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How Does Citizen Development Elevate Employee Experience?

Team Kissflow

Updated on 11 Mar 2024 4 min read

When most people think of digital transformation, they think of achieving end-to-end automation of all their business processes using advanced tools powered by an army of tech professionals. The reality is far from this. Many companies soon find out that the army of tech talents they think they need is not as readily available as they initially thought.

Well, that’s only one half of the problem. Even with organizations that have a fully-functional IT department, the process of building applications is often slow and inefficient. Depending on what needs to be done, it’ll take a couple of weeks or even months to automate workflows the traditional way.

Fortunately, it is possible to achieve digital transformation without IT departments doing the heavy lifting. Existing employees empowered by no-code tools can build products that drive innovation across an organization. These non-IT business users building their own digitized processes are called citizen developers.

Not only is this an efficient way of achieving digital transformation, but one of the ultimate benefits of this approach is that it can improve employee experience as well.

Who are citizen developers and why are they important?

According to a Gartner report, by 2024, 80%[1] of tech across various organizations will be built by individuals who are not IT professionals. These will be citizen developers using low-code and no-code tools to build solutions that power business processes.

By definition, a citizen developer is a non-IT employee who creates applications both for themselves and others using platforms that are approved by IT. They’re tech-savvy employees within your organization who have an in-depth understanding of specific processes and challenges and are empowered to build automation solutions to overcome these hurdles.

Leveraging the capabilities of your existing employees this way helps to achieve digital transformation faster and at a reduced cost. It also improves the adoption and scalability of digital transformation efforts. But more importantly, the shift in digital culture benefits your employees too and can improve their satisfaction with their job quite significantly.

Enriching employee experience with citizen development

When many people think of the benefits of citizen development, they look at all the potential benefits for their business; how it can boost profitability and improve their bottom line. But true digital transformation is not achieved by merely using employees to achieve digitalization goals, it is achieved by empowering employees to achieve these goals.

For any organization that adopts it, citizen development provides a golden opportunity to make work better for employees. This in turn leads to immense benefits for the organization.

The following are some of the ways citizen development improves employee experience and how this results in better outcomes for businesses.

1. Increased job satisfaction

By taking a citizen development approach, you will achieve your primary goal of digital transformation faster. At the same time, your employees will enjoy better job satisfaction and see an improvement in their well-being. This will in turn deliver incremental results and returns on investment.

Manual and time-consuming activities impede employee productivity and lead to disengagement. But the solution isn’t merely to drop the automation tools that employees need onto their laps (this is both costly and unrealistic). The fine middle line to tow is to encourage your team to innovate on their own through a well-governed citizen development program. At the end of the day, you’ll witness better employee performance and increased job satisfaction while still achieving desired business outcomes.

2. Upskill your employees

Transforming your business through a no-code automation approach means your employees will have to learn new digital skills. While this makes them more valuable for your digital transformation goals, it upskills them as well. Retraining your employees to easily create and deliver the process automation they need makes them better placed in the overall work ecosystem.

In the future, citizen developers are likely to outnumber IT professionals. Upskilling your employees gives them the unique opportunity to become part of this elite force of business users that will build apps and drive innovation in the coming years.

3. Aids the adoption of a digital culture

Digitalizing processes will require people to do things differently. Resistance to this type of change is one of the leading causes of failure in digital transformation initiatives. One of the ultimate benefits of the citizen development model is that it allows non-IT employees to play a direct role in delivering the products and services that drive innovation. This simplifies the “digital culture change” aspect of digital transformation.

The model involves empowering employees with the automation technology they need. This allows them to better harness their knowledge, creativity, and innovative thinking, which is one of the ways you can drive true culture change. Encouraging business users to innovate this way makes them feel more engaged in the digital transformation process. In turn, it drives positive impacts on employee performance in the long run.

4. Promotes team synergy

One of the ultimate results of citizen development is that it promotes collaboration between employees as a way to facilitate new intelligent automation ideas. Empowering employees to grow their skills through citizen development does not just increase their personal satisfaction at their job, it helps you build better teams as well.

The best citizen developers often possess front-line knowledge about processes across various business units. They’re also more in tune with how process improvements can drive better outcomes not just for their own teams but also for other departments.

5. Better employee experience for IT teams

You could say citizen development makes life easier for IT professionals and you’ll be absolutely right. In any organization that is heavily focused on innovation, business units want IT to build applications that solve their problems and do so right away.

This puts immense pressure on IT teams and can affect the work experience of IT employees. Working assiduously to develop new solutions while maintaining existing IT infrastructure ends up overstretching IT limits, sometimes beyond what they’re meant to handle. Allowing citizen developers to spearhead innovation relieves some of these responsibilities.

Learn more: How Citizen Development Helps Build Technology Outside of IT


Whether intended or not, enhanced employee experience is one of the major consequences of citizen development. When done right, citizen development is an opportunity to drive innovation and achieve it faster and at a more reduced cost. At the same time, it enhances overall employee well-being by helping them to upskill and increase their overall job satisfaction. Organizations that take this approach often find that it yields loads of benefits down the line.

Kissflow's citizen development platform brings business and IT users closer together by enabling Citizen developers to build no-code apps, create and manage boards, or automate workflows. Business users can take control of their own digital needs while IT leaders can continue to provide a secure and scalable platform for digital growth.