You have limited knowledge of programming. But you have an extensive knowledge of your company and the way it works. Therefore, like many other professionals who have never studied computer science, you could become a citizen developer. And to achieve this, you will need the support of your IT team.
Knowledge of coding is no longer necessary when using low-code platforms such as Microsoft Power Platform. For this reason, many companies are turning to their employees, rather than external developers, to build their applications on platforms like Power Apps. These citizen developers have the potential to design solutions that truly align with user needs.
However, there are real risks. And your IT department is not always ready to deal with them. Can you convince the IT team to give you the green light? Here are the five most common fears that IT has and tips on how to better prepare:
Fear #1 – It will compromise the data security.
The biggest fear you will face from the start will be the security of data and the prevention of its dispersal. Managing sensitive data is absolutely a critical issue for any company. The risk is increased if the data is too accessible internally, more specifically to employees who should not have access to this data. The initial reason for your IT team to refuse might be due to the fear that information will end up anywhere and that they will lose control of it.
Regardless of the software you are implementing, it is always essential to establish good practices and sound regulations when it comes to granting access. Setting up security profiles and access requests can limit the flow of information. It is crucial to do this task properly since doing otherwise could expose the company to great risks.
Some tools will help you take the right precautions and ensure data security. For example, DLP (Data Loss Protection) is a set of techniques that allows you to monitor and protect your information. When someone tries to take local information and export it elsewhere, an automatic block will prevent them from completing that action.
Fear #2 – We do not have the financial means.
It is also possible that your IT department is concerned about an increase in costs. The more your company allows many employees to use and create applications, the more licensing costs increase. Depending on the budgets allocated to each department, adding these new costs can quickly become a headache. How do you justify these new costs? And how do you keep track of the budgets spent?
To address this issue correctly, we need to change the perspective from which we look at it. In other words, we must look not at the costs, but at the efficiencies that will be gained as a result. The creation of new applications that will solve problems will increase the efficiency of the organization. Therefore, the investment in licences will be quickly recovered through significant time savings.
For example, if Aaron needs to fill out a paper form for an equipment loan application at work. This process requires two steps as well as back-office data entry. The company must pay for one and a half hour of work for this task. However, if an application could achieve this task, it would cost the company less in employee time. In addition, the organization could free these employees for more essential tasks.
Fear #3 – The IT team will be overloaded.
Your IT department may also be concerned that its workload will increase unduly. Certainly, citizen developers will create useful and relevant applications that users will love. Moreover, there will potentially be a craze around these applications. But it also means that there will most likely be requests for improvements and bugs that will emerge. The citizen developer who created this platform, usually has another job. Whether the employee is an accountant or a project manager, his daily life does not include the upkeep of an application.
The employees of the IT department are obviously familiar with this process. There will inevitably be a forced transition from this file to this department. However, this work could be particularly difficult for the IT team. It is not uncommon for citizen developers to forget to maintain documentation or to do standard follow-ups. The management of the application is then much more complex for the IT department.
The best way to prevent the IT department from being swamped with work is to establish a centre of excellence. This is a team that has a methodology and the necessary tools to support, train and grow new developers. Therefore, this ensures that they are supported in their development initiatives, and that they learn good and sound development practises.
This centre of excellence is sometimes located internally or through external partners. In setting up the centre, members of the IT department will be included, of course, but also super-users and citizen developers. In this context, everyone will collaborate, which will divide the load among many.
Fear #4 – The application data is inaccurate.
The citizen developer who creates an application or dashboard often enters erroneous data into it. If the information used has not been validated, consulting this platform can have serious consequences for the company. In other words, your organization could make decisions based on inaccurate information.
For example, when setting up a Power BI dashboard on sales history, a citizen developer may have made a mistake in the way the data is presented. Just because he knows the technical procedures for building a dashboard does not mean he has statistical expertise.
This problem is not new. It is just as common with Excel documents. Knowledge of statistics has always been necessary to present data correctly. So, in the case of an application, the procedure has not changed. It is still necessary to ensure that the data used, and their presentation is validated.
Fear #5 This will increase Shadow IT
Shadow IT represents all the technological decisions that are taken in your company without your IT department knowing about them. From the perspective of the IT department, giving free rein to the creation of applications by citizen developers complicates the monitoring of the tools being used.
For example, Mario is a business manager. He decides to subscribe to a video-editing software. He then introduces several other colleagues to this same software. Overtime this practice is spreading throughout the marketing department. Two years later, Mario leaves for another company to take on new challenges and is replaced by Jane who takes over as manager. Jane does not know how to use the assembly tool she will inevitably turn to the IT department. However, the IT department does not know about this tool.
It might reassure your IT team to know that it is the complete opposite that will happen. With the use of Microsoft Power Platform tools, everything that is created and implemented is visible to the IT department. The decrease in IT shadowing is precisely of the strong points of this platform. The more the IT department allows employees to use the Power Platform to create solutions to the problems they face, the more it can keep an eye on the tools used.
Rather, it is when the IT department does not offer tools that it exposes itself to a greater shadow IT. They run the risk that employees will subscribe to external applications on their own.These subscriptions can sometimes cause problems for the company. The Power Platform is a bit like providing a backyard for your children to play in safely and have the possibility to keep an eye on them through the window.
Finally, we hope that these 5 tips will help you to prevent certain obstacles in your IT department. In fact, low-code development platforms, such as the Power Platform, bring many efficiency gains. It would be a shame to miss out on them.
Be careful, though. Sure, allowing a team to create efficient solutions to everyday problems is advantageous. But you still need to be prepared. The concerns the IT department has are often justified. It is important to implement good and sound practices that will allow you to fully harness the potential of these tools.
Want to learn more about Microsoft Power Platform tools? Would you like to find out about training and coaching opportunities for your team or your specific situation? Talk to one of our experts, who will offer you personalized advice.
This article was made possible by the commitment of our expert Éric Sauvé, Power Platform Practice Lead.