Managing Shadow IT

Managing Shadow IT

Shadow IT: Navigating the Unofficial Path to Getting Things Done

In the world of corporate IT, there’s the official way to get things done - contact the helpdesk, file a development request, make a business case. But as we all know, deadlines, objectives, and reality often get in the way. Telling the boss that you can’t deliver because you’re held up by the IT department won’t cut much ice. “Find another way and get on with solving the problem” might be the response.

The Appeal of Shadow IT

For many people, it’s easier to go around the problem than through it. With the abundance of affordable cloud services and personal computing power, it’s tempting to take matters into your own hands. A few minutes and a small expense later, you can have a web server with a database up and running, ready to serve hundreds or thousands of users. Combine that with some programming skills and tools like Microsoft Access and Excel, and you can solve those nagging admin problems in less time than it takes to navigate the official development process.

The Risks and Concerns

While we at Enterprise Systems understand the appeal of Shadow IT, we also recognise the multitude of risks it introduces. Data protection, backups, information security, and unsupported systems are just a few of the concerns that keep IT departments up at night. Some try to combat Shadow IT with tighter security or disciplinary action, but we believe this misses the point.

A Balanced Approach

At Enterprise Systems, we recommend open communication and guidance to minimise the long-term risks of Shadow IT. Here are some tips for both IT departments and prospective Shadow IT developers:

For IT Departments

  • Simplify your development and support request processes
  • Provide development guidance for in-house applications
  • Offer internal hosting at minimal or no charge using approved technologies
  • Maintain a log of Shadow IT apps and plan for long-term migration
  • Use Shadow IT as an indicator of shortcomings in your strategic apps

For Prospective Shadow IT Developers

  • Use technologies that align with the tech roadmap - sometimes called a “Target Operating Model”
  • Keep management and IT informed
  • Comply with data protection laws and company policies
  • Implement regular backups and thoroughly test your work
  • Investigate and prioritise security

By fostering collaboration and understanding between IT departments and business users, we can harness the benefits of Shadow IT while mitigating its risks. At Enterprise Systems, we’re committed to helping organisations strike this balance and achieve their goals.

John Court 18 Dec 23

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