Finding the Center of Citizen Developer Success

September 22 2020

Since you’re reading these words, you’ve probably heard that the era of expert-only software development is over. We’ve entered a new age of citizen developers, where any of us – IT expert or novice - can use low-to-no-code tools to build the software we need to do our work and solve our problems. But in all this talk about citizen developers, it would be fair to ask: citizen of what?

This is not just some accidental metaphor. In a world where every worker is a potential software developer, every team can make its own tools, and the ways of working are constantly evolving across the whole organization, we need more than just great tools; we need great governance.

Most organizations won’t want to simply exert the iron will of expert IT gatekeepers enforcing the rule.  Nor will they want to leave citizen developers to be completely self-governing. A governance approach that balances between the two is more appropriate.  And yes, that does involve technical guidelines and best practices that are accessible to everyone, but it’s much more than that. It requires a clear, transparent process by which interfaces, databases, metrics, and goals are kept consistent across the whole organization, and a process by which that process can be democratically updated and changed. In short, it requires a whole new culture.

In the case of Microsoft Power Platform, one of the most robust sets of citizen-developer tools out there, Microsoft anticipated this need with what it calls the Power Platform Center of Excellence Starter Kit. Microsoft’s kit is a starter set of automation and tooling to monitor, govern, and nurture the deployment of Power Platform. If it’s the launching point for Power Platform governance, you might say it’s like the Constitution – providing the underlying mechanism for a balanced deployment approach that’s neither too tight nor too loose.

Monitor

The Center of Excellence Starter Kit’s “monitor” features let you gather, catalog, and view data in the platform’s Common Data Service entities: Environments, Apps, Flows, Connectors, Connection References, Makers, and Audit Logs.  This is about overseeing what Power Platform components are being used and where.

Govern

About Venkat Rao

As Avanade's go to market lead, Venkat helps evangelize Power Platform within large enterprises and deliver the right solutions to Avanade's customers. He helps companies embrace citizen development by ensuring they get comfortable with Power Platform and everything that comes along with it. He is also part of Avanade's Digital Innovation Studios and works closely with very talented UI/UX designers and researchers to create human-centric solutions. 

More about Venkat Rao