When I was the CISO years ago, we had a talented team build the incident management system for our new CIRT. The team built intake forms, interfaces with some of our tools and the workflow to hold it all together. We were fortunate to have the resources of one of the largest companies in the world (at the time), which we used to make our incident response processes faster and more efficient. Thanks to this system, we saved many thousands of hours per year.
That was 15 years ago, and now organizations are automating processes without the need for talented (and expensive) developers. In fact, this year’s moniker is “Year of Low-Code”—the beginning of a new era. Gartner predicts low-code will continue to evolve, stating that by 2025:
- 70% of new applications developed by enterprises will use low-code or no-code technologies (up from less than 25% in 2020) and
- 75% of large enterprises will be using at least four low-code development tools for both IT application development and citizen development initiatives.
As Gartner’s forecast on low-code applications comes to fruition, product and IT leaders collectively have a lot of work to do to not only provide these tools to customers but internally for their teams, as well. As organizations rise to meet the demand for automation to streamline their customers’ and their own processes, it’s important to remember that this is new territory for many.
The absence of a well-established route for migrating to automated processes can create challenges if not done correctly. As organizations look to pioneer low-code, I’d like to offer a two-step guide for leadership to begin this low-code journey through personal insights and real-life examples–providing an “automation blueprint” for IT leaders.
Getting Developers on Board
Although low-code is about bringing capabilities to non-technical resources, don’t neglect the importance of getting your existing developers on board early. Chris Byers wrote this great piece on why developers should not be worried they will become “extinct” by this new outlook. On the contrary, your core developers are going to benefit from these changes–freeing them up from tedious low-value work and allowing them to focus on higher-order challenges.
Change of any sort can be daunting, and as with any shift like this, transparency is key. I often write quick blogs in our project management system or update my developer community in their dedicated collaboration platform channel to update the team on any new processes or changes with complete transparency. My team can ask me questions directly on the platform, and they are usually pretty direct. This visibility is key, allowing everyone to feel like they have a say and stake in how the company is accomplishing shared goals.
It’s instrumental to partner with your DevOps team and ask their advice, as they are your “low-code” experts while you navigate these waters—either creating software with these offerings in your product portfolio for your customer base or deploying tech internally with low-code tools. With the former, your developers really should have no problem getting on board.
Introducing the Concept to Citizen Developers
Next, we must empower people to adopt the role of citizen developer by equipping them with the knowledge they need to be successful. Otherwise, we will find ourselves back at square one with the work developers did to create low-code workflows wasted. Whether you’re working with customers, partners, or your internal teams, here are a few ways to building your citizen developer crew:
• Bring back the lunch-and-learn (hey, they were popular for a reason) via videoconference or collaboration channel: Send out gift cards for participants to order lunch and host a live session to walk through workflows and answer questions.
• Provide on-demand tutorials: Beef up your company’s video library with a couple of “how-to” videos on using workflows for ongoing reference. Everyone loves an excellent how-to explainer.
• Write a guide of your own: One of our technical partners is known for its workflow, and they’ve written a guide to their low-code product’s capabilities. It’s available online, and it’s geared towards citizen developers. So it might be worth taking the time to do one in-house; a one-stop-shop for everything low-code.
Workflows are everywhere you look – not one team in an organization operates without interacting with identity workflows. Take HR, for instance; you might think, “HR deals with people; they don’t need to build workflows.” This overlooks how many HR processes are workflow-driven. Imagine if an organization could tap HR as citizen developers—the department could establish a workflow unique to onboarding, for example. A new hire’s manager receives an automatic prompt to approve access to applications needed for that role. Imagine the time saved, which means more time spent on other business-essential tasks like recruiting quality candidates.
The investment you make today getting buy-in from developers and educating your citizen developers will pay off in the long run. Now is the time to get started. The road of innovation is always bumpy, but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t try to make it as streamlined as possible. To play a role in pushing boundaries forward amidst the digital transformation we are experiencing, you will need everyone—developers and citizen developers—on the same (web)page.