Today’s guest post comes from Louis Maas, Mendix Business Engineer at Sogeti NL. Louis has been working with Mendix since June 2013, after starting in IT as a Java Developer. In addition to working on many proof of concepts, internal and external projects, he has also actively promoted Mendix as a platform within Sogeti. In this post, Louis shares three tips for getting citizen developers throughout your company familiar and engaged with Mendix.
At Mendix World 2014, Gartner Analyst David Norton told attendees there is no stopping the rise of the citizen developer. “You can’t stop the gifted amateur,” he said. “What we can do is facilitate it.”
This is exactly what Mendix aims to do. The platform provides citizen developers with a way to more quickly build apps, which allows them to show their thoughts to the world and add value to their organizations.
Everyone who has worked with Mendix knows that it makes both developers and users happy. It’s easy to learn, even more so now that the introductory course is available online for free. But first, the citizen developer needs to know about Mendix and have the opportunity to try it. This is where you, the resident Mendix enthusiast, can take the reins and help them “see the future!”
To help get you started, here are three ways you can familiarize your citizen developers with Mendix and spur broader interest in the platform:
1. Provide a Way to Communicate & Share
Enable all Mendix users in your organization to communicate and collaborate. One obvious way is the social collaboration features within the Mendix platform but there are also wikis, forums, or whatever your company’s intranet provides. Use these tools to broadcast information and create interaction. This will allow developers to share experience and knowledge or to ask questions. This is also the ideal place for you to share all the information, tutorials and guides available online with your Mendix developers-to-be. Help them help themselves become a Mendix master!
2. Facilitate Hands-On Experience
“I hear and I forget. I see and I remember. I do and I understand.” -Confucius
Mendix uses this quote to advertise their workshops and it could not be more true. Because most company training is a mindless broadcasting of knowledge, you remember a fraction of the information, if anything. Mendix presents the perfect opportunity to deviate from this norm.
Organize a meet-up for everyone who’s interested, advertising that they will get hands-on experience and might well walk away having built their first app ever! Keep the atmosphere of the meeting informal and even fun; we provided cookies and mint tea at our hands-on meeting, for example. Start the meeting with a short introduction of Mendix, but make sure most of the time is reserved for allowing people to try it themselves, getting hands-on experience. Provide help with their questions, set up some step-by-step guides on building a simple app and watch them enjoy themselves.
3. Host a Hackathon
If you have a small group of experienced Mendix developers (or anyone who has completed the basic Mendix training, or has some project experience) there is another way to let everyone know you mean business: organize a Hackathon! Hackathons are high-performance, fast deadline competitions to build an app with a common goal. In one evening or for the more hardcore, in 24 hours, teams try to create the best, most creative solution to the challenge. You could either pit Mendix teams against each other or even better, Mendix versus a traditional programming language or two. Show them the power of Mendix in contrast to the old way of thinking. You can use an assignment around an internal issue your company is facing or if you want to go big, get a charity involved. Make sure people know about the event and award prizes for the best solutions. In the end, the winner will be you!
What we see
It all sounds rather simple and in essence, it is. As long as you remember to have fun and make sure your citizen developers do the same. Within Sogeti, we’ve been spreading the word of Mendix for over a year now and we’ve seen our community grow, from developers to designers, testers and even administrators. Everyone responds with great enthusiasm to our passion for Mendix, and they especially appreciate the opportunity to get hands-on experience. Lately even Sales have joined us in our hands-on meetings, creating their first app in just three hours and walking out the door with a big smile on their face. You can be sure that their colleagues are going to hear about it!
These are just some examples of ways that we’ve empowered the citizen developers in our company. If you have questions, want to share your own experiences or want to exchange thoughts on the subject, you can contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org or send me a message @LouisMaas1 on Twitter. I look forward to hearing your ideas.
Power to the citizen developers!