Social, Agile, and Transformation

贵妇也疯狂Top 100 Social CIO - I cover topics for technologists, CIO, CMO, and software developers. Agile, DevOps, Leadership, Business Intelligence, Digital Transformation, Big Data, Startups, Digital Marketing, Social networking, SaaS, content management, media, data science, enterprise 2.0, IoT, business strategy and culture change

Transforming the Workforce with Governed Citizen Development

贵妇也疯狂It’s an unprecedented time to be a CIO or any technologyleader. On the one hand, technology organizations are working hard on digitaltransformation and developing many new customer and employee-facingapplications. On the other, IT is now running double duty by supporting more remoteworking employees and then responding to other COVID-19business needs.

Transforming with Citizen Development

There’s never been greater demand on IT to rapidly delivereasier to use, integrated, reliable, and secure applications. Once delivered,business users expect that IT teams update applications regularly and support them efficiently.


Let’s review IT’s options for fulfilling departmentalapplication needs or responding to opportunities that require rapiddevelopment.

For example, many organizations require newapplications for crisis response, such as managing new types of requests,tracking assets deployed to remote workers, and increasing communications withemployees.

Other times, departments need small applications tosupplement core solutions. For example, manyHR departments develop central portals to link different SaaS tools andpublish HR-related information. Beyond these basics, many want to addspecialized tools for schedulingemployee training, trackingjob candidates, or managingthe talent recruitment process

Business and IT leaders often seek out SaaS and enterprisesolutions to cover the most strategic needs. Individual departments may also pursueSaaS solutions, but there may not be viable options if workflows areproprietary or episodic. There are also additional costs and risks toorganizations evaluating, administering, integrating, and supporting a largenumber of SaaS applications.

The second option is to develop homegrown applications, butthat requires devoting precious IT talent to build, support, and enhance them. Business teams often require a strong rationale to justify developing homegrownapplications with the IT department, and that assumes IT has the staffing,skills, and platforms for delivering homegrown solutions. Many business needsaren’t strategically important enough to warrant an IT investment, and IT maynot have sufficient time to develop apps when responding to crises orfast-moving opportunities.

That leaves an undesirable third option where business teamsare left to fend for themselves. Some may pursue rogue IT solutions, but moreoften, these departments clobber together workflows with manual workarounds andusing a mix of email, spreadsheets, virtual meetings, chat functions, sharedfile systems, and other tools.


Instead of saying no to these business demands, progressiveIT teams are embracingshadow IT, partnering with business leaders on driving workforceenablement, and encouragingcitizen development

Citizendevelopment on a low-codeplatform offers a paradigm shift to how smarter and faster organizationsdevelop and support applications. Instead of IT building and supporting them, ITprovides the tools, practices, and knowledge to individuals in each departmentthat are interested in applying technologies to solve business challenges. Thesecitizen developers are already subject matter experts on their department’sbusiness needs, workflows, and internal lingo. With some technical acumen andbasic training, they can easily translate these business needs into practicalapplications. Citizen developers can also integrate low-code applications and automateworkflows between SaaS platforms such as Slack, MailChimp, SalesForce,Marketo, Workday, and Zuora.  

In fact, citizen developers are often more successfulconverting email and spreadsheet workflows into applications because theyunderstand the working paradigm. It’s a faster and more efficient developmentprocess because the workflow doesn’t need translation into technicalrequirements or require dedicated cloud infrastructure. Additionally, thecitizen developer often has deeper relationships and more clout in theirdepartment and thus are often more successful in gaining end-user adoption ofthe workflows and tools they develop.


CIO and IT leaders fearful of losing technical controls byhanding off some application development and support responsibilities to citizendevelopers should develop governance and support models. Instead of saying noor letting these become shadow IT programs, IT organizations have theopportunity to partner with citizen developers and their business leaders onprograms that deliver efficiencies and innovation.

I’ve been helping establishcitizen development programs for over twenty years, first as a CTO in startups,then as a CIO in enterprises, and now with clients as President of StarCIO. Thebest IT departments have a deeper knowledge of supporting innovation programs,agile development, data governance, information security, and softwaredevelopment lifecycles. Their challenge is to share appropriate levels of thisknowledge with citizen developers in the form of defining basic governance andestablishing centers of excellence.

Here are five places to start:

  1. Help citizen developers plan their applications before building them. All developers,including citizen developers, enjoy jumping right into developing applications.But the most successful ones quickly brainstorm user personas, end-user roles,workflows, data requirements, integrations, and basic reporting needs to shapethe application design. ITshould help citizen developers plan these steps and develop basicartifacts before jumping into building applications.
  2. Reviewplans for architecture and data governance. To avoid creating siloesapplications, experienced engineers should help support citizen developersconnect to shared resources, including APIs and reference data. Newapplications should follow naming conventions and patterns recommended by IT’scitizen development center of excellence.
  3. Developbest practices on integrating with enterprise and SaaS solutions. Whetheryou’re using Salesforce, SAP, MailChimp, or Slack, and using integration toolslike Zapier, Workato, or Boomi, defining a strategyfor application integrations is a critical success factor. For some typesof integrations, IT may empower citizen developers to implement the integrationwhile others are better instrumented directly with IT’s involvement.
  4. Drivestandard platform and application security configurations. The securityreview should start with selecting an enterprise-readycitizen development platform that supports compliance certifications suchas SOC 1 / SOC2, HIPAA, EU-US Privacy Shield, and DFARS. Also, CISOs or infosecleaders should review the platform’ssecurity assurances, data encryption, role-based administration controls,and SAMLauthentication options. When it comes to application development,identifying a standard approach for defining groups, roles, and access rightsenables IT to administrate a growing portfolio of citizen developedapplications more easily. 
  5. Educateand define version control, application testing, and release managementpractices. Some of the same rules in application development should applyto citizen developed applications, but citizen developers are unlikely to knowthe best practices. IT should partner with citizen developers to shareknowledge and define practices for developing, testing, and releasingapplications so that end-users are not surprised or disrupted by changes.

Citizen Development Enables Digital Transformation

While there are many aspects to how organizations define adigital strategy, digital transformation programs almost always requiremodernizing how work gets done and enabling the workforce with productive, easy-to-usetechnologies.

CIO and IT leaders can accelerate their transformationprograms by sponsoring citizen development programs. Instead of just enablingthe workforce, IT empowers a department’s citizen developers by directly gettingthem involved in the transformation.

This post is brought to you by Quick Base.

The views and opinions expressed herein are those of theauthor and do not necessarily represent the views and opinions of Quick Base.

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5 Signs You're in a Hot Potato Culture

In this week's episode of 5 Minutes with @NYIke, I provide three ways toaddress a hot potato culture. But first, let's define it and identify itssigns.

Hot Potato Culture

Here are some definitions of the idiom, hot potato: (i) any subject which several folks are talking about and which is frequently argued, (ii) something that is hard or terrible to handle, (iii) a ?problem or ?situation that is ?difficult to ?deal with and ?causes a lot of ?disagreement

A hot potato culture is one where few or no one wants to take ownership ofa problem, issue, or opportunity. It implies there's a lack of engagementor initiative. When issues are discussed, there's no one stepping upsaying that they will take ownership and see to its resolution. Whenthere's an opportunity, no one raises their hand and says, "I'm going toget this done."
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5 Critical Takeaways from the 2020 State of Agile Report

The 14th annual state of agile report is now available, and it's one of the papers I look forward to reviewing every year. It surveys over one thousand software development professionals from a mix of company sizes, development team sizes,geographies, and industries. It provides a barometer on what the practices, tools, and business benefits aligned with agile methodologies.

StarCIO Agile Culture and Transformation

My one concern about the survey is that too many respondents come fromindustries that traditionally have high maturity in technical practices.In this year's survey, 27 percent of respondents come from the technologyindustry, and another 17 percent from financial services. The report doesnot separate out these segments, and my strong suspicion is that they skewthe results to higher performing agile organizations.
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Agile Transformation Everywhere! - Winning over Stakeholders

One of my favorite workshops that I do is called Agile for Stakeholders. Nowthere are books, frameworks, and tools to help agile product owners, scrummasters, and leads, including StarCIO Agile Planner, but there are limitedresources for stakeholders.

Agile Transformation Everywhere!

Stakeholders are anyone that contributes to priorities, requirements, andbusiness cases to product owners as input to the vision and product backlogs.Most agile teams and teams of teams work with multiple stakeholders, soeducating them on how agile works and how to be active participants isessential. 

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A New Must Read for CIO and Digital Leaders

StarCIO Must ReaD
I won't say much except that The Future is Faster Than You Think is an excellent "must read" for CIO and digital leaders.

Unlike many futuristic books, the authors write specifically to a ten-year horizon, a perfect timeframe for their thesis. They state quite convincingly that the power of multiple technology convergences will drive stepwise transformations or exponential technologies - and that this will come sooner than we think.
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What is Driving Digital Transformation Change?

After I posted my last 5 Minutes with @NYIke video on the #1 Reason Why Digital Transformation fail, a small discussion ensued on LinkedIn about transformation and change management. Is digital transformation a new name for business transformation? And regardless of what we call it, how can leaders help the resulting change management easier for employees and less difficult for leaders?

Driving Digital Transformation Change

I'm not one to overly debate semantics, but I believe that digital transformation and business transformation have some fundamental differences. Also, if you follow my methodologies on digital transformation, then change management evolves into what I call transformational change.
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Driving Competitive Advantages with Master Data Management

Master Data Management - Customer and Product
Do you feel like your databases are more like data vaults? The data vault contains all the information on customers, prospects, products, operations, and finances, only no one knows how to unlock it and discover its secrets.

Getting inside the vault is only the start of the challenges. Inside, it contains a myriad of data silos, including databases, data lakes, file systems, and other technologies, storing multiple copies of critical data in different formats. Outside the vault, the enterprise has a broad mix of SaaS tools that also contain vast troves of essential data. Plus, there’s an ecosystem of third-party data that, if integrated and joined correctly, can help establish context and better analytical insights.
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