If you’ve found yourself pulling your hair out over Shadow IT, you’re certainly not alone. But there’s no need to stress yourself to death! Here’s why all is not lost if you’re struggling with aligning your IT department with other LOBs:
- Shadow IT brings to the forefront the very real problem of control vs consumption. If you’re attempting a traditional control-based approach to governing the applications other departments in your business use, take a step back and consider your operation model. Are you really listening to your customers’ needs? Or are you unnecessarily impeding them with long decision and implementation cycles?
- It’s a chance to spark a conversation between IT and lines of business to figure out what technologies are already being used and if/how those can be adapted to your enterprise needs. Seek alignment. See who has taken charge of approving infrastructure and/or IT resource needs from each LOB and find out what it is they’re not getting from you. Chances are they’re not spending efficiently for the sake of the “now.” You are a resource, too!
- Shadow IT forces an organizational shift in thinking, and essentially forces businesses to keep up with technology, whether they want to or not. As Brad Pitt succinctly says in “Moneyball,” “Adapt or die.” Given the data-driven nature of baseball, that is certainly apt here. IT departments are taking to the idea of being service providers, and it’s time to join the club and compete effectively with them. By contracting with an outside provider, you become a broker for these services you can trust, and other departments can come to you with any requests. Going back to the control vs consumption model, this is a good way to transition to delivering services on demand by the sip while still maintaining the control you require over the infrastructure.
The times, they are a-changin’ and you have to move pretty fast to keep up. You must learn how to be competitive with the market, which means meeting with LOBs and executing deliverables quickly. Keep in mind that this might not be doable all by yourself. If that’s the case, find a provider who can, and partner with them. You literally can’t afford to take six months or more to vet an application or set up your infrastructure, because not only will your customer have grown tired of waiting, revenue opportunities may be lost and your business reputation may be negatively impacted, making the next deal harder to find.
If you are thinking of handling the IT infrastructure yourself, be sure to consider these components:
- Requirements gathering
- Canvasing and research
- Governance, compliance and financial approval
- Production deployment
- Monitoring and ongoing administration
- Data protection, replication, security and maintenance through the application lifecycle
- All the other work you need or prefer to be working on
Now consider if this is the best use of your department’s time. My guess is it isn’t. If you have an outside source taking care of those things, you can focus on (presumably) more fun core IT projects and be more efficient.
Shadow IT certainly poses many headaches for an organization, but it’s also a wake-up call that it’s time for a conversation between your IT department and your various lines of business. So start talking!