a Quick Base Gold Partner and  2019 Quick Base Solution Provider of the Year. Flexibility and scalability are integral to our solutions, since Trinity understands that growing businesses evolve over time.

For over 21 years, Trinity has worked with clients to improve their efficiency, increase service levels, and upgrade their quality of output.

Scott Burday

Exciting News! Trinity acquires BlueWell Group! Unlock new possibilities.