Blog | May 5, 2021

Embracing the Citizen Developer in the Intelligent Automation Era – Part I

What is a Citizen Developer?

What is a citizen developer?

Blue Prism was founded twenty years ago on the idea that democratized technology is the key to creating an entrepreneurial enterprise. From the beginning, we have focused heavily on enabling business-led automation to support operational agility, an approach that today would receive the label of “citizen development.” In addition, Blue Prism has always supported a federated (or franchised) operating model in which individual citizen developers can exist outside the center of excellence (COE) but can create automations that are managed in the enterprise repository by the COE.

Blue Prism feels so strongly that business users should be enabled to create their own automations that we made a conscious decision to allow our customers to distribute the Blue Prism workbench (Design Studio) widely, at no additional cost within their organization. Citizen developers can, and often do, emerge from all over the organization once intelligent automation becomes a core competency. We’ve learned over twenty years through real-world experience that a scalable citizen developer model can be very successful with the appropriate level of central IT/governance.

Simply put, a citizen developer is a user (company employee or trusted external source) who creates new business solutions using no-code development and runtime environments sanctioned by corporate IT. Often, this person is an impassioned business user, who is looking to overcome obstacles or increase efficiencies and can build automations without any prior coding experience.

Citizen developers can surface in many different functions/departments, and sometimes the people you least expect to become citizen developers emerge with this new identity and purpose. The success of intelligent automation within an enterprise can often produce a wave of citizen developers with a new passion for reinventing work without having to rely on IT.

Here’s one example of a citizen developer profile:

Citizen Developer Blog Slide1

Blue Prism believes citizen developers should be trained and empowered to create automations on behalf of their team. These analytical problem solvers should be equipped with no-code technologies and trained to generate safe and reliable solutions that improve team agility.

This philosophy carries over to the Blue Prism product strategy, as well. We are focused on continually delivering product enhancements that accomplish the following:

  • Reduce the learning curve and time-to-value for a citizen developer to build a robust automation via no-code interfaces.
  • Encourage cross-team, cross-silo and cross-enterprise collaboration between citizen developers and the central or federated automation teams.
  • Encourage and support the reuse of pre-built components to achieve a compounding effect from automation across the enterprise.
  • Support citizen developer activities as part of a robust software development life cycle (SDLC), with tools to support the proper management, auditing, security, and support of automations.

Citizen developers are here to stay. The good news is that Blue Prism has supported them since our inception in 2001 when our co-founders, two citizen developers themselves, pioneered the RPA concept. Business-led, IT-governed intelligent automation is in our DNA.