According to a study by Gartner, a renowned IT technology research and advisory company, 25 percent of all business applications released in 2014 will not be created by specialized IT professional but by “citizen developers.” This is the result of the push to contain costs while still boosting productivity.
These are users who are not necessarily IT professional and that, through the use of cloud computing and development platforms, create business applications for public use or for specific enterprises.
The platform of choice to create new applications is often Microsoft SharePoint. Users first use monitoring tools to create apps in response to their company’s need to simplify operations and increase efficiency – later they begin to customize the platform itself to tailor it to the needs of the business and boost productivity.
Company owners and IT managers might be faced with having to make a choice between restricting the activity of citizen developers to preserve SharePoint performance or, on the contrary, empowering them.
There are several reasons that should steer business owners towards allowing SharePoint customization by citizen developers – in fact, the following are some motives:
First, their use allows enterprises to create their own business solutions. Users know what the enterprise needs and what type of results they would like to obtain. Whether by directly creating the application through the use of MS SharePoint, or by creating the framework and then enlisting the help of a professional developer, the involvement of users is essential to have better results and apps more tailored to the real needs of the company.
Another perk of the use of non-professional developers is the improving of the long-term value of the business solution. By allowing users to customize SharePoint and educating them on ways to enhance it, also means that they will understand the value of detailed documentation and testing prior to implementation. These are good practices that, in normal circumstances, users don’t pay much attention too. This awareness can improve the long-term value of adopting the business solution.
A further important aspect of involving non-professional SharePoint developers is the freeing of valuable time for the company’s IT department that can then devote energy and resources to projects that are more important for the enterprise. As long as citizen developers have boundaries within, they can move so that they cannot harm the general structure of the platform they are customizing. Thus, the IT department can be less involved in the production of apps and can concentrate on the management of the systems. A Microsoft consultant can easily help determining those boundaries and help with their initial setup.
The effect of the interaction between non-professional developers and the IT department is another benefit. The IT group can better understand, from the users, what are the real needs of the company and can be better equipped to respond with apt solutions.
SharePoint adoption in a company can also be eased by the use of citizen developers. In fact, users can become less frustrated with any difficulties and limitations they might find, when they know they are allowed to create their own solutions to overcome problems.
One more reason for enhancing the participation of citizen developers is the fact that SharePoint 2013 makes it easy to locate and install applications for their business from a public SharePoint app store. Thanks to the available public SharePoint app store, users don’t need to install the apps they create directly into the SharePoint server, but they can load them in the cloud or in the data center with less risks for the enterprise in regard to citizen development.
In sum, embracing citizen development through SharePoint offers benefits to improve efficiency and productivity in ways they can customize so they can become citizen developers and be allowed to meet their needs that is both cautious and intelligent. It also enables them to be guided and limited in a careful way, so that productivity is not harmed rather than enhanced.
The assistance of a SharePoint consultant can help with implementing, in an rational way, the work of these non-professional developers; this can benefit a business to reach great results while still being able to contain costs and not overburden IT departments.