End of development or end user development?

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July 9, 2008

Don’t worry programmers, coding is here to stay. However, there is the question of whether all development should be done by programmers?

I’d argue that business applications should be developed by business users with specialised tools provided by programmers. And there is nothing new about my suggestion, it is aligned with a trend called End User Development (EUD).

End user development is not the end of the road for the IT department

Allowing non-professional developers to create or modify technology resources sounds like an IT manager’s worst nightmare.

After all, giving control of development to untrained users is likely to involve complicated logistics. And who needs programmers if the business can develop its own code?

IT managers should chill out. End user development (EUD) - the activity of allowing users to create code - is happening and will continue to increase. A recent US-focused survey estimated the number of end user developers will hit 12 million by 2012.

The good news for firms fearing the transformation is that EUD can help cut costs and boost efficiencies across a wide range of technology areas, such as web design, collaboration and modelling.

Non-IT professionals will become involved in code development for a number of reasons.

Sometimes unsuspecting employees create ad-hoc solutions for specific business problems, such as macros in Microsoft Excel. On other occasions, end users respond to gaps in existing technology provision and search out new resources.

You should get involved now and understand business needs around EUD.

Create policies to help ensure compliance is prioritised and programming errors are minimised.

A group of academics from the Manchester Business School are already analysing the potential benefits of EUD and IT managers can discuss their own experiences at: http://eud.survey.sgizmo.com

You will probably find that giving non-IT professionals an opportunity to develop resources offers a route to smarter technology management, rather than the end of the road for the IT department.

So, be brave and investigate the potential of end user development; because if you don’t, your competitors soon will.


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