Published 09:58, 16 July 09
So, you have finally taken the plunge and given your end-users more power to create useful applications. The job, however, is far from done.
A criticism often levelled at end-user development (EUD) is that IT managers are putting the responsibility for creation in the hands of non-technical specialists. The result could be developments that are hard to maintain or inflexible to change.
Such criticisms would be fair enough if your business allowed users to create bespoke applications that cannot be updated in-line with wider organisational transformation. But what would be the point of that approach?
A well thought through EUD approach allows line-of-business employees to create tools easily and certainly quicker than through in-house development that relies on traditional programming.
In the current economic climate, quick and easy development is likely to curry favour with your demanding boss. More importantly, the approach is extremely cost effective.
As a rule, many companies tend to hang on to technology for too long. Take the financial services industry, where many firms rely on bespoke banking systems running on legacy code.
But an ‘if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it’ policy can have a damaging long-term effect. While many of the systems still run effectively, it can be very difficult to modify legacy technologies.
The legacy mode of engineering often relies on outdated skills, meaning firms find it extremely difficult to retrofit code into modern architectures. The issue has become increasingly pertinent, with such outmoded systems looking cumbersome in comparison to much off today’s web-enabled infrastructure.
Putting development tools – such as spreadsheet macros, process models and collaborative wikis – in the hands of your users is likely to help you create winning applications that could improve your current technology set up.
While IT professionals are likely to have an idea of the broad sweep of tools that could help employees work more effectively, users will have an exact knowledge of the types of interface that could help them make the most of business information.
The inherent nature of EUD means applications can be configured easily, thrown away at the end of their useful life and new applications redeveloped quickly.
Such an approach means that with careful guidance and well-defined rules, your employees can use EUD to develop applications cost-effectively and in-line with changing business demand.