Maximizing Intelligent Automation Efforts: Professional RPA & Citizen Developers

Published By R-Path Automation

Published On March 21, 2023

Robotic Process Automation (RPA) is revolutionizing the way organizations work, and two key figures are leading the charge: professional RPA developers and citizen developers (i.e., employees who utilize low-code/no-code RPA platforms to develop and implement bots, even though it is not their primary job). Each brings unique capabilities to their projects. In this blog post, we will explore the strengths of professional RPA developers and citizen developers and how they can work in tandem to create successful automation scripts to feed your automation program. 


Overview of Professional RPA Developers and Citizen Developers  

Professional RPA developers are often skilled in software development, process governance, and can develop RPA solutions that fully integrate with existing systems. This is also their full-time role. 

Citizen developers typically have a keen understanding of the process they are working to automate and do not necessarily need technical experience to be successful. With the help of low-code or no-code tools, these individuals can rapidly create their own robots without prior coding knowledge.  

Both roles can improve workflows, streamline operations, boost employee morale, and introduce cost savings to an organization. 


Identifying areas where RPA Developers excel  

RPA Developers are often best suited for projects which require intricate process analysis and branching decisions. They are much more likely than citizen developers to have experience with complex process automation. This leads to faster implementation times, ensuring the project is completed within a reasonable timeline while also providing quality results that meet current needs and industry standards. Here are some specific areas in which professional RPA developers excel. 

1. RPA Platform Knowledge and Experience 

When it comes to knowledge and experience related to RPA platforms, there are distinct differences between professional RPA developers and citizen developers. Professional RPA developers possess a strong knowledge of software development processes, workflow management, and process improvement. Consequently, they are equipped with the skills needed to leverage advanced RPA platform features to build sophisticated solutions.  

Although citizen developers can build and execute with low-code RPA platforms, they typically lack the knowledge needed to script more advanced automation tasks like creating preventative measures to fight potential bot failures.  

2. Experience with Programming Languages  

Another key distinction between professional RPA developers and their citizen counterparts lies in their level of experience with programming languages. RPA Developers tend to understand multiple computer programming languages such as Python, JavaScript, and C#. This allows them to develop complex and custom solutions that meet specific customer needs outside of the functions within the RPA platform. 

3. Support and Maintenance 

Professional RPA Developers have a keen understanding of the logic and decision-making behind their scripts. As a result, they are highly capable of supplying tailored frameworks for long-term bot maintenance. It is typical for a professional RPA developer to have a comprehensive checklist of best practices developed over their career and automation program development from which they can draw to prevent potential errors. While a citizen developer may eventually become skilled at building scripts, they are much less likely to have the breadth of experience of their full-time counterparts. 

4. Compliance and Security 

Professional RPA developers also have an advantage in compliance and security best practices. Compliance and security protocols can change quickly and often, and professional RPA developers are more experienced in adapting scripts to accommodate security changes.  

Professional RPA developers also understand the importance of protecting sensitive data from unauthorized access, which is essential for any task that involves the collection, storage, or manipulation of data. Furthermore, they can implement added safeguards such as encryption and authentication protocols to ensure that all automation processes remain secure and compliant. With this level of expertise, professional RPA developers are well-equipped to handle even the most complex automation tasks without compromising on safety or compliance standards. 

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Identifying areas where Citizen Developers Excel 

While Professional RPA developers certainly have an advantage in the technical environment, citizen developers have an advantage in their knowledge of the business, or at least their part of it. Their potential to recognize processes in their domain that could be improved may be higher than a professional RPA developer who does not see the process each day. Here are some specific ways in which citizen developers have the upper hand.  

1. Firsthand Process Knowledge 

Citizen developers have first-hand knowledge of the processes they are automating. They understand business needs and can create automation solutions that align with those needs. For example, a sales representative might create an automation script to automate the lead generation process, ensuring that all leads are captured, and follow-up actions are taken. 

2. Fast Real-World Testing 

Citizen developers can quickly plan, prototype, and iterate on their automation scripts with the help of a low-code/no-code platform. They can create a basic automation solution and test it in the real world, gather feedback, and refine it. Since each step is discovered and implemented with the citizen developer, this can be an agile and efficient way of developing automation solutionsensuring an ROI (return on investment) very quickly. 

3. Highly Invested in the Success 

Citizen developers are often very invested in the success of their solutions. Since they are the individuals who identified the automation opportunity and developed the solution, they are very likely to take ownership of the solution's success and work towards its continuous improvement. The completion of their own automation scripts improves their work-life balance and therefore their likelihood to encourage others to adopt automation. 


The Future of Professional and Citizen Developers in Automation Projects 

Leading organizations have begun to realize that the opportunity for process automation vastly exceeds the capacity of professional RPA development teams and are therefore making room for citizen developers within their automation project framework. While pro-RPA developers have specialized knowledge that makes them essential for more complex implementation efforts, citizen developers can tackle simple projects that fit within the boundaries of their authority and domain expertise.  

 The future is ripe for both professional RPA developers and citizen developers thanks to tools that combine extraordinary power with simplicity and flexibility. Both roles will be in high demand as digital transformation initiatives continue to accelerate. To ensure your company can take full advantage of each developer’s strengths, we suggest creating a formal process to identify, review, and evaluate potential automation projects according to: 

  1. The criticality of the process to your business, 
  2. The need for security and compliance measures, and 
  3. The automation project’s level of complexity. 

You can then route projects that are high on complexity, criticality, and compliance sensitivity to professional RPA developers while allowing citizen developers to work on all the rest. 



In conclusion, having both professional RPA developers and citizen developers on your team can be an effective way to make the most of your automation opportunity. While professional RPA developers bring extensive technical expertise and experience in developing secure, scalable, and reliable automation solutions, citizen developers offer a unique perspective that comes from their deep understanding of business processes. By leveraging the strengths of each group, organizations can develop innovative and effective automation solutions that deliver measurable value to the business.