The second article of this series, “Shadow IT: Why it’s a problem,” explained why shadow IT is an issue for the modern day business and why it must be addressed via thorough analysis and strategic planning. Shadow IT is any hardware or software used within a business that’s not approved or supported by the company’s IT department. This part of the series will explain what companies can do to integrate an effective and secure Shadow IT solution.

Prohibiting the use of unauthorized devices will not solve the overarching problem the shadow IT trend presents, and neither will applying a generalized approach. A company’s IT department must collaborate with individual business units and continuously work to identify the most innovative solutions for the business and its employees.

How to develop a shadow IT solution 

If a business is looking to take a proactive approach to the use of shadow IT within its operations, it’s important for its IT services department 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 the company’s IT department with the rest of the business. The IT department should work to 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 completely, 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 the process for adding new software, hardware, cloud technologies, etc. to the company’s list of supported technology.

2) Require shorter IT evaluation times

Generally, when an employee submits a request for the use of new technology to its IT department, the request is either categorized as a low-priority issue or takes too long to process. 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 amount of time employees have to wait to utilize these tools for their daily tasks. A business should ensure a timely process is in place 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, but certain standards must be enforced to prevent the business from facilitating compliance or security violations that can incur severe financial and legal penalties. Every company is responsible for making sure 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, but it’s necessary a business 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 right planning, research, and preparation a business can reduce the conflicts that occur as a result of shadow IT and possibly eliminate the use of unauthorized technology throughout an organization. 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 the productivity of your organization and help you meet your business goals. Learn more about how our IT consulting services can assist in identifying and remedying the root of your shadow IT issues.