Leaders at many companies are looking to citizen development to solve remote-work challenges. Salesforce Lightning Platform can help.
Today, many organizations use Salesforce in key parts of their businesses, such as Sales, Operations or Customer Service. However, many don’t realize that because Salesforce built its customer relationship management (CRM) solutions on its Salesforce Lightning Platform, they already have workers who know Salesforce and their business needs well enough to become citizen developers.
Citizen developers are non-IT workers who can create apps to solve business and technology issues, even if they may not know how to write code and have no formal schooling in computer science or technology.
Salesforce Lightning Platform supports these citizen developers with visual tools and intuitive interfaces on the platform. This blog explains how you can use the Salesforce Lightning Platform to create citizen developers to help solve your business problems.
Salesforce and the Salesforce Lightning Platform
Salesforce Sales Cloud is the world’s most widely used CRM tool. As part of a larger ecosystem of Salesforce software as a service (SaaS) products, it offers cloud solutions for many areas of business.
However, Salesforce Lighting provides additional value as a development platform. It includes scalability and security features that may not be top-of-mind for many citizen developers but are critical to an IT organization. In addition, it provides a full spectrum of tools that make it easy to build robust applications for your team or for the enterprise.
For example, the Lightning App Builder enables citizen developers to create a simple process app by dragging and dropping from a huge selection of out-of-box standard components, providing easy-to-use interfaces for creating tables that store data and intuitive tools to enable relationships between entities.
Behind the interface, metadata-driven development further speeds the process. In Salesforce, all of the standard and custom configurations, functionality and code are metadata. Salesforce knows how to store the metadata and serve it to citizen developers immediately after they create it. While Salesforce citizen developers typically work in their own individual development environments, once they complete their work, metadata allows IT to easily propagate the citizen developers’ apps to other environments, allowing IT to control governance as they go into production.
Defining Your Citizen Developer Framework
However, just like any citizen development initiative, deploying Salesforce Lightning Platform requires some up-front work to enable citizen developers to work in your organization safely. From identifying your citizen developers to building your program, providing training and coordinating with IT, citizen development with Salesforce Lightning Platform is a process, but one that is well worth the effort.
Finding Your Citizen Developers and Enabling Your Program
Good potential Salesforce Lightning Platform citizen developers are typically users who know a great deal about the business and regularly work with Salesforce and other software to perform their daily tasks. These workers may include business analysts, project managers or product managers. They work daily to create spreadsheets, leverage macros and use lookup tables.
They are “domain experts” (or “product owners,” in Agile terminology) who have the necessary foundation to become citizen developers because of their mix of business and technology skills related to their daily work.
Once identified, the hard work begins to establish the framework for managing your program, training citizen developers and keeping IT in the loop.
Program management is critical to supporting the development of an application backlog for requests and coordinating with stakeholders and executives to identify and prioritize key application projects. After discussions with key stakeholders, decision makers identify both business applications needing development and the citizen developers with the business and technology skills to build them.
In some cases, the application requestor may be the citizen developer. At this point, common project management starts, including engaging with all of the key individuals who will be involved in the process and identifying the application’s requirements and features.
Showing Citizen Developers Various Salesforce Capabilities, Apps and Ideas
Once the team has identified the application’s features, it is time for the citizen developers to learn how to create them with the Salesforce Lightning Platform. Though the platform makes application development easier, it can still be a paradigm shift from creating spreadsheets and using other office productivity tools. Potential citizen developers may struggle to wrap their heads around solving problems through development, even with a low-code or no-code solution like Salesforce.
Help them get started with Trailhead, a free, world-class learning platform from Salesforce for anyone interested in learning about its tools, from first-timers to seasoned veterans. Trailhead is a great and fun way to learn Salesforce using hands-on learning. Citizen developers should initially start learning the basics by going through beginner administrator trailheads. From there, they can then go to any specific topics while they are building the application.
Once a citizen developer becomes familiar with Salesforce via Trailhead, invite a Salesforce veteran or consultant to show them what is possible with Salesforce. The trainer can help users start thinking about concepts such as entities, relationships, screen input, validations, process and more. They can also help with using visual builder tools, saving progress, publishing and viewing, and maybe sharing work with others to gather feedback. Once users feel comfortable with this process, they can start building apps faster and only reach out for help on a need-to-need basis.
Finally, the Lightning app gallery or the Trailhead gallery can show citizen developers various Salesforce AppExchange applications or accelerators. These galleries are great places for inspiring ideas.
Coordinating with IT
Though their role will be different, IT must remain part of the development process. They can provide valuable feedback while building the application, and they can point out key elements business users are not typically aware of. Remember, citizen developers will take the app only partially through the development process.
Eventually, IT will move the app across environments, conduct security customization, and roll it out to the enterprise. IT will also make sure the application aligns with the governance strategy and manage ongoing maintenance, though the citizen developers would make any future enhancements.
This is just a high-level overview of how Salesforce supports citizen development and what your organization should do to enable it effectively. The goal of citizen development is empowering non-technical business users to create highly effective business applications in an enterprise using low-code, no-code solutions, such as the Salesforce Lightning Platform.
If you are using Salesforce in any part of your organization, you should start seeking ways to use the platform’s built-in resources to empower citizen developers to reach their full potential in your organization.
Learn how citizen development can enhance your Salesforce user experience and processes to improve ROI and shorten release cycles.