Industry: Financial ServicesHQ Location: Bendigo, AustraliaEmployees: 7,000+
Ben BoaseService Owner, Workflow & Robotics
Interview Date: July, 2021
Why build a community of citizen developers? What does your program look like today?
B.B: We’d been developing in Appian for several years and opening up to citizen developers seemed like the next logical step. This effort allows people closer to business problems to use Appian to address those problems versus go through us. Today, we have about 12 citizen developers who are active in the community.
Can anyone be a citizen developer? To you, what makes for a ‘good’ citizen developer?
B.B: In our business, the role best aligned with the requirements for successful citizen development is the Technical Business Analyst. These folks might not have deep programming expertise, but they all have excellent analytical capabilities and some degree of technical skills. They are particularly good at problem solving and systems thinking. They know how to find inefficiencies in a process and come up with ways to use automation to make it better.
What types of support are you providing citizen developers? Similarly, what are the parameters or guardrails you’ve put in place?
B.B: The first thing we do with people who want to learn Appian development is get them set up on Appian Community. From there, we point them to the online learning on Appian University: Appian Fundamentals training. We provide them support during their learning process through our CoE. We also provide them with access to a sandbox and a development environment. (Access gets more and more restricted the closer they get to production.) Also, we have an Appian community wiki and Teams channel for Appian development. New citizen developers have the ability to ask others in the community for help. Also, every 2 to 3 weeks, my team will lead an Appian discussion, which will always include our citizen developers. Here we will pick one topic (e.g. new release features) and go deep.
Our major control for citizen-developed applications is our solution assurance process. This includes a health check review, but also validation that good build practices have been followed, like the use of proper naming conventions, table structures, etc. Nothing gets released into production without this review, which my team conducts.
With respect to this program, what has worked well and where have you struggled? What advice would you give to others on their citizen development journey?
B.B: Low code is not no-code. You need to understand how technology works. The people we target don’t necessarily have lots of programming experience, but they often have some computer science. However, technical aptitude is more important than experience. You might be good at Visio or Excel, but that doesn’t mean you’ll be proficient in Appian.
How do you measure the value generated by this program? What measures do you point to to prove success?
B.B: We don’t have formal program success measures. But I would say the biggest indicator of success is the fact that several of the applications built by citizens (or in partnership between IT and citizens) are some of our most heavily used Appian applications. These are not small apps either: they automate meaningfully complex and important processes.
Another indicator of success is that the community is still growing. Most of our newer Citizen Developers came to us because they saw the success of their peers in other business groups in solving problems with Appian and they wanted to do it for themselves.
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