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Why you no longer need to fear no-code citizen development

With the right workflow automation technology, the risks of citizen development are an outdated myth. It could invite less chaos than your current state of operations.

The words no-code automation and citizen development can put an image of chaos into many technologists' minds—employees going rogue when implementing their own automations, using out of control data, integrations and it all happening in a black box. There is a right and a wrong way to implement technology, and many have the fear of  “shadow IT” putting the company at risk and setting fires that IT eventually has to put out.

But what if oversight and control was built into the technology? That makes the fear of no-code and citizen development a myth from the past traditional and outdated technologies. Here’s why.


Features for no-code governance

The right no-code workflow automation technology will have guardrails within the processes you build and on the platform itself. Here are some of the features that make it possible to create a citizen development program without risk:

  • Workflow staging, testing, review, publishing and approval process
  • Version control
  • Self-managing data layer and low-maintenance infrastructure 
  • Built-in error handling and task routing for fixes
  • Quick editing, changes and improvements
  • Data visibility, traceability and audit trail capture
  • Security and permissioning for users, processes and data tables
  • SOC2 Type 2 and HIPAA compliance
  • Command line (CLI) and Software Development Kit (SDK) for advanced configuration


Combined with the user-friendliness for employee citizen development, these IT-approved features allow for the best of both worlds. Business users who become citizen developers can create automations for the processes they’re already experts in, using little to no help and freeing up time for technical teams. And an IT group or automation Center of Excellence can easily control the security details, ensure that the workflows being built fit a big-picture strategy, even give advanced technical help when needed.


The new Excel hacker

Whether you think of them as citizen developers or not, your company likely already has many of them. You might know them as a colleague who is an expert at Excel pivot tables, macros and formulas. Today, companies have an alarming number of essential business processes and records running on spreadsheets like these. 

"71% percent of respondents said their organizations depend on spreadsheets for collecting data across the majority of their business."

In a survey by FSN, 71% percent of respondents said their organizations depend on spreadsheets for collecting data across the majority of their business. 43% of respondents don’t know how many spreadsheets are in use in their company.

While this is because Excel is prolific and easy to use for the average employee, it also invites a tremendous amount of risk. Disparate Excel use can be a nightmare for IT because of:

  • Files being created ad-hoc
  • Different versions scattered everywhere
  • Manual updates and inaccuracies 
  • Storage on individuals’ computers

Data is not secure or visible, processes are not standardized and operations could suddenly break down because of a number of errors in a fragile spreadsheet, or even if an employee with essential files on their computer leaves the company. 

There’s a better way to let employees create their own processes with a no-code tool as easy as Excel, but with proper IT controls, governance, audit trail and more. A no-code automation platform like this can actually make compliance and security even easier and empower your Excel-savvy employees with the tools to solve their process problems the right way.


Center of Excellence

While IT plays a crucial role, a no-code platform and citizen development program shouldn’t be the responsibility of this one department. Forming a dedicated automation group can also lower risk, adding more methodology, strategy and stakeholder perspectives.

A Center of Excellence (COE) is a team that provides leadership, best practices, research, support and training for a focus area–in this case, for automation and no-code citizen development across a company at scale.

Establishing an automation COE to govern the growth of automation safely will allow you to make the biggest impact on your operations. While citizen developers take on the actual automation builds for faster scale, they aren’t operating in a decision-making silo. A COE ensures that all decisions and projects are driving towards the same goal.

Using this approach, global manufacturing company Bosch has created over 1,000 automated workflows which complete over five million tasks annually, all across 31 countries. Catalytic’s no-code platform with built in governance controls made it easy for Bosch to scale according to rigorous cloud security needs, critical for a company of its size and global footprint.



This myth about citizen developers is just one of seven common myths affecting digitization progress today. Explore the origins of these misconceptions and learn the realities of low-code/no-code and automation.  

Read the guide

Written by Catalytic