BMC turned 15 developers into more than 100. How? It started with a pilot program
We sat down with Sudheer Sura, IT Director at BMC, to talk about his experience launching a citizen development program:
When it comes to citizen development, "you build it, you own it," is a phrase that we use many times.
My name is Sudheer Sura, I’m an IT Director overseeing the Salesforce Platform at BMC Software.
We were having a strategy meeting with my boss and he brought up a concept of, "How do we make sure that we are not keeping the lights on and do something innovative in IT?" I started saying, "How about, since we have the Salesforce Lightning platform, how about trying to deploy the platform and launch a citizen development program?" They thought it was a great idea to meet the business demand. And we decided, before we launched to the larger group, we want to make sure that we test the waters with a small group of people.
Many people were showing interest in volunteering for learning the platform, and joined citizen development. So we expanded to at least about 30, 40 of us IT developers to learn Salesforce and participate. We directed them to the Trailhead, which is the best place to learn, first before they come to my team because I don't have a large team to go and train them.
Once we got the feedback from the initial group of people, and these are a friendly audience so they gave us the constructive feedback on what works, what doesn’t work. So that helped us to put together the lightweight governance. We want to be careful not to put too much roadblocks for our business people to develop the application.
We don't have any prerequisites for a citizen developer. We want to make it open and available for anybody in the company to come up with an application. Once they come up with an idea, they submit a form, simple form with basically who's the developer, what his skill sets are. Once it's submitted, it will automatically route it to my team, and we review it. Once we find out that this is a good citizen development candidate, we approve it. They get an email, and they also get a sandbox created for them that they can use it for developing. We send some instructions for them, how to start. We assign a technical architect they can reach out to if they have questions. It's important that they feel comfortable, that "Okay, I have somebody to go to if I have questions. I'm not stuck.”
We recommend them to do a POC usually, a proof of concept, and then show it to my technical architect and they give the feedback. Once they finish the remaining development, we have automated tools run this check that this is ready for testing. We have an automation tools that takes that application and push to our full sandbox in QA, and they rerun their initial testing and code review and other automated processes, make sure that it's not impacting the large enterprise. And once it's ready, my team will take and move that to production. And once it goes to production, we automatically have a route for any upgrades, enhancements for that dev ops team to develop.
Our philosophy has been that if you build it, you own the application, and we have automation rules to allow the requests coming in for enhancements or support for that application. And we have a mechanism in place to take care if the person leaves the organization. I think that's one of the biggest questions everybody had in mind when we told them about rolling out citizen development, "Who's going to maintain this software for like upgrades, enhancements, support?”
Within our automation, we have a CI/CD group, a DevOps group basically, they're kind of DevOps champions. It's a small group that comes from different departments, and work together. So all this stuff we automated, and we use tools like DX, a combination of DX, Jenkins, then Checkmarx, those are some of those tools that we use, and we stitch together. That way, any development application done by the business users is not impacting our core enterprise platform. I think that's a key part of the citizen development success.
Some of the information that we capture at the time of requesting, a business that is requesting a citizen development application, is capture those metrics. What are they trying to achieve with this application? And we try to use that as a measurement to find out how they achieve the goals.
If they are achieved above 50%, I think we can say that it's a successful application.
I think the biggest unexpected [benefit] for us is the amount of backlogged requests that were able to make it to the citizen development program. In the past, we said this takes about two to three years to get the backlog items. I think we were able to knock down many of them in the past two quarters of launching the citizen development. I think that was a surprise, not just for us, but as a company. We felt that it was a good unexpected benefit of citizen development.