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Why RPA Tools Were Never Able to Empower the Citizen Developer

3 min read
Jul 26, 2021 9:45:00 AM

The ease of implementation and value capture for automation delivery was sold on the idea of enabling the Citizen Developer by RPA (Robotic Process Automation) platforms. Average business users, Citizen Developers, would be the drivers of automation—building and deploying the bots needed to apply RPA at scale, thereby unlocking the significant ROI automation promised.

Unfortunately, that vision never materialized. This is why:

What is the Citizen Developer

Before getting into why the concept of the Citizen Developer was a long shot, it’s important to understand what was expected of them.

According to Gartner, a Citizen Developer is “…an employee who creates application capabilities for consumption by themselves or others, using tools that are not actively forbidden by IT or business units…All citizen developers are business technologists.”

With regards to RPA, Citizen Developers were supposed to be business personas that could drive automation from identification right through to deployment. In fact, most RPA vendors positioned themselves as the solution that would empower these business professionals to fuel automation and scale it across the enterprise. They proposed that their user interfaces (UI) and user experiences (UX) were so intuitive that anyone could build a bot.

This Citizen Developer, as it came to be coined, was supposed to be responsible for the design, coding, testing, security, and delivery of RPA. The reasons the idea of Citizen Developers never materialized are painfully evident when considering what they were theoretically tasked with.

Why the Rise of the Citizen Developer Never Got Off the Ground

At its core, automation is software development. Today, the various roles in software development are highly specialized. For example, you have trained professionals for Quality Assurance (QA) with a high level of technical expertise that manage and execute all testing. They ensure that the software does what it’s supposed to do without any surprises or buggy behavior. Organizations no longer just rely on their IT resources for things—there are specialized roles to deliver and execute on the complexities inherent in every form of software development.

With RPA in mind, the skills needed for Citizen Developers to effectively drive and deliver automation are simply too high. To complicate matters, each RPA tool is unique and, despite marketing to suggest otherwise, demands a high level of technical proficiency. There’s coding involved and an understanding of the services and commands that your processes contain. It’s not for the faint of heart.

The support for this type of business user that would adopt the Citizen Developer mantle never existed. If you don’t have the necessary enablement and structure in place, you run into a lot of issues. Bots are already brittle as it is. Without the mechanisms to support and enable professionals to take on such a challenge, outages and uptime will suffer.

Learn More: How to Prevent RPA Break-Fix Cycles and Slash Maintenance by 30%

RPA however doesn’t necessarily have to live and die with the unrealistic idea of the Citizen Developer. A simple reframe and shift of expectations is needed. The priority should be in implementing and enabling the Citizen Designer.

What is a Citizen Designer

The Citizen Designer in the RPA workflow is a persona that is much more easily and readily attainable. It essentially represents the business user that designs automations which any analyst or process owner can do.

Many people in organizations right now are Citizen Designers. They’re the ones who already define how your business works; the ones who know and understand how processes and tasks are executed in your company today.

Therefore, the idea of implementing and supporting Citizen Designers to define the task for automation, optimize it, and layer in all the dependencies can be done with speed and ease. Developing and deploying bots is highly-skilled, technical work, but designing them with the right tools isn’t.

How Blueprint Empowers Citizen Designers

Blueprint has the specific, purpose-built capabilities to support and enable Citizen Designers everywhere. Using Blueprint’s Business Transformation Platform, your Citizen Designers can design complex end-to-end automations by:

  1. Defining high-level processes in a best-of-breed, intuitive process designer and editor.
  2. Capturing the detailed task information for those processes with Blueprint Task Capture that collects all the low-level specifics needed for automation development.
  3. Easily adding critical dependencies – like the different systems the process interacts with, regulations, policies, and controls – to those processes with AI-assisted modeling.
  4. Automatically generating test cases and high-quality user stories that can be effortlessly synced with any ALM tool you use to drive downstream development.
  5. Automatically packaging all this precise context and guidance into a Digital Blueprint that can be exported into any RPA tool you use because we have direct integrations with the leading providers.
  6. Governing your entire RPA program and proactively managing change from one centralized platform with full enterprise visibility.

The result is a flourishing RPA program with scores of Citizen Developers to fill the automation pipeline and enable scale, while delivering higher-quality and accelerated development with the comprehensive and precise guidance of Digital Blueprints.