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  • Putting business solutions into the hands of the business, and providing appropriate governance, generates a win-win for the business and IT

Dell Software today introduced advice on how organizations can intelligently and willingly empower “citizen developers” using SharePoint. By 2014, Gartner predicts that citizen developers will build at least 25 percent of the new business applications.[1] Empowering citizen developers (end users who are not IT developers, but who create business applications for themselves and their groups) can improve the relationship between IT and the business, and result in the creation of stronger business solutions, particularly when the enterprise provides a solid foundation of governance.

As end-users become familiar with SharePoint, they can quickly learn to create apps and solutions to streamline business processes and perform their jobs more efficiently. As they realize SharePoint’s potential and require customizations and enhancements beyond the scope of their tools, training and experience, however, these citizen developers need to turn to IT for help. The problem is that IT often can’t satisfy their requests quickly enough, and ─ due to lack of involvement in day-to-day business operations ─ may not understand the business needs well enough to translate them into project requirements, thus causing further delays.

This scenario presents a dilemma for IT managers. They can either shut down citizen development completely, or embrace it to drive SharePoint usage and adoption and relieve some of the burden on IT. Blocking citizen development can close a promising route to increased user adoption and better business productivity. Giving citizen developers the freedom to customize SharePoint without proper governance and control, however, invites the risk of impacting SharePoint performance, disrupting productivity, or losing content or functionality.

Given these risks, Dell believes organizations should empower citizen developers for these reasons:

  1. Put business solutions in the hands of the business – The more business users are empowered to build their own solution (or to at least frame them out to a point where someone else can finish it), the stronger the result will be.
  2. Cultivate good corporate citizens – Steering citizen developers to the most supportable and upgradeable techniques—through governance—enhances the long-term value of their solutions.
  3. Reduce IT burden – By empowering citizen developers to make their own customizations confidently without posing risk to the environment, IT becomes free to focus on more value-added projects. And, when fully engaged users ask for help, their requests are likely to be better thought out and more realistic for the benefit of the SharePoint platform.
  4. Enhance the IT/business relationship – In many organizations, IT is increasingly viewed as overhead or a road block, not an enabler – hence the rise of citizen development. Through a legitimized citizen development program, IT can better understand what the business needs and wants, while giving users the freedom to build preferred solutions on their own timelines.
  5. Harness the new SharePoint 2013 app model – The new app model in SharePoint 2013 enables site owners to find and install applications from a public SharePoint app store – potentially without calling IT. Organizations need to be proactive about controlling this new model
  6. Improve user adoption – SharePoint succeeds when users can build solutions that streamline business processes and enable them to be more productive in their day-to-day activities.

Dell Software Empowers Citizen Developers to Get What They Need From SharePoint When They Need It

  • Many of the customizations and enhancements SharePoint users want require functionality that SharePoint does not provide natively. With Quick Apps for SharePoint (formerly Web Parts for SharePoint), organizations can empower citizen developers to quickly begin making enhancements in ways IT can support and maintain.
  • Quick Apps for SharePoint delivers a wide variety of customization capabilities including viewing, adding, updating, charting and filtering information; creating dashboard views; and grabbing business data that resides outside SharePoint.
  • In particular, the new Quick Apps for SharePoint v6.0 release provides key solutions that will help IT empower and govern citizen developers:
    • The product’s My First App wizard is a simple, powerful solution enabling users of any technical level to create the capability they need within SharePoint using a fast, intuitive, step-by-step process.
    • Using the qManagement web part, IT administrators can understand which customizations have been made to their environment using Quick Apps, enabling to better governing of development efforts.

Supporting Quote:
Chris McNulty, CTO, SharePoint, Dell Software
“Empowering citizen developers in SharePoint and providing the proper governance can benefit both IT and the business. IT can spend less time dealing with repetitive user enhancement requests while spending more time on value-added projects and business relationships. By the same token, the business wins when application building becomes an easy, self-service process. Implementing a citizen development program can be a win-win scenario for both groups when the program is underpinned by appropriate governance and training.”

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[1] Gartner, Citizen Development: Reinventing the Shadows of IT. Published: February 2, 2012. Analyst(s): Mike Rollings

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