On the face of it, it sounds like a great idea and a no-lose proposition. Put automation tools in the hands of your employees, and see what they can automate! I know of at least 3 models:

  1. A colleague came from the finance department of a company where everyone in that department was trained on an RPA platform; his experience was positive, the company he came from is extremely process-oriented and well known for being so.
  2. A CTO friend went a different route at his company where every single employee was given the chance to learn an RPA tool. The hope was that with a low/no-code tool it would empower employees in "unexpected ways". Not much came of that effort.
  3. Another company is using the citizen developer model only in its shared service center, and only employees with a certain skillset are allowed to participate. It seems to be working pretty well there and they are tracking the results in terms of time and dollars saved.

Google the term "citizen developer" and the RPA companies will probably turn up at the top of your search. And with good reason. The idea of having every employee in a company "own" a bot must be quite enticing. A bot on every desktop to help every employee also sounds good, but does not sound convincing in terms of delivering the hoped-for value.

The citizen developer model for automating work should not replace a controlled Center-of-Excellence-led model that is focused on really driving automation and changing the way work is done in a business. But if it does no harm, and it is targeted at the right people, with some thought to tracking the results, then the citizen developer model for automating work might be a good addition, as long as the expectations are reasonable (and probably low).