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7steps

to scaling automation with citizen development

Giving your employees the power to boost automation

An easy yet effective way to address this challenge accelerate the pace is to democratize automation. This guide covers everything from the basics of citizen development to its impact on organizations and the key steps for driving a successful citizen development program. Learn more about how you can create a culture of automation and realize your digital transformation agenda.
Integrating digital technologies empowers people with the right tools to perform at their best. Now, more than ever before, companies are under pressure to speed up this process. The catch? A shortage of IT professionals.

Introduction

Citizen development: What does it mean and why is it gaining rapid traction?

Citizen development is more than just a buzzword.

In the past, developing and implementing digital solutions was the exclusive preserve of IT. They’ve rolled out a whole host of productivity-boosting, problem-solving apps to support the workforce. Citizen development turns this on its head — by encouraging people on the floor who do the work to identify pain points and design their own automation solutions — using low-code and no-code (LCNC) tools.

Unlike IT, citizen developers automate jobs they themselves do, vastly reducing the gap between supply and demand, leading to high impact automation, faster roll-out and adoption, and robots that are useful to colleagues.

Citizen development presents a unique opportunity for organizations to bridge the gap between the growing demand for automation and the shortage of skilled staff to develop these solutions.

Why is citizen development needed now more than ever?

Currently, 50% of business process automation projects fail. Why is that?

The truth is – automation initiatives are plagued by several common pitfalls. Here’re just a few:

Apart from this, 91% of employees believe their organization should be more willing to invest in digital and technology skills training. The gap is also felt by senior leadership teams, with two-thirds fearing their organization is facing a digital skills shortage.

You won’t be surprised to learn that 84% of companies say digital skills are more important to their business in 2021 than two years ago. But you might (and should) be alarmed to discover that in the last six years, the UK saw a 40% drop in young people leaving university with relevant technology skills. No wonder 76% of businesses think that the digital skills gap could further hit their profitability.”

Sundara Sukavanam,

Chief Digital Officer, Firstsource

So, how does citizen development shrink the gap?

Citizen development presents the perfect opportunity to empower non-IT employees on the frontline with new skills, tools and techniques, and approach problem solving through incremental changes. It helps close the digital skills gap and contribute to improvements by:
Develop
Enable
Teach

Embrace

However, for citizen development to succeed…

Key characteristics of organization, governance, mindset-change, and culture need to be considered when it comes to adopting citizen development and putting the power to automation solutions in the hands of the people.

If you are looking to realize the benefits of organization-wide automation at scale and strengthen your company’s ability to manage change, these seven steps can help you.

Institutionalize standards

Identify processes

Onboard Citizen Developers

Decide on platform

Enable teams

Evaluate automations

Reward power-users

Step 1

Institutionalize standards to ensure quality, security and control

As with any new tech roll-out, you need to put processes, controls, practices in place right from the outset. You cannot expect employees on the frontline to be familiar with relevant regulatory and compliance controls when they’re developing a solution to a productivity problem.
Implementing a federated, citizen-led operating model facilitates citizen development by:
Pro tip
Make governed citizen development an integral part of your IT strategy to ensure a sustainable model over the long haul.

Pro tip

Make governed citizen development an integral part of your IT strategy to ensure a sustainable model over the long haul.

Institutionalize standards

Identify processes

Onboard Citizen Developers

Decide on platform

Enable teams

Evaluate automations

Reward power-users

Step 2

Identify the right processes to automate in a governed model

To set the citizen developer program up for success, strategic intent must be established top-down by:
Pro tip
Some of the answers may not be binary and may be peculiar to processes in one’s organization – make sure the human and not just the technological attributes are considered.

Pro tip

Some of the answers may not be binary and may be peculiar to processes in one’s organization – make sure the human and not just the technological attributes are considered.

Institutionalize standards

Identify processes

Onboard Citizen Developers

Decide on platform

Enable teams

Evaluate automations

Reward power-users

Step 3

Onboard citizen developers and provide training to create an automation mindset

Everyone can have access to automation, but not everyone can be a citizen developer. Just as important as selecting the right use cases is finding the right citizen developers by:
Pro tip
As you are recruiting people, develop a backup list. People get busy with other projects or they leave, so it’s likely you will need to find new citizen developers.

Pro tip

As you are recruiting people, develop a backup list. People get busy with other projects or they leave, so it’s likely you will need to find new citizen developers.

Institutionalize standards

Identify processes

Onboard Citizen Developers

Decide on platform

Enable teams

Evaluate automations

Reward power-users

Step 4

Decide which no-code/low-code platform to go with

There are a wide range of platforms on the market — so before going platform hunting:
Pro tip
Make sure your platform partner can provide adequate training on building, publishing, and running your automations.

Pro tip

Make sure your platform partner can provide adequate training on building, publishing, and running your automations.

Institutionalize standards

Identify processes

Onboard Citizen Developers

Decide on platform

Enable teams

Evaluate automations

Reward power-users

Step 5

Enable agile cross-functional teams to go into action

You need to put the right guidance, guardrails, toolsets, and training to maximize the chance of success for citizen development by:
Pro tip
Consider gamification techniques to encourage and reward people as they take actions amenable to automation.

Pro tip

Make governed citizen development an integral part of your IT strategy to ensure a sustainable model over the long haul.

Institutionalize standards

Identify processes

Onboard Citizen Developers

Decide on platform

Enable teams

Evaluate automations

Reward power-users

Step 6

Evaluate your citizen-led automations

Once citizen developers start creating bots, ongoing assessments need to be carried out for:
Pro tip
This is not a set-it-and-forget-it solution. Process owners will have to monitor/audit every bot that gets deployed.

Pro tip

This is not a set-it-and-forget-it solution. Process owners will have to monitor/audit every bot that gets deployed.

Institutionalize standards

Identify processes

Onboard Citizen Developers

Decide on platform

Enable teams

Evaluate automations

Reward power-users

Step 7

Reward “power users” and watch them turn into program evangelists

Use experience mirroring – a common human behavior – to advance your citizen development agenda. Find your “power users” – celebrate great bots and reward the people who create them. Recognition helps in:
Pro tip
Keep it competitive, incentivize “power users” periodically.

Pro tip

Make governed citizen development an integral part of your IT strategy to ensure a sustainable model over the long haul.

Off the page and into practice: Firstsource Automation League

We launched a pilot to put citizen development to the test across two of our largest business units.
We worked with outstanding automation and training partners to develop a winning methodology: the Firstsource Automation League.
And it’s delivering.
Pulling together summary reports used to take ages. Now the bot chases the team for me and collates all their data in one spreadsheet. All I need to do is check it and push send to my line manager. The bot saves me 460 employee-days, and it’s saved the business $56,355.”

Poonam,

Team Leader at Firstsource

Welcome

to the era of the citizen developer

It’s only just beginning — but it’s here to stay. Moving forward, we believe that companies will need to start investing more in citizen development programs to expand automation capabilities at large.

To find out more about how the Firstsource Automation League framework can help take your business to the next level, please click here.

References
1. Forbes, the-truth-about-why-rpa-fails-to-scale
2. UiPath Survey, May 28, 2020.
3. Microsoft, Unlocking the UK’s potential with digital skills
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    Eddie Monteiro

    Eddie is currently Chief Operating Officer at Educational Testing Service (ETS), where he sets and drives the transformation agenda across the company and has responsibility for all technology and operations functions in addition to the College Board, K-12, and teacher licensure businesses. He previously ran business and technology services at Pearson, where he built a global team to enable scalable delivery of enterprise functions. Prior to that, while at IBM, he held several executive leadership roles in the US, Mexico and Brazil across a diverse set of industries and clients.
    Geetha Krishnan

    Geetha Krishnan

    Geetha Krishnan consults with the Indian Institute for Human Settlements in Bangalore as Senior Advisor and Head of Digital Blended Learning, where he spearheads their online learning and continuing education portfolio. Over 25 years, Geetha has played senior roles in diverse sectors such as academia, online learning, and advertising. In his last role as Director – Centre for Executive Education at the Indian School of Business (ISB), Geetha was head of the profit center comprising more than 50 open enrollment and long duration programs and spearheaded ISB’s foray into online learning by enabling their partnership with Coursera.
    Susan Aldridge

    Susan Aldridge

    Dr. Aldridge is an Executive Higher Education Consultant to university presidents and ministers of education regarding business models and technology-enhanced education. She recently retired from Drexel University after serving six years as president of Drexel University Online overseeing more than 125 online programs. During her six-year tenure as President of University of Maryland Global Campus (UMGC), she doubled the university’s enrollment to 97,000 – to become the largest public American university. She also served as Vice Chancellor for Troy University’s Global Campus managing online programs and satellite campuses in 12 countries and 17 states.

    Alan Greenberg

    Alan Greenberg

    Previously Director Apple Education EMEA and APAC, Alan led the team that built Education Podcasting and iTunes U. He has worked on the development of Apple Education mobile strategy, iOS Education APPs, and developed the SEED CSR project in China, a collaboration between Apple, Foxconn, and Pearson. Executive Board of WideCells Group Plc, Group CBDO, and EVP & Founder of Wideacademy; his working contributions include multiple technology engagements providing domain expertise across digital, mobile, brand, scale-up, international business development, and venture capital.

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