How Business-Led Development Can Empower IT

Feb 09, 2022
IT Leadership

The Battle of the IT Backlog.

Man working at desk on computer
Credit: Getty Images

We now live in the age of agility—where all parts of businesses are rushing to digitization. In the face of these rapidly changing market dynamics, many IT organizations find themselves under-resourced to handle the increasing expectations for their employees to adapt.

Some of the leading organizations in the world are using this momentum to push more digital responsibility into the business. But how is that possible?

Establishing a practice of safe, secure, business-led citizen development partnered with IT governance is building a stronger relationship between IT and business teams and allowing for strong business-led development. And this work is already underway – as IDG recently found in their MarketPulse survey, “Empowering Business Users for the Next Era of Digital Transformation,” IT believes that 28% of business innovators could build their own solutions currently by leveraging business-led development. Further, IT recognizes the critical nature of this work already.

“We cannot cover the sun with our thumb. There is just too much demand for IT. You have to build a framework and leave freedom in that framework,” says Javier Poilt, CIO of Mondelēz.

Here are the three components of how to make business-led development scale in your organization, and how Polit has made them work at Mondelēz.

Get “hands on keyboards”

“Get hands on keyboards, and get people working,” says Polit, a progressive IT leader that is a pioneer in the low code/no code space. And as IDG found, there is potential here – one in five survey respondents capable of leveraging business-led automation tools are not doing so.

This is the key to get business buy-in for technology at the edge of the business. Find a platform that allows your business users to build solutions to their business processes that they know best. You will see quick wins, in days and weeks not months, and the business units will feel empowered to continue to build solutions.

You may be thinking, this could turn into a nightmare if everyone is building solutions in all different parts of the business—and that is true. But building on the right platforms with the right guardrails can prevent this – in fact, IDG found that ease of use is a priority for 71% of IT leaders in finding a development solution.

Enabling business users to build, iterate and integrate business applications while ensuring proper controls for security and compliance is critical for IT and line of business teams to build the partnerships needed to bring their company forward.

Build a common repository

Once you have established a few key use cases in different departments, and even geographic areas, it is now time to create a common centralized repository to scale your practice. This centralized location will house templates and specific workflows that other departments and teams have built. With these standard templates shared across departments, already-effective workflows become repeatable across the entire organization.

Polit uses the example of the centralized repository at Mondelēz International—where different geographic locations across the world can share best practices and templates of applications they have built. This has allowed them to scale and grow in a way that is compliant with IT guidelines and establishes best practices across the entire enterprise.

Build ambassadors in the enterprise

A key to scaling a practice of business-led development is finding key business partners that are leaned in on technology, on an enterprise level. The organizations having the most success – 32% of organizations, according to IDG – are the ones finding the best people to evangelize their processes.

“You know who these people are,” says Polit, on identifying the people across your business that can own the constant improvement of the processes they’re close to. In his experience, the line of business leaders want to be at the cutting edge of building innovation are always evident. Core IT can build relationships with those leaders and prove out use cases showing success that will influence other leaders across the business. This is not only furthering the practice of business-led development but also creating a stronger relationship between IT and the business for initiatives moving forward.

“When you hear the CEO talk about low code/no code, you know you have made progress,” says Polit.

Deb Gildersleeve, CIO at Quickbase, doubles down on this in IDG’s report. “If the business isn’t involved, IT can only drive so much change,” Gildersleeve said about business-led development. “You need to make sure everyone knows development is a company initiative, that everyone plays their part, and that it doesn’t happen in disconnected silos.”

The IT backlog is a long-standing hurdle that core IT teams have had to manage, but establishing a safe, secure practice of business-led development can be the key to jumping over it and moving forward.

Looking for more questions to see how empowered your organization is to innovate? Take our Citizen Automation Assessment Tool here.