Mazars in Germany Establishes a No-Code Foundation, 20+ Citizen Developers, and Nine Business Applications
A bespoke, governable no-code environment and implementation program
20+ Citizen Developers and nine business applications
A scalable and self-sustaining foundation for rapid application development
Mazars is an internationally integrated partnership, specializing in audit, accountancy, advisory, tax and legal services. Operating in over 90 countries and territories around the world, Mazars draws on the expertise of more than 44,000 professionals – 28,000+ in Mazars’ integrated partnership and 16,000+ via the Mazars North America Alliance – to assist clients of all sizes at every stage in their development.
One of the organizations’ biggest member firms is Mazars in Germany: an innovation frontrunner within the Mazars Group. Within eight months, Mazars in Germany has established a fully personalized no-code environment and citizen development implementation program. As a result, Mazars has a scalable citizen development program, over 20 citizen developers, and nine business applications.
The right solution: citizen development
In an uncertain, complex, and constantly changing business landscape, Mazars is facing the universal challenge of finding or creating digital solutions to securely and efficiently counter complex and short-term problems. Meanwhile, these applications have to be delivered at accelerating speeds with less available resources.
The Digital Solutions team at Mazars in Germany sought a solution and found citizen development. Through application development by business users, the application development process is IT-sanctioned and done in collaboration with or led by the relevant subject matter experts. Thus, those experiencing the problems are quickly building and implementing their solutions. This offers a huge competitive advantage.
Mazars in Germany went through a meticulous selection process regarding their low-code / no-code (LCNC) development partner. Various elements were crucial for the support of their citizen developers, such as:
● Ease of use ● Provisions on templates ● IT governance ● Good documentation and training videos ● Simple integration into different infrastructures ● Style in Mazars branding ● Secure and separate environments and fast support
Betty Blocks ticked all of these boxes for Mazars, providing a secure and easy to use platform for their business users.
“As a citizen developer, the Mazarian of tomorrow will be able to implement its own application, independently crafting the solutions to their own problems.” - Andreas Steuer, Manager Digital Solutions
However, the implementation of LCNC citizen development is not just about a new technology or familiarization with the platform, but involves a new way of work. Mazars knows that this requires structural, practical, and governmental changes in the organization. Let's take a look at how they did it.
A center of excellence
Mazars’ LCNC development started with their Digital Solutions team, who were trained, guided, and supported by the Betty Blocks consultancy team over the course of a couple of weeks.
The two teams established an internal Center of Excellence: a collective composed of the knowledge holders and first-users of the platform. Roles within the team include product owners, product managers, change managers, communication experts, and no-code developers, as well as close IT guidance. The Digital Solution team built and launched various applications, intended for both internal use and customer-facing applicability. Further applications to optimize and facilitate internal processes, as well as to improve customer support are currently being developed. With Betty Blocks’ support, they are working towards a knowledge and skill level to independently support their citizen developers.
Mazars is thus taking advantage of a key benefit of the Betty Blocks platform: it can be used either as a no-code or low-code platform. Through this capability, the platform is suited to each user regardless of their experience or capabilities. With a center of excellence established, strategizing, and building around citizen development began.
“As a citizen developer, the Mazarian of tomorrow will be able to implement its own application, independently crafting the solutions to their own problems.”
A no-code foundation with Betty Blocks
Supported by the Betty Blocks consultancy and services teams, Mazars have created a bespoke no-code environment and custom-created a roll-out plan to structurally build citizen development into the organization. The custom Mazars environment is complete with specific templates, components, styling and branding. Meanwhile, the IT department has added specific roles and permissions, enabling fully governed application development.
With the Betty Blocks platform, finished applications can be shared as templates, and made available to all users. As components and individual applications can be reused each application is built faster than the last, and the time-to-market is minimized. Mazars in Germany is thus launching with a complete and ever-growing application library.
“With each application developed on the platform, the next is created faster and easier. The onboarding process is quick and simple, and users are truly empowered in unlimited application development.” - Yilun Liu, Business Engineer and Product Owner
Meanwhile, together with the Betty Blocks team, Mazars came up with a personal program and learning path to launch citizen development. Roll-out was done in two phases to inspire participation and boost adoption throughout the organization.
In the first phase, Mazars ran a three-week workshop program introducing participants to the Betty Blocks platform and supporting them in their first development projects. Betty Blocks supplied Mazars with the learning tools and hosted bi-weekly Q&A sessions, while the Center of Excellence ran the workshops independently. Through the program, business users learnt how to conceptualize, design, and create applications for their business needs.
Betty Blocks provided us not just with a platform but with a partner in development. Together we expanded many great ideas and got things going from governance concepts to change processes, new product features, and the first few applications
Andreas Steuer, Manager Digital Solutions
For the past two years, Mazars in Germany has been using a highly successful ‘Accelerator’ concept to bring internal ideas to life. These Accelerators begin with ideas which are collected internally from every Mazarian, evaluated by a committee, selected, and matured into prototypes within six weeks. Mazars’ most recent accelerator batch was their first No-Code Hackathon.
For the hackathon, the Digital Solutions team selected the theme ‘Painkillers for Everyday Life’ - ideas and solutions which alleviate everyday frustrations and tasks. With this, Mazars nailed a key element of no-code development: starting with simple, tangible tools and scaling from there. These internal tools which automate workflows and optimize processes are the perfect starting point for no-code development, as participants are working on what they know.
Throughout their years of running ideas campaigns, the Digital Solution Team has learnt that you must teach employees to identify problems and to conceptualize the solutions in order to inspire ideas. To encourage and train this problem-solving mindset the team organized an Innovation Week. Participants came out of the week with the skills to shape solutions out of their challenges, and with ideas that were used to submit to the hackathon challenge via Mazars’ Ideation Portal. This is a structural tool used for inspiring innovation and enabling users to pitch ideas, engage, comment, and place votes.
15 ideas were submitted to the portal, and assessed by the Digital Solutions Team in collaboration with Betty Blocks. The team evaluated the urgency and need for the solutions, the platform fit, and the buildability. The Service Lines in which the tools would be implemented were also consulted at this stage, to look at whether implementation would be feasible and successful. Here Mazars went through a crucial stage in citizen development: properly establishing the platform fit, opportunity, and use of the tool to ensure success.
Out of the 15 submitted ideas, nine were selected to start developing during the six-week Hackathon.
Ready, set, no-code: The Hackathon
During the Hackathon the participants were organized into nine groups of varying sizes, developing nine applications. In line with the theme ‘Painkillers for Everyday Life’, each of the tools were thus geared towards digitizing internal processes or automating manual workflows. This makes the business faster, more efficient, and less error-prone.
Multiple teams worked on developing a questionnaire application for audits and ESG assessments. These tools enable users to make a quick assessment of their status, compliance, or progress in a given field. Other teams developed knowledge databases, which centralize information and expertise regularly asked about or searched for throughout an organization. This eliminates the time taken to repeatedly search for the same answers or respond to the same questions, as well as the back-and-forth communication.
At the end of the Accelerator, each member of the nine teams continued working on and finished developing their applications with the help of Digital Solutions. Thus, nine solutions were developed both for internal process optimization and for advanced and digital work with the client.
A tactical support system
Throughout the Hackathon the Mazars Digital Solutions Team established a tactical support system to ensure resources and support were provided to participants. The system consisted of:
● Scheduling time for innovation To prioritize innovation, Mazars ensured that each team would have 50% of their capacity reserved for the Hackathon. This creates proper time and space for innovation, and signals its importance throughout the organization.
● Organizing Workshops In the first weeks of the Hackathon the Digital Solutions Team ran workshops covering all the necessary skills for building. Additionally, teams could attend weekly Desk Sessions for co-building and Office Hours for expert guidance
With citizen development we can launch innovative solutions which free up time and make our organization as a whole more efficient. We are driven forward by our own expertise, our own people.
Klaus-Lorenz Gebhardt, Partner Digital Solutions
20+ citizen developers and continued development
The Hackathon was a great success, producing nine applications and over 20 new citizen developers operating across various core Service Lines.
After the six-week Hackathon had ended each of the teams continued developing their applications - a huge testament to the success of the accelerator. Now, three of the applications are finished and being rolled out in their respective departments. Meanwhile, one of these teams has started developing a second application. Evidently, the structural approach and consistent support successfully inspired innovation and developed the right skills.
The teams continuing with developing their applications have been allocated a project manager to provide high level support and aid with timelining. This is another method through which Mazars ensures that innovation continues to be encouraged and prioritized even once an Accelerator Batch is finished.
A step into the future
Mazars has thus taken a true change management approach for launching citizen development in a governed and scalable way. By establishing a full LCNC habitat composed of a bespoke environment and personalized learning program, Mazars in Germany has laid the foundation for fostering, guiding, and scaling citizen development.
With Betty Blocks, finished applications can be used as templates or reusable components. As a result every solution functions as a building block for the next, and every new generation of citizen developers benefit from the work that was done before. This empowers Mazars to onboard new developers and build at accelerating rates.
Now development projects run on a smooth trajectory and are categorized into: ● No-code projects ● Collaborative projects ● Low-code projects
With a fully personalized and IT secure no-code environment, all the right training and documentation, and first proven success, Mazars can now support any type of developer and start scaling their citizen development.
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