5 Steps to Become a Citizen Developer
If you’re like many businesspeople, you spend more than 40% of your day on manual administrative tasks. Imagine if those tasks could be automated—accelerating your work, increasing your productivity, and freeing you for tasks that actually require your expertise. With Robotic Process Automation (RPA), software bots can be created to automate your manual, tedious tasks and work non-stop with 100% accuracy.
“That would require IT to handle the automation. And they’re extremely busy with all the other projects,” you say. But there is a way to transform your work—without depending on IT for development. How? By becoming a citizen developer. In other words, with minimal training and tools designed for people who don’t live and breathe technology, you could learn how to automate your processes—no longer depending on the specialists.
So, what will it take to add the title “citizen developer” to your name and reap the benefits of creating bots yourself? Consider these five steps.
#1 Connect with your automation leader
If your organization has implemented automation to enhance its processes, you’re on your way. Some organizations with automation have already created a citizen developer program for their business users. Reach out to your center of excellence or IT leader to learn if there’s a program in place and how you can get involved. If a program doesn’t exist yet, suggest it.
Another requisite is having an automation platform and tools that allow for self-service. Not all platforms are created equal. Some require extensive programming expertise with complicated tools for developing software bots. Hopefully, your platform is designed to focus on the end-user, with easy-to-operate, easily accessible tools—for example, low-code/no-code, cloud-based tools—to help simplify development.
#2 Get up to speed
Your organization will also need a way to provide training. Some organizations may leverage vendor-offered citizen developer classes or learning paths for their users that cover the basics of RPA and how to use tools created specifically for citizen development. Other organizations work with vendors to offer custom or in-person training.
Online classes are also available through universities and industry education companies that touch on citizen development concepts. And there are general information videos and tutorials on YouTube for most of the leading RPA platforms.
#3 Build your first bot
You have the basics. You have tools. Now, what are you going automate? A software bot should have a purpose. What specific process do you want your first bot to handle?
You’ve probably been thinking about that process before you knew about citizen development. Even so, is it the right candidate for your first bot? Start small and simple. An easy process that’s stable and doesn’t have many variations. Follow this path:
- Start with the requirements
- Break down the requirements into logical steps—creating a flowchart can help visualize the flow
- Build a bot to mimic that flowchart and ensure it meets the needs of the initial requirements.
Learning to become a good citizen developer is no different than learning any other skill—it takes observation, practice, and repetition.
#4 Look for bigger automation opportunities
Once you’ve mastered creating a bot for one simple task, flex your knowledge. Consider what can be done to automate processes end-to-end in your organization. Share your automation success with your co-workers to help give them a lift in their day-to-day efforts as well. Assist them in identifying new pain points where automation can make a difference.
As mentioned earlier, with your first bot, you probably already had a process in mind to automate. Now you’re ready to hunt for other good candidates.
Get help with identifying candidates by using specialized process discovery software that may be offered by your organization or available through RPA vendors. If your organization uses other bots, check them out to help you get ideas for automation possibilities. You can also explore the community bot marketplaces of RPA vendors for inspiration.
#5 Make it official
So, after building a few bots, you discover you like being a citizen developer. Why stop? There are many opportunities to expand your skillset.
Take advanced classes through your organization, if available, or go through the RPA vendor that has provided your platform. Look for bot building tutorials that can help you on your journey as a citizen developer. Many organizations that have training offer certification, indicating advanced proficiency in RPA development.
You can also join community groups. Check out the bot building forum and the developers everywhere group on A-People, where Automation Anywhere developers can post questions to the community and get answers.
Take charge of your automation success. Get started as a citizen developer and automate those mundane tasks.