Creating a citizen development program at Medtronic

by Jeremy

A few years ago, Lori Breitbarth, senior IT program manager at medical device provider Medtronic—a company with about 105,000 employees as of 2020—and a developer came together and created an application using ServiceNow’s low-code capabilities. Since then, demand for low-code applications at Medtronic has skyrocketed.

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  At the start, they were tasked with creating an application that could capture people who were calling Medtronic for specific things and route those tasks to the appropriate team. Using low code, they were able to deliver a solution in about a week and a half.  When we had a review of it at the end of their project, they said it was pretty much exactly what they needed, and they didn’t have a lot of suggestions for how it could have been made better,” said Breitbarth. 

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As more departments learned about what low code could do for them, the requests started flowing in. At first, they looked to external resources to help with the low-code development, as they didn’t want to hire someone and ran into a situation where they did not have enough guaranteed work for them for the next 10-15 years. “What we found using external resources is that it’s expensive, and no matter how much you try to do a knowledge transfer, the bulk of the knowledge trust walks out with that external resource when they leave the project. So we thought there’s got to be a different way for us,” said Breitbarth. Their next option? Start a citizen development program. According to Breitbarth, the program at Medtronic relies on three foundational pillars:

  1. Users must understand how to use ServiceNow and go through a training and certification program
  2. Users must understand how to use ServiceNow at Medtronic, meaning understanding how all of the apps interact with each other. “We say here’s what you should do. You should never update a global object to do something specific to you. You should follow these naming practices. You should run our quick-lint utility before you promote anything from development to test. It will tell you if you have not followed best practices and give you some recommendations, fix it and rerun it, and as soon as it comes back clean, you can submit to have it move from dev to test,” said Breitbarth.
  3. Provide a support system for citizen developers so that if anyone needs additional coaching or has a question, the platform team can provide that support. “We have meetings that our platform team hosts weekly that they can join and ask any questions, and we can help them through whatever issue that they’re facing,” said Breitbarth.

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