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Shadow IT: How to Develop a Shadow IT Solution (Pt. 3)

August 10th, 2016 | IT Security

The second article of this series, “Shadow IT: Why it’s a problem,” explained why shadow IT is an issue for modern-day business and why you must address it via thorough analysis and strategic planning. Shadow IT is any hardware or software used within a business that’s not approved or supported by its IT department. This part of the series will explain how companies can integrate a practical and secure Shadow IT solution. Prohibiting the use of unauthorized devices will not solve the overarching problem the shadow IT trend presents, nor will applying a generalized approach. Instead, a company’s IT department must collaborate with individual business units and continuously identify the most innovative solutions for the business and its employees.

How to develop a shadow IT solution

Suppose a business is looking to take a proactive approach to the use of shadow IT within its operations. In that case, its IT services department needs to analyze why shadow IT initially occurred. Such a strategy can better suit the needs of employees and help the company develop an effective Shadow IT solution. The first step in achieving this goal is initiating a more thorough integration of its IT department with the rest of the business. The IT department should identify what caused the implementation of shadow IT by reestablishing the relationships between the department and the company’s employees. This will help facilitate improved communication within the organization and enable the IT department to establish itself as the trusted, primary regulator of IT solutions in the workplace. In the past, companies have either instituted blanket bans on unapproved resources or ignored the issue altogether, but the problem has become too large to generalize or ignore. To remedy shadow IT, a business should work to transition the role of its IT department from focusing on service-desk tasks to enabling end-users by employing the following tactics.

1) Establish a clear IT policy

The first step towards building a shadow IT solution is establishing a policy that specifies best practices and regulations around using new technology in the workplace. A business should provide clear instructions to its employees regarding adding new software, hardware, cloud technologies, etc., to its list of supported technology.

2) Require shorter IT evaluation times

Generally, when an employee submits a request to use new technology to its IT department, the request is either categorized as a low-priority issue or takes too long to process. Instead, experienced IT professionals should perform frequent, high-priority technology evaluations that will aid in the development of an IT strategy capable of preventing the need for shadow IT.

3) Streamline IT adoption procedures

A streamlined process for integrating new technology into the workplace will help a business reduce the time employees have to wait to utilize these tools for their daily tasks. A business should ensure a timely process to assess and approve new technologies that can benefit a company’s various business units.

4) Proactively research and plan IT strategies

The only way to meet the demand for innovative technology within a business is to remain informed about the latest developments within the IT industry. The company should ensure its CIO or managed IT services provider is performing technological research and analysis that will allow the business to remain secure while becoming cutting-edge in the equipment and processes it employs.

5) Firmly enforce IT policies and protocols

Flexibility is necessary when managing a company’s IT infrastructure. Still, you must enforce specific standards to prevent the business from facilitating compliance or security violations that incur severe financial and legal penalties. Every company is responsible for ensuring these standards are met throughout the organization and should continuously work to improve and update these policies as needed.

6) Budget for unexpected IT expenses

It’s common for a business’s IT budget to be the most restrictive. Still, a company must acknowledge the importance of exercising a flexible budget, especially when managing a shadow IT solution. Shadow IT projects are generally unexpected, and a business must have the freedom to shift and allocate resources to suit the needs of employees and allow various units to collaborate successfully. With the proper planning, research, and preparation, a business can reduce the conflicts that occur due to shadow IT and possibly eliminate the use of unauthorized technology throughout an organization. However, firms across all industries must recognize the prevalence of such practices and avoid applying a resistant approach to managing these changes. At Aldridge, our team is always looking for new technology and processes that can enhance your organization’s productivity and help you meet your business goals. Learn more about how our IT security services can assist in identifying and remedying the root of your shadow IT issues.