The term Shadow IT is used when individuals within a department of a company, not IT, take tech matters into their own hands. Within a company, technology services are needed. This is why an IT team exists. However, in many cases, IT can be less than easy to work with and can be known as not being able to complete tech projects on time. Instead of waiting for the IT team to assist, individuals might take tech matters into their own hands and complete what they need, hence Shadow IT, working in the shadows of the IT department.
Why Does Shadow IT Exist?
The HR department or sales might need a server or an application. Instead of waiting for the IT department to gain the necessary approvals and complete paperwork, an individual of the department might go ahead and provide the needed tech components. The project is completed without the help of IT. It is not uncommon for individuals working in the IT department to feel that these individuals are not following the rules and feel angry or frustrated when instances like this occur, as the proper procedures are not being followed. But, IT has no right to feel this way.
The department in question is closer to the project and knows how it should be completed. The department knows what they need to get the job done; IT does not.
IT is the Problem; Not the User
Individuals who have a problem with Shadow IT are the problem, not the individuals handling the tech needs themselves. If you have an IT department that is high functioning, easy to work with, get things done, streamlined, etc.; working closely with teams and getting services done in a quick manner in a friendly environment, then Shadow IT doesn’t even have a need to exist in the first place.
Those IT departments that do have a problem with Shadow IT, consider your role in the company.
- Are you completing tasks in a timely manner?
- Are you working with individual departments, providing what they need, with a friendly demeanor?
- Do you answer the phone when a support call comes in?
- Do you address tickets in a timely manner?
Perhaps the problem lies within the IT department. When the IT department is hard to work with and does not offer streamlined service, the other departments will take matters into their own hands to get things done and to avoid having to deal with IT altogether.
Departments will be happy to work with the IT department when their needs are being met and are treated with respect instead of being a stickler for rules and regulations and taking forever provide services.
IT Doesn’t Know Everything
While IT may know more about technology than sales, HR or marketing, IT will never be able to know the problems of these departments better than the departments themselves.
Departments don’t want Shadow IT either. I’ve never met an HR professional that’s just fiending to set up his own Exchange server! If he does, then he’s probably being forced to because his IT department isn’t making it happen.
As the IT team, if you notice something out of place, ask. Talk to different department teams, be understanding and friendly to their needs. Ask how you can help instead of looking to take away the tech they have set up due to company protocols. Talk to the individual about their tech needs and make the appropriate changes so everyone is happy, the company and the different department teams as a whole.
When you are courteous, inquisitive and flexible rather than forceful, demanding and rigid you’ll see your Shadow IT problem slowly diminish.