In a recent webinar poll we conducted, over half of the attendees were already deploying citizen development toolkits. A solid change management plan can help them succeed and ease everyone else’s fears.
In this blog, I am going to provide some guidance to address those concerns. Having a solid change management plan will provide you with a systematic approach to your deployment, ease the concerns of your team, and increase your likelihood of success.
The Basics of Citizen Development
First, a quick recap – what is citizen development? Simply put, it’s a development platform that allows users to automate tasks, workflows and processes using low- or no-code, often drag-and-drop development tools.
These incredibly powerful yet relatively simple-to-use tools put work automation into the hands of the business user. Tools such as Microsoft’s Power Automate, part of the Power Platform suite, allow business users to automate repetitive, manual tasks. Even if they reach across multiple systems and processes, the tools enable them to focus on more meaningful, rewarding work.
So how can you harness the power of your team, obtain high levels of engagement and adoption, and get true business value from these tools? Here I share the top ten change management best practices we have learned from successfully deploying these tools for our clients.
Change Management for Citizen Development
1. Ensure you have visible and engaged executive sponsorship.
Both the business and IT sides of your company need to know you view citizen development as a priority, important, and that you support their effort. People also should understand your IT organization is behind them, and you or IT won’t brand their efforts as “going rogue.”
2. Be clear about your goals.
Why are you deploying citizen development? What do you want to get from it? How does it align with your business strategy and goals?
When you’re armed with answers, it makes it easier to communicate your purpose to your team in a way that engages both hearts and minds. It also informs your metrics strategy and ensures the application of the tools aligns with your purpose.
Note: Be careful not to only focus on the IT solution. Though citizen developers should not tackle problems that affect your most strategic, critical business applications, such as your ERP, they will help in high-impact areas that touch employees every day. Communicate that value to build buy-in and identify potential pilots.
3. Assess your business environment.
How successful have your prior projects been? If asked, would people find them favorable? How does your organization deal with change? How much change is happening right now?
If your team is worn out, stressed, and has change coming at them from multiple angles, then they will likely, passively support your citizen development initiative at best, and adoption will be poor.
Don’t forget to look at IT. How open is your team to deploying citizen developer tools and placing ownership outside IT?
4. Ensure you have effective governance in place.
Establishing standards, structures and security before you start will set the scene for success and make it easier to manage your citizen development framework down the road.
Use both formal and informal communication channels to prepare your team and keep them informed.
- Why are citizen development tools important? (Hint: the goal you defined in step two will help you paint this picture).
- Why should people care?
- How will they be involved?
- Where can they get help?
Please don’t overlook the importance of open and honest communication. Poor or insufficient communications can lead to confusion and disillusionment. Whatever your impression is about how much communication you think you should do — double it. This applies whether it’s a small pilot team, a department or the whole enterprise.
6. Understand the impacts.
Understand deploying automation tools has the potential to change business processes and tasks significantly. People often have to retool or at least do things differently when repetitive, manual tasks go away. When you are open about this and explain the impacts, it can reduce concerns that “robots are going to replace my job.”
7. Train your team.
Take the time to educate your team on the tools and how to use them. This should follow two paths:
- Show people what is possible: Many of the tools will be new. Take the time to show your team what the tools can do to help them conceptualize how to use them and build their desire to participate. Piloting the tools in key business areas can be a great help here. It allows you to try it on for size while providing practical examples people can point to within your business.
- Teach people how to use the tools: This step is obvious but important. You cannot simply roll this out and expect it to work. Users must understand how to use the tools and where the boundaries lie. Your training should escalate as knowledge increases. Start small. Once people have mastered the basics, then they will be ready to absorb more information and take it to the next level.
8. Gear up your support channels.
Both IT and your expert citizen developer team play an important role in supporting your deployment. Many organizations start to wind down their user support when they deploy. After all, the tools are now live, right? It’s especially tempting to think so with self-service, learn-as-you-go tools like citizen developer platforms.
However, this is the most critical time for your users. How you perform now will decide whether your deployment will succeed or not. This is when true learning and engagement begin. User groups can be a great tool here as well because they promote learning and can provide you with an excellent feedback loop to hear how things are going.
9. Use broad metrics to measure your outcomes.
Metrics should include utilization (are people using the tools?), proficiency (are they mastering their application?), and business impact (are you achieving your goals? Again, see step two above).
Good metrics allow you to measure true value and provide important examples in your ongoing communications campaign so you can continue building momentum.
10. Invite your citizen developers to contribute in charting the course.
When you ask your team to participate in your Center of Excellence and help shape the strategy for your future enhancements, it builds ownership and engagement. It is called “citizen” development, after all!
A solid change management plan is the key to ensuring success with your citizen development program. It’s not just about adopting a platform. It’s also about everything those platforms touch, from the day-to-day work employees are accustomed to doing to relationships between IT and business people.
Get ahead of the game by putting a plan in place first, and if you have already started your initiative, monitor it closely for signs of stress. After all, one side benefit of citizen development is bridging the IT and non-IT divide, so that everyone can play a part in growing your business!