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The Importance of Mitigating, Monitoring, and Managing Shadow IT Organizations

Feb 7, 2020

With the ever-increasing number of computer applications and programs available coupled with reductions in IT department staffing, many entities are now dealing with “Shadow IT” organizations. Shadow IT refers to computer programs, applications or other related protocols utilized within an entity without explicit organizational approval (usually from the IT Department), which could result in financial, compliance, and regulatory risks. As such, IT departments need to be ever diligent at monitoring their organization to identify the existence of shadow IT in order to efficiently and effectively mitigate any issues before they arise.

Why do employees decide to use unapproved IT applications and programs? The answer may be as simple as the fact that many individuals want to utilize applications and programs that they find useful and have prior experience with.  This tendency may explain why individuals do not take the time to adopt the standard IT software approved by their organization.

In order for corporate IT departments to efficiently and effectively manage this problem, they must seek to answer not only the needs of their enterprise, but also the needs of their personnel. How can IT departments begin to formulate a potential solution?  A positive first step forward is the creation of IT policies to address a variety of guidelines, including acceptable use of third-party applications or appropriate installation of programs. The establishment of IT policies to mitigate the creation of shadow IT will help protect an organization from unwanted risk such as data loss or use of unlicensed software.  To effectively increase adoption of these IT policies, proper employee education is crucial.  By educating and instructing their employees, corporate IT departments will be able to raise awareness of the risks associated with shadow IT – and hopefully mitigate the likelihood that shadow IT may present itself within their own organization.

Lastly, organizations that actively engage their employees to identify efficient and effective applications, programs or systems are better able to adopt new solutions without the need for their employees to develop a solution on their own. Employing this strategy will not only aid in decreasing the formation of shadow IT within an organization; it may also increase employee morale because employees will be pleased to see their voices being heard.

Shadow IT can create a wide array of risks; however, these risks can be managed by developing an efficient and effective corporate policy coupled with continuous employee education, instruction, and communication. Ultimately, close attention to the root causes that give rise to shadow IT” will help limit the opportunities for shadow IT to establish itself within an organization.

PRTS Intelligence Newsletter - Q4 2020

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