Case studies

A de-risked, best practice citizen development model for an insurance and financial planning organisation

key fact

Gartner predicts that large enterprises will develop 70% of new applications through low and no code approaches in the near future. This has significant commercial advantages, including efficiency, agility, cost savings and freeing IT to work on higher level technical projects.

Our client is a key player in the insurance, investment, and financial assurance market. The organisation manages a multi-billion-pound portfolio to protect and serve the financial planning needs of hundreds of thousands of customers. Our client embraces the role of citizen
development in optimising productivity, breaking down IT/business silos, and supporting core business processes.

Since 2020, our client has grown rapidly, expanding its staff five-fold and significantly increasing its asset portfolio. Citizen development initiatives have also increased, empowering our client’s people to implement innovative solutions in a streamlined and cost-effective way.


Our client was keen to ensure that its citizen development can sustainably scale and withstand increasing regulatory standards without constraining the agility of developers. The technology and architecture leadership teams wanted to establish an upgraded operating model and governance framework. The aim was to enable end users to innovate, create, and cascade knowledge in a safe, de-risked and accessible development environment.

Our client recognised that designing an upgraded citizen development model would be a complex process. Multiple stakeholders were involved across leadership, IT, and the wider business. Significant change management would be needed, alongside a deep understanding of the challenges, opportunities, and risks that citizen development can bring. Having worked with Mason Advisory previously, our client felt that our expertise across the business and technology transformation landscape would bring impartial insights, support cross-function negotiations, and ensure that best practice standards are met.


We began by conducting a current state assessment of citizen development across our client’s Finance, Investment, Data, Enterprise Architecture, and IT functions. We used a combination of stakeholder workshops, interviews, and technical and operational reviews. This identified the vulnerabilities, pain points and risks associated with the current citizen development environment. We also examined our client’s change management capabilities in detail, assessing their readiness to transform from current to new ways of working.

Importantly, we used the Project Management Institute’s Citizen Development Handbook to ensure that, in designing the target operating model, we consistently applied the latest best practice guidelines to our recommendations.

From the business’ perspective, we identified five key challenges across the areas of governance, standards, safety, testing and automation, and development. We mapped each of these to a recommended solution, articulating what might need to change, why the change is needed, and the likely benefits of delivering the change.

From an operational viewpoint, we explored the benefits of moving our client’s current inventory of citizen developed applications to the organisation’s Service Now platform. We explained the advantages of this approach so that our client could make informed decisions on
value versus cost.

In the governance arena, we used an RCSA (Risk Control Self-Assessment) Framework to recommend a suitable policy structure, guardrail life cycle, and application design standard moving forwards. We illustrated how this approach would create a de-risked development environment and what the upgraded citizen development process might look like.

We then proposed a phased roadmap with high-level options for consideration. These options were designed to maximise benefits, drive continuous improvement, and implement the transformation in a manageable, collaborative way. We recommended an initial focus on quick wins and leveraging existing projects to generate early benefits, while laying the groundwork for bigger ticket changes in the longer term.

We also advised our client on change management considerations. These included strategies to ensure stakeholder buy-in, and to introduce governance frameworks that will enable productive, de-risked citizen development initiatives.

Finally, we supported our client with the cross-function negotiations needed to bridge the gap between different departments and priorities. We ensured that the target operating model aligns to the needs of multiple stakeholders, departments, and the leadership team. We then presented our findings to key members of the executive leadership for their consideration.


We completed our work in early 2023. Our findings equipped our client with a comprehensive view of the commercial, cultural, risk and change considerations associated with citizen development. Our recommendations did not dictate a single way forward. Instead, our client has short-, medium-, and long-term options to facilitate internal decision making.

Our client is now able to evaluate and prioritise a viable roadmap to transform their citizen development model. This will enable them to maximise the benefits of citizen development in a safe, streamlined environment defined by best practice and appropriate governance. We are proud to have supported our client through this complex journey, leaving them with the knowledge and options they need to confidently prioritise the journey ahead.

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