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Using an Enterprise App Store to Shine a Light on Shadow IT

By Joni Ferneau, Director of Technical Infrastructure

This is an excerpt from the Webinar Service Delivery Nirvana: The New IT Business As Usual

To me, Shadow IT represents an all-too-common scenario when the business makes technology decisions independent of the internal IT support teams.  With the adoption of cloud and SaaS-based applications, it has become very easy for the business to exclude IT in their technology planning, sourcing, and execution.  I recently read a statistic that 79% of line-of-business executives believe that they make better and faster decisions than IT.  Historically, there is a lot of truth to the perception that IT just “gets in the way.”

Shadow IT

In the legacy days, when IT identified a business issue, it was a long and detailed process to even get to a final solution.  My team would meet with the business to gather requirements, put together a Request For Proposal (RFP) document, select the vendors to participate in the RFP, request responses from those vendors, and then select to 2-3 finalists for the short list.  From there, the IT team would meet with each vendor and make a final recommendation.  Then my team would put together a formal presentation to the line of business, who would approve the recommendation and THEN, and only then, would the project actually move forward.  Once approved, we would seek funding approval, negotiate the agreement, and then start the process of implementation.  The business would usually not be re-engaged until IT was ready to start user testing of the solution.  The business was very dis-engaged in the process and was frustrated at the time it would take for software deployment and to get the new solution in place.

Now with growing customer demands for technology to automate and improve productivity, the length of time to propose and implement solutions has created the huge problem that we now call Shadow IT.  IT organizations have to re-brand themselves and overcome years of being perceived as the “Department of No”.

First of all, we have to make peace with the fact that good technology recommendations can actually start outside of IT.  In most cases, when the business approaches us with an idea, they’ve already identified the business issue, researched possible solutions, and identified a potential list of vendors.  At that point, if IT has a good relationship with the business, they will partner with them and add value to the vendor selection and solution process.  They use our experience in gathering requirements and identifying security risks, in conjunction with their strengths to ensure that nothing is missed, that the solution will meet their needs, and will work as expected in our enterprise environment.

We must look for ways to move faster.  The only way to do this is to collaborate with the business in solving their problems.  If we don’t do this, we will eventually be perceived as irrelevant and unable to provide value to the business.  There are a few strategies I’ve developed to assist in building the bridge and keeping the IT department relevant in the eyes of the business.

  1. Be the Security Expert: IT is the subject-matter-expert in network security.  IT needs to educate the business in understanding how they increase security risks when they don’t involve IT.  When the business knocks on my door to ask a security question on something they are thinking about, then I am developing that critical link to be brought into business discussions sooner.
  2. Communicate, Communicate, Communicate: Every project I implement includes a communication plan.  Re-branding the IT department and changing a long standing perception of being the road block takes time and a lot of communication.
  3. Provide the Enterprise View: IT is in the best position to take the business to the Internet of Everything.  Each department has expertise in their functional area, but it is often a siloed view.  Now we share information about initiatives between departments to help them understand the bigger picture and what is being done across the enterprise.  My goal is to be seen as a critical resource for moving the business forward. 

Joni Ferneau is the Director of IT for Flexera Software.  Joni has dynamic experience in technology initiatives, and has a passion for project leadership, strategic planning and cost containment challenges. She leads the Flexera Software IT team in providing global support across all infrastructure domains, as well as security, web applications, and engineering operations.

Watch this informative Webinar Service Delivery Nirvana: The New IT Business As Usual where Joni shares her experiences in transforming her IT department into an Agile IT organization by using a Universal Enterprise App Store and changing the perception of IT.

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Don Hite began writing as a columnist for Rod Trent on SWYNK.Com (Now Enterpriseitplanet.Com) in the winter of 1999. In January of 2002 he co-founded the Kansas City Regional Systems Management Users Group (KCRSMUG) along with Janis Keim. Don is the eldest of four children and was born in the Army hospital at Wurzburg Germany in November of 1957. After living in Bad Kissingen Germany for the first few years of his life the Hite family moved back to the United States after his father retired from the army when Don was still in kaki army diapers. Educated by trade as a commercial master electrician Don made the career change from terminating Copper Conductor cable to terminating Ethernet cable in the early 1990’s. Don is married and lives on a farm in rural Kingsville Missouri with his wife Virginia (Ginny) and has a Son Lee, Stepdaughter Lisa and an 11 year old grandson named Blake.

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