Monday, May 26, 2014

Support from the Shadows...

I have mixed feelings about so-called 'Shadow IT'.

It is here to stay and, with the ever-growing ability of business units to procure their services directly from vendors, using their support and service management capabilities, it will only increase.

So is it a problem? In my view that question has a 'yes and no' answer. I don't see Shadow IT as an issue when there is a deliberate and strategic business decision to let  business units manage their own IT procurement and support. For some organisations that could make good business sense...the approach is not going to be without its problems, but as long as the business understands and manages the risks involved with this and accepts those risks, then good luck to them!

My issue comes when Shadow IT is happening covertly, using budget to purchase IT services and deliberately bypassing their internal IT organisation without a strategic mandate to do so. This happens for a number of reasons, some cost based, but more often than not because the business has lost faith in the capability of their own IT resources.

Somewhat belatedly I have come to the conclusion that I may have unwittingly become part of the problem.

I normally work pretty well exclusively within the IT organisation of the business, but a recent assignment saw me doing business improvement work outside of IT, which has been a refreshing, although sometimes frustrating, piece of work. Part of that work has been managing the implementation of additional modules and capabilities for a business critical software system. Now, this is a role I am very comfortable with and, I hope, pretty good at.

As I was hired by the business unit that is the predominant user of the software, I assumed that this organisation had embraced a decentralised IT Service Management model and had strategically placed the responsibility for procurement, management and support of these services out into the business.

I was pretty surprised to find out that this is not the case, there was no mandate at a strategic level supporting this model. The move by this business unit, and others in the organisation, to manage their own IT services has just happened, mainly because they are not happy with the level of support they are getting from their internal IT teams. They are willing to pay the additional costs of getting their support directly from the vendor and have been training their own internal administration and application support specialists.

So this leaves me feeling a bit torn....Should I say "Hey, wait up...should we really be doing this?" and possibly do myself out of a nice piece of work? Is the wider issue of poor IT strategy and culture my problem? In reality it isn't...the really worrying part of this for me is that, although the CIO has been made fully aware of what we are doing, there has been no response forthcoming.

Apathy in the face of Shadow IT will kill the internal IT organisation...for better or worse it is coming to an organisation near you!

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